Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Advent Season for Gender-Common Marriage

Sometimes the gift of humor helps individuals and the community at large along its way in a discernment process.

"Soon we may live in a world where the only people opposed to gay marriage will be gay people who are married." –Craig Ferguson

"You know who is really against the president's position on gay marriage? Gay men afraid of commitment. Now they have no excuse." –Jay Leno

"Rev. Pat Robertson says that if more states legalize gay marriage, God will destroy America. He did say that afterwards, gays will come in and do a beautiful renovation." –Conan O'Brien

"When you're a gay couple getting married, who gets the bachelor party? Who goes downstairs in the middle of the night to check on the noise? Who forgets the anniversary? Who refuses to stop and ask for directions? And which one of you will take forever to get ready?" –David Letterman


"Recently, the highest court in South Africa handed down a decision ordering the country s parliament to extend marriage rights to all gay couples. So just to reiterate, American is now less progressive than South Africa." --Jon Stewart

While the Christian community is focused on the spirituality of Advent, there is another advent - a secular one which is building momentum towards its eventual birth.

Just for a quick reference, The word 'Advent' is from the Latin 'Adventus,' which means 'coming.'

I am speaking of the Advent for the legalization of gender-common marriages.

It seems to me that once the last votes (including Florida) were counted and President Obama was re-elected to a second term as President, the momentum to finally resolve the question of marriage equality has become almost as important a national concern as is the "fiscal-cliff" issue. I believe what has freed this momentum on its course is because the vocal minority in opposition to marriage equality and many other forms of human and civil rights has expounded its last roar.

This past weekend, George Will, the patriarch of conservative commentators and writers spoke the obvious on the ABC Sunday talk-show "This Week" said:

"There is something like an emerging consensus. Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people."

Mr. Will's assessment is correct.  The sadness is that it has taken so long for this matter of human rights and dignity to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

The older I become, the more distinction I see between "human time" and "God's time."  To be human and subservient to God's clock can be very difficult.  As marriage equality becomes a finalized realization, I cannot help thinking about countless numbers of those who never lived long enough to see this approaching day.  Like the former slaves who died just before the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the women who died just before the 15th Amendment to the Constitution or all those who died before the enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act - those who did not live to experience marriage equality must never be forgotten for it was their dream that kept the ember of hope alive through so many difficult years.

There is a sense of sadness in the reality of Mr. Will's comments because I think that it is indeed sad that we have to wait for the death of a generation in order for our society to progress and evolve forward.  As a bishop I have to ask myself where did the pastoral community fail in the spiritual formation of our people.  Why did we allow so many teachable moments to reform social and spiritual attitudes to slip through our fingers?  Why were we silent when we should have, as shepherds, been shouting out against injustice from the rooftops?  Why did we permit the power of bigotry and prejudice to prevail over goodness?  For these failures, many of us will have to answer in the next life.

I find some solace in the fact that my catholic jurisdiction went "against the current" and followed the call of the Holy Spirit to permit gender-common marriage in 1997 and I find additional comfort by seeing other jurisdictions beginning to welcome gender-common couples to marriage.

It is my hope and prayer that as human time and God's time has converged on the question of marriage equality we will not have to wait for generations to die before all of humanity has the opportunity to experience full and complete human rights and equality.

Thank you, God for this Advent.

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