One of the attitudes/words of resistance to marriage equality for same sex couples is this:

“None of ‘them’ exist where we live.”

This is not true, whether one lives in Alabama or New Zealand.

I, in my writing, frequently quote the words of the character in Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” Ellison was writing about the “invisibility” of blacks, here I refer to the “invisibility” of same sex couples. The racial diversity of the same sex couples in Alabama, made visible, the universality of same sex love. As I  watched this racial diversity, I found myself humming the children’s song, “Red, brown, yellow, black and white, they (same sex couples) are precious in God’s sight.”

Those in church or society who declare that the definition of marriage refers only to the marriage of one man and one woman, make of marriage an institution of “gender diversity”.

Whereas, marriage as I have known it for 57 years, is two people expressing love for each other with all of the ups and downs that love generates.

The 1955 Movie, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” reminds us of the ups and downs, and the ins and outs of married love. It may go together “like a horse and carriage,” but at times the carriage is in front, rather than the horse. I marvel at a member of a couple who says in the presence of their partner, “We never spoke a cross word or had a difference in our marriage.” I listen to them, but out of the corner of my eye, I look at their partner, and their countenance and body language often says otherwise.

The attention given to the marriages of same sex couples, hopefully, will encourage and enable all of us, particularly within the Church, to be more open and honest about love and marriage and the complexities that accompany it.

Matters of personality, history, culture, finances, religion, sex, relationships with others, children, house, neighborhood, etc., are inextricably linked to marriage, and require patient and prayerful response.

Those who have been so adamant in their resistance to same sex marriage because it diminishes “traditional marriage,” may be be doing this to avoid developing creative and courageous responses to why so many heterosexual marriages end in divorce. I have gone out on a limb and suggested that the title and content of Henri Nouwen’s, Wounded Healers, is appropriate and helpful, whether one’s marriage is same-sex or heterosexual.

Two people in a marriage often “wound” each other through acts of commission and/or omission. And, too often, we are unable or unwilling to talk about it. There is that moment in the movie SELMA, when Coretta King, Martin Luther King’s wife asks him, “Do you love me?” He responds, “I do.”

It is the ability to affirm love for one’s partner, even if one actions indicate otherwise, that holds marriages together.

The surge of same sex marriages, heals another wound that we do not talk about much in the Church. The wound that is caused by “talking about” rather than “talking to” each other. The United Methodist “grapevine” has been cluttered with people talking about this or that alleged relationship between people of the same sex or of different sexes. Maybe, one of the unexpected by-products of same sex marriage, will be the stifling of the need to “gossip” about each other, thus giving us more time to, “Gossip the Gospel.” My grandmother, I have shared many times, said over and over again,

“There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it doesn’t behoove any of us to talk about the rest of us.” We know the skeletons in our own closets, but we also know the skeletons in the closets of others.

Thus, regardless of our sexual orientation, gender identity, same sex or heterosexual relationship, married or not, we who are “Wounded Healers” can sing the words of the Spiritual, “You can talk about me, just as much as you please. But, I’ll talk about you, when I get on my knees.”

Amen and Amen!

Rev. Gil Caldwell

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist Minister who lives in Asbury Park, N.J. He was active in the Massachusetts unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in the civil-rights movement throughout the nation. In 2000, he, with others, organized the RMN Extension ministry United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), an organization committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in every aspect of church and society. His recent book, Something Within: Works by Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is available from Church Within A Church. Gil's advocacy efforts were also featured in the film "From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?" Learn more at truthinprogress.com

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