With the DOMA decision hot off the presses this week, my Facebook news feed has been fascinating. I just sit and watch the screen refresh with anticipation; waiting for the gloves to come off.
One minute: OMGRAINBOWTEARSOFJOY.
The next: OMGWORLDCRASHINGDOWN.
And about every half hour: Something about Jesus, churches or the Bible, and how they feel about "The Gays" getting married.
As an Orthodox Christian, I view marriage (which my Church defines as being a physical and spiritual union between a man and a woman) as a Sacrament. Something spiritual and supernatural happens during a wedding for an Orthodox Christian: Christ is the Celebrant, He joins the couple together. And in a Mystery, they become one person. Because of this, sex is meant for marriage because it is a participation in that oneness. It is meant to be experienced within the context. So, taken together: having a wedding, being married and having sex are beautiful, holy and sacred.
Marriage is also known as the White Martyrdom within the Orthodox Church: you are giving your life for your spouse before God; this is represented by the "crowning" part of the marriage ceremony (Yep, those are Martyrs' Crowns. Intense, right?!).
I cherish this view of marriage and sex as a healthy, full one. I look forward to experiencing it; I believe it is truth, and I believe this because I trust my Faith. It's not an easy thing to believe, wait for, or live by, believe me. (White Martyrdom does not exactly come up as a topic of conversation at most parties these days.) But I know it's worth it.
However, I don't expect every single person in the United States of America to have the same beliefs I do about marriage any more than I expect them all to show up at my Church on Sunday morning.
To follow the teachings of Jesus or the Church is now, and always has been, a choice, not a legislation or ruling. Jesus has never been shy; He has never been a shrinking violet, but He has never been a politician, either. He loves, He teaches and lives from Love; we choose how to respond.
Jesus never ran for president, and America is not now, nor has it ever been, an exclusively Christian nation. The Founding Fathers did not all go to the same Church together. They did not pen the Constitution at a Small Group at Bible Camp, and they never intended for a particular brand of religion to be legislated from Capitol Hill. In fact, the need for Freedom of Religion (any, not just mine) is what brought those rowdy ex-Brits here in the first place. That's why it's (still) in our constitution (right now, actually). So, because the Constitution is what guides our law/political process, DOMA shouldn't be discussed in terms of religion, because Church and State are separate here. And that's where it gets tricksy, my little hobbitses.
See, within the American political sphere, marriage can't be viewed as religious, because there is a legal component to it (and Church and State are separate). So, the real question behind whether or not the Supreme Court should've upheld DOMA is not "Is it Christian for people who are in same-sex relationships to get married?" it's "Should they have the Constitutional right to do so, based on what the rest of our law and Constitution says?" When marriage is being debated in politics, it's a civil issue, not a theological one.
As much as I love my Church and my Faith -- a lot, you guys, it's changed my life in the most beautiful ways possible -- I cannot find within it anything that says I should impose or enforce my own moral code on someone who is not choosing to be a part of my Faith. And as an American citizen, I can't find a place in the Constitution where it says I have the legal right or civil obligation to do that, either.
So, yes, I am a straight, heterosexual Orthodox Christian. That means a someday I will marry a man in my Church: we'll put on Martyrs' Crowns and kiss dramatically in front of all our relatives (awkward!), and then we'll dance the night away. And you're all invited. Because it will be a beautiful, real experience, with a great party to follow.
My devotion to my Faith and its teachings about marriage does not mean I have the right to make anyone else's faith or marriage illegal. And it doesn't mean I should be unkind, rude, or unloving toward anyone, whether my theology agrees with their lifestyle or not.
I pray I have spoken the Truth in love, and that I can live it the same way. And I hope for your patience and respect as I spend my life figuring out the best way to do so.
Follow Beth Hopkins on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bethahop