“We build on foundations we did not lay.
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light.
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.
We drink from wells we did not dig.
We profit from persons we did not know.
We are ever bound in community."

Rev. Peter Raible (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 17 of Spiritual Practices and Reflections: Why Love Matters (or: "Why Marriage Equality is a Religious Issue")

Last Thursday, I gathered with other Unitarian Universalist clergy to learn about the marriage amendment (that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman) that will be on the ballot in November, and ways that we can work together to defeat this amendment as we celebrate love, families of all configurations, and loving, committed relationships.

It was a good training, and what really became clear to me during the hour was this: I didn't get married for the rights that marriage brings (although the rights are terribly important). I got married because love opened my heart in the deepest way I've ever known. I got married because I wanted to journey through life with someone who was a true partner, who helped me be the best person I can be (and who I helped as well), through thick and thin. I got married because of love, not because of the rights. Again, the rights matter, in this training it became clear to me that it's the bigger framing of this issue, as one of love, commitment, and growing old with someone, that really changes people's minds around this issue. As the website of Minnesotans United for all Families says, 

We believe marriage and family are about love and commitment, working together, bettering the community, raising children, and growing old together. We believe in a Minnesota that values and supports strong families and creates a welcoming environment for all Minnesota
That's why marriage equality matters.

I'm curious, if you're married: why did you get married? What caused you to take that leap of faith? Was it love? Was it because your partner felt like a soul mate? Why did you get married? Was it for the rights? 

And as I think about working to defeat the marriage amendment, and all that is ahead of us in the coming months, it's clear to me that this is not a "head" argument. This is a "heart" argument. As people of faith, who believe that love matters can be at the center of all we do (we're Universalists for heaven's sake!), we need to tell the story of love, the stories from our hearts - so we can move beyond the "rights" argument (as important as that is), and understand that this is a "love argument." And the spiritual practice then, is to tell our story, to talk about why love matters and how love has shaped and formed us. The practice is to have the courage and discipline to do this, dozens and dozens of times before next November's vote, so we engage in "heart" conversations with our friends, families, and neighbors...and talk about why marriage matters and why love matters. (And if you're looking for some inspiration about love, try this from Kathleen Norris: "Here's the gospel is seven words: God is love; this is no joke.")

If you'd like to join us, congregants of First Universalist Church will be gathering on Wednesday, Jan 18th, at 7pm, to explore the role that we have, as people of faith, in celebrating love and defeating this amendment. 


Jessica Wicks said...

This deserved a longer comment. I posted it to my blog at:


Justin Schroeder said...

@Jessica: Thanks for reading and responding. Your post touched me very deeply. Of course the rights matter, of course they do. I hope you don't hear me saying anything otherwise. But to get to those rights, I think we have to share stories from the heart, just like you did, just like many of us will do, that have to do with love, companionship, commitment, and more...so there's a framework to hold the rights, not just the rights argument. The heart stories touch and change people, and changed people vote differently...and my prayer is that we'll be the first state to defeat an amendment like this...because we understand that love AND rights matter. Thanks for so openly sharing your story. I am moved by your words.