Barack Obama this week spoke publicly on the subject same-sex marriage. He made clear his endorsement of same-sex marriage and championed the push to make it legal.
It’s a big issue being discussed in popular culture and the church right now.Different people both in and outside the church are taking stands on opposing sides – and there are some very cruel and unloving words being said by some, on both sides.
The thing is, all of this discussion on the rights and wrongs of same-sex marriage completely misses the point.
It’s not the right discussion to be having in the first place.
There’s a much bigger and more significant discussion we should be engaged with. One that goes to the root of the issue.
A discussion on what marriage is.
What it means.
What it’s about.
Where it came from.
This to me is much more interesting than the debate that seems to be going on right now, and encapsulates this issue and many many more.
In an age where it’s become more and more easy to get married and divorced, where the number of failed marriages is increasing, the true meaning and purpose of marriage is beginning to be lost.
Indeed, most people now have either been in a failed marriage, or have relatives and/or friends who have been.
I’m one of these.
My parents divorced and I was very much stuck in the middle. My Dad’s second marriage also sadly ended as well.
Culture has changed. More and more couples are now living together and not getting married, or living together before they marry to ‘make sure’ that if they get married it will work out. Some now get married if one of the couple accidentally gets pregnant.
It happens so often now that we simply accept it.
We don’t really think about it.
Being unmarried, I don’t pretend I have all the answers about what marriage is. I could probably say a few things it isn’t, from the experience being stuck in the middle of my parents marriage growing up. I do have a few ideas of what it might be.
But I’m hardly the greatest authority on it, not yet.
So today I don’t want to answer this question. I want us merely to start asking it.
Instead of getting caught up in a discussion of whether certain people groups should or shouldn’t get married, let’s instead ask some important questions.
What does marriage mean?
Is a civil partnership a marriage?
Is it merely a legal contract between two people?
Where does God come in?
Why should we even get married?
Who is marriage for?
These are the questions we need to begin asking and reflecting on. This is a really important issue and one that impacts most of us one way or another. It’s one we must come to terms with.
If we’re married or considering getting married one day in the future we need to seriously consider them. We need to ask them to ourselves and spend time pondering them.
A lot of people who get married never ask them – not seriously anyway. People look at the fairytale or Hollywood fantasy about marriage and make it their dream. Others look on it as an ideal, something to aspire to. Still more think it is the thing that will complete them or make them whole.
But it doesn’t matter who we are and whatever we believe about God. If we want to have a meaningful, successful marriage, if we are serious about marriage, then we need to ask some of those questions of ourselves.
In the process of answering them, we may find many of the other questions are answered. We may also discover whether we truly want to enter into marriage, and maybe, we might end up with a more successful, meaningful marriage.
So let’s begin asking – and answering – those questions.
What do you think marriage is?
What’s your experience of marriage?
How would you answer some of the questions I mention above?
What do you make of Obama’s comments?
James Prescott is a writer & creative exploring social media & the messy but divine journey of life. He blogs regularly at James Prescott.co.uk & is a regular guest blogger at bigbible.org.uk and other sites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.