I am currently planning a wedding. When I say, “I am,” what I really mean is, “My fiancé is.” Still, I’m at least trying to help when I’m needed. I even have a Pinterest account now. I am clearly dedicated to this marriage.
I’m reading books about how to be a better husband and what makes marriage work. Everyone is kind enough to give me advice, and to even anticipate my will and give me advice without me even asking for it. I know that marriage is complicated. It has literally been around since the beginning of time. And I believe that God established it. It’s sacred. Holy.
Thanks to our wonderfully ethical 24-hour news networks, you’ve probably heard the term “Sanctity of Marriage” more times than you can count, especially in the last few years. It’s a hot button issue, and most people have an opinion on what it means. I think it has become one of those terms that everyone knows about, and so it has a million different interpretations. You’ve probably heard a lot of Right-wingers and Christians talking about protecting it, even to the point of enacting legislation.
The day before I moved back to Florida from Washington, DC, my friend Chris and I decided that we’d go do a tour of the Capitol. I’d never seen the House Chamber before and thought it’d be kind of cool if we could see Congress in session, and that day they were in session. We sat up in the peanut gallery and did our best to indentify the politicians whose names and faces we knew.
“Oh look, there’s Nancy Pelosi. There’s Eric Cantor and Michele Bachmann.”
After we spotted a few, I stopped and said, “Wow… These people kind of suck at their jobs.” I’m not anti-American, but I was just saying what the majority of Americans think. Congress’s approval ratings were at around 9% in 2013.
I’m not saying every member of Congress is a bad person, but when I look at their paychecks and the work they can’t seem to accomplish, I get frustrated and lose confidence in the role they have in our nation. And sadly, it seems more and more scandals will pour out of Washington every year.
Marriage has become an issue that candidates can use to get the votes they want to get. When we put the sanctity of marriage in the hands and mouths of politicians and a political system, we are going to lose every time. If you’re looking to the government to uphold the sanctity of anything, I think you’re talking to the wrong people.
Where did this phrase “the sanctity of marriage” even come from? It’s not in the Bible. What does sanctity even mean? According to the dictionary, Sanctify means: to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate. As I said, I believe that God instituted marriage, and whatever God makes is good and holy. At least it starts out that way. As with any good thing God gives, mankind tries to find a way to wreck it. Humans seem to take every form of freedom and find a way to abuse it.
Some people view the sanctity of marriage as anything that isn’t gay marriage. At least this seems to be the view that gets the most attention. But what makes a Kim Kardashian marriage, between a man and a woman, which lasted for 70 days sanctified? Is a heterosexual marriage sanctified if a man cheats on his wife regularly? Are marriages between selfish, unforgiving men and a women sanctified simply because it is between a man and a woman?
If you think that the sanctity of marriage comes down to only being gay or not being gay, I think you’re missing a much greater picture.
I’ve been wrestling through these thoughts for a long time, and I’ve been nervous to write them and put them in the hands of the Internet with all of it’s misguided critics and scrutinizers. But as I step into my own marriage, I look at a great challenge that is before me: to uphold the sanctity of marriage in my own life.
Who upholds the sanctity? An institution or an individual? If we really care about upholding the sanctity of marriage, it starts in our own homes. The divorce rate in this country is far too high to throw stones at other marriages before we get ours sanctified. Are we pointing fingers and yelling about how the government wants to define sanctity mainly to distract from our own hypocrisy? It reminds me of how Jesus told the Pharisees that they clean the outside of their cups and dishes while leaving the insides of them filthy.
Marriage is more than a season of The Bachelor. It’s more than some pictures on Facebook. It’s more than what Congress says it is or isn’t. And Americans are failing at it. We’re spending so much time trying to define what it means in concrete words and images that we miss the heart of it all in our own lives. The inside the cup is dirty.
Who upholds the sanctity of marriage? We do. One home at a time. Beyond a ballot. Beyond a campaign. We uphold it and preserve it by getting it done right in our own lives first.