Outrageous outrage.

In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision in recognition of gay marriage, I’ve noticed a few interesting things.

The flood of rainbow coloured profile pictures on Facebook and other social media and the parallel flood of statements in support of marriage equality for all suggest at first that there is stronger social support for marriage equality than the Australian government seems to believe.  I wonder how many of the people I know splashing rainbows around this weekend have written to any Australian politicians voicing their support.

All those rainbows have also prompted a wave of people bemoaning the loss of their “Christian” right to object or to openly state that they do not support gay marriage.
What nonsense.
Nobody is being asked to live against their morals. Nobody is having their personal ethics persecuted or the security of their family endangered.

In fact, if gay people are allowed to get married, I’m pretty sure that the only personal lives affected will be their own.  For heterosexual couples, kids at school, and Rover the family dog, absolutely nothing will change. They can still go on doing what they’ve always done. So can your church, mosque or local football club.

In terms of the Australian constitution, nothing will change. The Marriage Act would change, but that isn’t going to annul or change anyone else’s marriage. And please, don’t start bleating about “undermining the sanctity of marriage”.  A 50% divorce rate in Australia, the chronic problem of domestic violence, and a popular culture full of dysfunctional families and parents, usually fathers, made out to look like idiots by smart-arsed kids has done more to undermine the sanctity of marriage than legalising gay marriage ever will.   If heterosexuals want to be precious about their marriages, it’s about time more of them started treating their marriages as precious.

I fully understand that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is immoral.  No argument there.
However, what most of the predominantly Christian outrage against gay marriage conveniently overlooks is that the Bible teaches that there are many practices and lifestyles that are immoral: anyone who is dishonest, greedy, prejudiced, cruel, selfish, rude, atheist, or sexually active outside of marriage is just as guilty in terms of what the Bible teaches.  Let’s not even start on different religions. And judging other people? Oops. There are plenty of people in our world who are guilty of that.
All of these things are called immoral in the Bible. Yet all of these other people are fully entitled, as consenting adults, to marry the person they love. That is, of course, as long as it’s a heterosexual marriage.  Anything else would be… well… sinful.  And we can’t have that, can we?

The Bible wastes no words in condemning those who oppress the poor, the vulnerable, the widow or the hungry. The Old Testament is very direct in that regard. Ironically, though, we don’t hear people raging against the relationships or marriages of the Australian politicians who are actively involved in locking up asylum seekers in small neighbouring third-world nations, do we?  No,  because that would be stupid. So would opposing the marriage of Joe Schmoe and Mary Bloggs down the road because they don’t believe in God at all, or they worship the fairies at the bottom of their garden. In fact, I do believe it’s been a very long time since anyone living in Australia was publicly stoned to death for “living in sin”, but that’s immoral too.

My point is that it seems that marriage is an option for everyone except gays and lesbians, even though everyone is flawed or immoral in one way or another.

Nobody is suggesting that churches or individual pastors or priests who hold convictions and teachings against gay marriage should be forced to perform the ceremonies. Nobody is suggesting that because something becomes legalised, everyone has to do it.  Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are both quite legal, yet many people choose to do neither. It’s quite legal to be a nudist if someone wants to be, but most people don’t practise that lifestyle, either.

It’s high time that we all just got over ourselves and treated one another with respect and kindness.  If someone wants to marry, let them.  If they don’t want to marry, don’t make them. And for heaven’s sake, stop pretending that someone else’s marriage or relationship has anything at all to do with yours.

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A new low in “reality television”.

When I was a teenager, the dating show ‘Perfect Match’ was at the height of its popularity. Since then, we have seen a long list of shows that have varied only in the degree of tackiness, such as ‘Please Marry My Boy’ where the mothers of single men selected a bride for their sons to the considerably more sordid ‘The Bachelor’. I honestly didn’t think it could get much worse than that… until tonight. 

I’ve just seen a promo on TV for a show called ‘Married at First Sight’. The premise of the show is that a number of couples are ‘matched’ by a psychologist and a neurologist, and meet each other for the first time at the altar where they enter into legally binding arranged marriages. They have never met; they don’t know anything about each other; they don’t even know one another’s name. The show is openly advertised as a social experiment. 

Seriously? How is this allowed? Can this really be legal in Australia, where arranged marriages that are quite acceptable in other cultures are frowned upon?  I am incredulous at the hypocrisy of this is acceptable in our society when the right to marry is denied to loving, committed couples who happen to be gay: hasn’t the loudest, most popular argument against legalising gay marriage is that “it debases the sanctity of marriage”? Surely, this ‘experiment’ is guilty of doing exactly that. Let’s face it, heterosexual couples haven’t done such a great job of maintaining the sanctity of marriage up to this point, and this program is most likely to hit a new low in that department.  This really only serves to reinforce my belief that we are guilty of huge double standards in this department. 

It must not be forgotten that these are real people with real feelings and the rest of their lives ahead of them.  I can’t imagine how my gay friends and family must feel about the sanctity of marriage being turned into a game show but still denied to them.
It seems that “reality television” is about to reach a new low. Are we really that desperate for entertainment? 

A wonderful and unusual legacy.

Today would have been my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.
Mum has been gone for a while now – she graduated to heaven in July 2012 after dementia took her from us long before that – but it’s still nice to remember and reflect on the life they built together and the legacy they gave to us as their kids.
I’m thankful for the lessons they taught us and the way they demonstrated problem-solving and talking together as a couple. I’m thankful for their love for each other and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It’s fair to say that our family is unusual by contemporary standards. My parents remained together and faithful until my mother’s death. My brother, sisters, and I are all still married to our original spouses.  The nucleus of my immediate family has thus far been untouched by separation, divorce, or abuse. What an incredible blessing. What an amazing legacy for my nieces and nephews who are now making their own ways in the world: some studying, some married or preparing to marry, and some now raising their own beautiful children.
I’m thankful for my amazing family and all the ways they have enriched my life. I’m thankful to be able to call every one of them mine.

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December 19, 1953. Hoskins Memorial Presbyterian Church, Lithgow. One of the many things I like about this photo is that my newly-wed parents are flanked by my Aunt Margaret, whom I have always loved dearly, and my grandmother whom I never met. It reminds me that the understanding of family that Mum and Dad gave to us was something their families gave to them. The legacy didn’t just start with my parents – it started with theirs, and theirs before them.  That’s very powerful when you stop to think about it.

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