Tag Archives: marriage

Rant Alert: Marriage Equality & Christianity

marriage equality

I’ve sat and watched with increasing frustration the last few weeks as people on social media have debated the topic of marriage equality back and forth. It’s frustrating for a number of reasons. The level of vehemence on both sides. The ignorance. The intolerance. Often, the sheer stupidity of the statements, again, often from both sides. More than anything, what has both frustrated and angered me is the responses I’ve seen from self-proclaimed Christians, especially from people that I know and love. I’ve debated back and forth whether I really wanted to get into the fray by writing something about it. I didn’t want to get into heated debates with people. I’ve made some comments on social media in various places, but mostly I’ve restrained myself from really diving in. Tonight, after another one of these topics came up in a Facebook post, I decided I couldn’t hold back any longer. I’m not going to debate whether homosexuality is a sin or not. I’m not going to open that can of worms. I am going to debate why marriage equality should happen (or continue to happen), and why Christians should stop getting so up in arms about it. The main point is this:

It May Share the Same Name, But It Isn’t The Same Thing

The biggest argument I’ve seen against marriage equality is that it smacks in the face of God’s definition of marriage. It’s sinful, an abomination, and will be the downfall of society, America, and apple pie. Here’s why you’re wrong.

1.It’s not the same thing as the marriage you’re talking about.
It just isn’t. The Judeo-Christian definition of marriage is the joining of man and woman in a holy covenant between themselves and God. They are spiritually and physically joined together in a union that is meant to last until death. It has a HUGE spiritual significance. It is a huge deal, just like all covenants with God.

Other cultures and religions have varying interpretations and emphasis. For some you’re joined to Gaia, for others it’s a union blessed by Thor and Odin, or the moon and the stars, or whatever. Marriage has a different meaning for every different culture and religion. They all share a common ground, the joining of two people’s lives, but the significance and what that union means can vary and is entirely dependent on the couple and their beliefs. This is not the kind of marriage that you need a government to condone. This is the type of marriage that has gone on for centuries across most cultures in the world since societies began.

The kind of marriage that people are losing their freaking minds about is the other kind of marriage- a legal contract between two consenting adults that joins their lives in a legally recognized way and bestows upon them special privileges and selectively-apportioned state benefits according to that government’s laws.

It’s a legal.

Contract.

As far as the government is concerned it has nothing to do with love, God, Allah, Gaia, Thor, the entire Greek pantheon, or my chicken sandwich. Any other significance, beyond the legal, placed upon it from there is ENTIRELY dependent upon the beliefs of the couple. Arguing over this topic to the point of violence is as dumb as arguing over whether “sinners” should be allowed to sign the Apple Terms of Service Agreement.

Christianity doesn’t own the concept of marriage. We don’t have a trademark on the term. Marriage of one kind or another has been happening in societies long before God made His covenant with Abraham or before Moses wrote the Ten Commandments. It is an ideal that has been practiced by cultures that had never even heard of Yahweh,  Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit. Hell, Native Americans were practicing a form of it before the rest of the known world invaded and gave them the gift of smallpox and introduced them to the concept of eviction.

Now, if said homosexual couple wants to have a religious wedding, then that is another topic for debate; but it has nothing to do with the marriage license or the legal side of things, which is all the Supreme Court decided. Either way, there are two different versions of marriage at play here. One is legal, the other holy. Stop confusing the two and getting up in arms about it.

2. It is Incredibly Hypocritical 

The “baker” question has been floating around quite a bit on Facebook lately. Should Christian bakers bake cakes for gay weddings? Would Jesus? (I’m not touching on whether they should legally be forced to, just the idea of willingly doing it or not.) I said this in a Facebook topic earlier today and I’ll share it here, and note that this is me with my “Minister” hat on now:
I’m wondering, for all of you hypothetical bakers, if you’d refuse to bake a cake for a couple who had a sexual relationship before the wedding, or if they’d committed adultery, or been previously married but divorced for a reason other than adultery? If the answer is yes, how, exactly, would you plan on staying in business?

When did homosexuality suddenly become this line in the sand and thus worse than all other “sinful lifestyles”? Why is a homosexual wedding any different than a couple who had lived and had sex together out of wedlock before the wedding, or what if they’re wiccan, or agnostic, or atheists? They’re all considered “sinful lifestyles”, yet you don’t see these bastions of Christianity denying cakes to everyone else. Is it only okay as long as the baker is ignorant of the lifestyle in question? Should we start having sin questionnaires just to be sure? Should we have to call their pastors and confirm that they’re card carrying Christians? Do we not see how hypocritical this line of thinking becomes?

Further food for thought, for the ones so aghast at the thought of “Jesus the baker” baking a cake for these sinful people- he WAS a carpenter. Do you think he refused to make furniture for “sinners”, knowing that they may use said furniture to celebrate acts of gluttony or even for use during a wedding of other hedonistic sinners? Did he tell the Samaritan at the well that they must not drink from the same water as the Jews because they were a “sinner,” as the Pharisees and Sadducees did? (Note: Yes, I’ve heard the wooden idol argument. No, it isn’t the same. That is a symbol of idolatry used in a religious ceremony. A cake is not.)

It’s out of love and compassion that He wanted His followers to be known by, not the same self-righteous judgmentalness that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law displayed. I’m seeing so many people hurl insults towards homosexual individuals as though these people are somehow worse than the rest of us. You don’t have to agree with the lifestyle, but you should keep in mind that we are ALL sinners and we’re all equally filthy in the eyes of God without His forgiveness. So I say this in love:

Grow up, get over it, and stop being such a hypocrite.

We don’t live in a Christian theocracy. You can’t expect a secular society that is a melting pot of all different kinds of religions and ideologies to conform to your way of thinking or sense of morality. Nor should you to expect to be treated better, or given legal benefits and privileges  solely based on what’s going on between the legs or by skin color.  You think homosexuality is a sin? Don’t do it. You don’t agree with homosexual marriage? Don’t do it. You do you, and stop worrying about everyone else- particularly in areas that don’t affect you personally one single bit.

Added from a comment I made below, which I think sums things up well: What it really boils down to is those against gay marriage are really saying that homosexual couples don’t deserve to have the same legal government/insurance/financial benefits and protections as other couples, and I have yet to see one solid reason as to why without people injecting their personal religion or beliefs into it.

 

Note: I decided to open the comments section because this is a topic that’s important to discuss. That said, I have to approve every comment before it’ll show up, so keep it civil. If you disagree that’s fine, but I refuse to let this degenerate into anything ugly.

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Advice About Marriage For Unmarried People

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Next Wednesday my wife and I will be celebrating our first anniversary as a married couple; and as I’ve reflected on the past year as a married man I’ve come to realize just how much I’ve learned and grown as an individual in this relatively short amount of time. It also made me realize just how ignorant I was beforehand. As I write this, my little sister is planning her own wedding in December, which I will be officiating. My future brother-in-law proposed on Christmas day, and they’ve already booked the location for the ceremony, the reception, the bartender, the D.J., and have gone shopping for the dress. When I hear how much money this will all end up costing them, not to mention how much they’ve already spent, it just makes me glad that my wife and I chose to elope.  That’s the thing about marriage- so much emphasis is put on the day, that more often than not you don’t really think about what comes after (beyond the honeymoon).  Well, dear reader, allow me to share a few nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gleaned about marriage over the past year. I’m far from an expert, but these are just a few things that I’ve learned.

  1. Don’t Wait for Perfection.
    Movies, television, and music have done a really great job of painting a picture of what they think love and marriage should look like. Unfortunately that picture is, like the models in magazines, a doctored up fabrication. Love and marriage isn’t a perfect fairytale. There are only two perfect things in this world- God and The Empire Strikes Back, so if you’re holding out for that perfect love as described in a  Marvin Gaye song you’ll end up a lonely, bitter old man/woman whose gone nose deaf to the stench of your hundred cats.
  2. Wait for the Perfect Person for You.
    No, this isn’t a contradiction. We’ve been so indoctrinated by media by what we think love should be that sometimes it can cause us to miss that perfect person for us. My wife is not “perfect”.  She doesn’t look like a supermodel. She doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight or fart rainbows. She has her faults just like everyone else. That said, she’s perfect for me. To me, she’s the most beautiful person on the planet.  She puts up with my crap with saintly compassion and patience and loves me for who I am, faults and all. She’s my best friend. Do we love all of the same things? No. We certainly share common interests, but she has things that she enjoys that I don’t care for and vice-versa. We compliment each other. Trust me, you don’t want to marry a carbon copy of yourself. You want to find someone that brings balance to your life, and that means that there has to be some differences. Those differences help you to stretch your boundaries and grow as a person. So do yourself a favor and check your expectations at the door. Had I measured my wife up against the expectations of those love songs, television shows, and romantic comedies I might have missed out on the best thing that ever happened to me.
  3. Marriage Doesn’t Solve Problems, It Compounds Them.
    For some reason people think that once you get married all of those problems that you faced as a single person will magically disappear. They don’t. There’s a reason that the phrase “and they lived happily ever after” only shows up in fairytales. When you get married not only do you still have a lot of the same problems that you did when you were single, you now have all of your partner’s problems to face as well. That’s not even counting all the new ones that you’ll acquire as couple (and trust me, problems don’t wait for the honeymoon to be over). The bright side is you no longer have to face that stuff alone. When you’re with the right person, you’ll find that you’ve always got someone to help share the load, and that can make a world of difference.
  4.  In the Hierarchy of Family, Your Spouse Comes First. Always.
    If you’re very lucky you’ll have in-laws that are awesome people that welcome you to the family with open arms and a hug. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Maybe your parents don’t like the person you’ve chosen for whatever reason. That can be a really difficult and awkward situation (especially during the holidays); but ultimately that’s not your problem, it’s theirs. Your spouse should always come first. They are your partner in life and they outrank everyone else- even mom and dad. Yes, that includes the kids as well. This may not be a popular opinion, but hear me out. Your children will (eventually) grow up, leave the house, and hopefully start a life and family of their own. Your spouse (ideally) is going to be there for the rest of your life. As I’ve already said, you’re partners, and that means you always support your spouse (especially in front of the kids). If you disagree, you do so in private. Of course, this is predicated by the assumption that you and your spouse are both doing what’s right by the children. If abuse is involved, in any form, all bets are off. You have to protect your kids (and yourself).
  5. Don’t Fight Angry
    Conflict is inevitable. It happens no matter how well you get along or how lovey-dovey and starry-eyed in love you are. It. Will. Happen. Any time you live with another person things are going to end up annoying you. You’re going to eventually disagree. You’re going to eventually do something stupid to piss each other off. You can’t always prevent it from happening, but you can control how you react when it happens.  In my experience, the absolute best thing you can do whenever it happens, if at all possible, is to take a time out.  Go for a walk. Take a drive. Run an errand. Even just go lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes. Do whatever you need to do to get some distance from the situation,  cool off and really look at why you’re upset. In the heat of the moment it’s very easy to turn something that is relatively not a big deal into something huge where things might be said that you’ll regret. If you take the time to cool off and really look at why you’re angry, I’ve found that you’ll often be surprised at what you’ll find. My wife and I rarely fight at all, but a majority of the time when she’s done something to upset me my reaction has been more about me- either my hang ups, or because I was frustrated by other things and what she did just added tipped the scale- than it had to do with what actually happened. By taking a little time to calm down and then talk to her in a more rational manner, we’ve managed to avoid a lot of grief.
  6. Give More Than You Take
    That old saying that “it’s better to give than to receive,” I’ve found, is very true in a marriage. I enjoy taking care of my wife. I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that I’ve made her happy. I try to go out of my way to do things that I know might make her life easier, and she reciprocates. It’s not about doing something knowing that you’ll get something in return. It has everything to do with showing how much you love them as opposed to just saying the words. When everyone is trying to be loving and thoughtful, everyone is happy, feels loved and appreciated.
  7. “Me” Time is Okay
    Having time to yourself, or with friends, is important. While my wife is my best friend and I love spending time with her, I also need time to myself (away from the house and the kid) every once in a while. She enjoys having “girl’s night” out with her friends a couple times a month.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other. What it does mean is that we’re individual people who occasionally have different interests and don’t want to always be joined at the hip.  Remember, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and nothing will expedite getting on each others nerves more than to spending every waking moment with each other 24/7.   We all need a little space sometimes.

    What about you? If you’re married, what would you add to the list? Feel free to comment below.

    J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novels The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

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Down With the Thickness: Writing, Family Life, and Dealing with Depression

DWTT Final Cover

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and actually wrote something. My last blog post was in September. Before that I’d only done one other post for the entire year, which makes me incredibly ashamed of myself. I’ve toyed with edits on my new novel off and on, but I haven’t sat down and really tried to write since I got married. I’ve been telling myself it’s because I’ve been adjusting to my new life as a stay-at-home dad. It’s been an experience and my kid can be a handful. That’s true, but it’s not the real reason that I haven’t been writing. It’s taken me months to really nail down exactly what my problem has been, but for the past few days I’ve come to the realization that I haven’t been writing because I’ve been struggling with depression and thus have been actively avoiding writing, or really anything that requires motivation and a sense of self worth outside of the things that I HAVE to do.

That realization surprised me.

Struggling with depression is nothing new for me. I’ve battled it my entire life. For years I couldn’t go more than a month or two without depression rearing it’s ugly head, and a few times a year those funks would dip low enough where suicidal thoughts would come and go as well. The thing is I haven’t had a bout of depression that bad in over a year. I had honestly thought that I may have finally slayed the beast once and for all once I got married. For as long as I can remember the one thing that I’ve wanted more than anything was to get married and have a kid. I always felt like that achievement would be the crown jewel in my life. It’d be the key to my happiness and once it happened all the feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and all that other junk that depression likes to torment me with would all be rendered moot.

In a lot of ways I was right.

I’m happier now than I’ve ever really been in my life. I don’t feel lonely anymore. I don’t feel completely worthless or like I’m unlovable. My wife is the most loving, supportive, and understanding woman I could ever hope to find. My kid is an adorable, smart, hyperactive, spoiled pain in the arse and I love him more than I thought it was possible to love another human being. The fact that he isn’t my “blood” doesn’t factor into it at all for me. He is my son in every way that matters and both he and his mother are the answers to decades worth of prayers, wishes, and hopes. I couldn’t ask for a better family.

Which is why this current bout of depression has caught me by surprise. The depression has evolved. This time it didn’t attack me in the way it used to. Before, depression would come on hard and fast and put me on my ass for days. The world would go dark; I’d be a moody pain in the ass; and after a few days I’d emerge exhausted mentally and emotionally, but generally intact. But all of the old stuff that it used to use against me doesn’t work too well anymore, so it’s found new avenues to attack that are more subtle. In fact, I think it’s been something that I’ve been struggling with for months and I just didn’t fully recognize it for what it was until now.

Getting married hasn’t eradicated my insecurities or made the world a perfect place. My wife and I have had several very stressful things we’ve had to struggle with already. That’s just life. We’ve gotten through them together and we haven’t let those things affect our relationship. In fact, it’s only made our relationship stronger. That’s how marriage is supposed to work. That said, while the old insecurities may have been hammered down by the love of my new family, new ones have taken root and sprouted to take their place.

I have medical issues. They’re issues that are genetic and thus they are issues I’ll have to deal with for my entire life. They’ve caused a lot of physical problems, problems that have gotten progressively worse in the last couple of years.  As a result I’m unable to do much in the way of physical activity, I’m in constant pain, and I’m unable to work.  The dynamic in our house is my wife works full time and I stay home and take care of our little Tasmanian devil. I try to do things around the house: take care of the dishes, keep the house from being a complete disaster area, cook on the days my wife works, etc. I can’t do everything I want to do. I get tired and my body rebels on me after only short bouts of activity, so something that normally would take maybe ten minutes might take me half an hour or better. In a given day if I’m able to empty and load the dish washer, make dinner, and keep our kid from doing something that might hurt himself or others I call it a win. I’m not writing all this to throw myself a pity party or to garner sympathy. I’m just providing a bit of perspective.

I know that times have progressed. Gender roles aren’t what they used to be. I know that it is just as okay for me to be a househusband and stay at home dad as it was for wives to be housewives and stay at home moms. I know that having my wife bringing home the majority of our income doesn’t make me less of a man. I know that my wife understands my physical limitations and that she knows that I do the best I can with what I’ve got to work with, and that I work hard to provide for her in other areas to make up for what I lack in being able to help in the physical ones.

I KNOW all of this. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still bother me. That doesn’t mean that depression can’t use it as ammunition to assault me, and it has, because I was wrong.

The “war” with depression that I thought I won wasn’t the real war at all.  I’ve realized what anyone who has battled depression all their lives can tell you- it’s what Superman would describe as a “neverending battle”. Once you win one skirmish the enemy will find something new and attack again. It’s a war that you only win when you’re on your deathbed surrounded by your family and other people who love you and you realize that despite it you still lived a full and mostly happy life. It’s a war that you win by refusing to let IT win. Now I’m in a new battle with depression, but now that I’m aware of how it’s attacking, with the help of my loved ones, I’ll win this one too. Then it’ll be something else, but that’s okay. I have a family and friends that love me. I have a dream of becoming a published author.

I have things worth fighting for.

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re struggling in the neverending battle yourself. Maybe you’re in the thick of it and it’s hard to see around you. Maybe it’s hard to focus on what you have to fight for. Just know that you aren’t alone and that the only way you lose the battle is if you give up and let it win. Don’t give it the satisfaction.

Carry on.

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