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May 31, 2012 8:21 am

AMEND CORNER: The privileges of matrimony

Written by Don Amend

In just a few days, Karen and I will observe our wedding anniversary.

 

 

Unlike the male halves of stereotyped married couples in the TV sitcoms, I’m the one who remembers the date in our household. Even when Karen does remember the day, she almost always has to ask me which anniversary it will be. Since we’ve observed quite a few anniversaries together, that’s understandable. I sometimes have to do a quick mental math calculation myself to figure out just how many years of marital bliss we’ve experienced.

Not surprisingly, having shared so many trips around the sun together, we have few secrets between us. I have been thoroughly educated in her preferences, her moods and her habits, just as she has learned everything about mine. Consequently, our life together has been comfortably predictable.

But life isn’t predictable, and this upcoming anniversary comes in the midst of a big change in our relationship. My recent medical emergency has changed the dynamic in our marriage, and there’s no telling how long that change will last. There are things I simply can’t do right now, and many more that I need help doing. Even some tasks that I can do, such as brewing a pot of coffee, sometimes exhaust me, and I find it safer to leave them to my other half.

Then there is the mental element of my condition. It’s depressing to have to call a plumber to replace a faucet, something I have done dozens of times, or to listen to the sound of the lawn mower outside while I sit in a recliner as my wife does a task I have always enjoyed doing. More importantly, I am frustrated by the fact that my independence is nearly non-existent and I’m distressed at not being able to go to work.

Fortunately, I have Karen, who, without hesitation, has adapted to her altered role in our relationship. She has assumed my household responsibilities, become my personal assistant to a greater extent than ever, taken over supervision of my daily routine and facilitated whatever outside activities I try to undertake.

More important, she has become my psychologist, picking me up when I’m down, pointing out the progress I have made when I’m fearful that I’ll never get better and encouraging me to work at overcoming my pain and frustration.

She hasn’t complained about any of this, even though I know that she shares my anxiety, my frustration, my fears and my pain.

As a result, while I have always realized that I married well, I am gaining a new realization of just how well I did when I selected my bride. More than that, I have a deeper appreciation of how important marriage is to me.

It is within that context that I have been listening to the seemingly endless battle in this nation over same-sex marriage, and this experience has strengthened my belief that government should give legal recognition to such unions.

I know quite well what the Bible says about the morality of homosexuality, and for that reason, I don’t believe churches should be obligated to recognize same-sex marriages or perform ceremonies for them. 

But Christians, even the most literal readers of the Bible, tend to pick and choose the moral issues they get excited about, and it seems the sins they condemn the most, such as same-sex marriage, involve sex. But the Bible teaches that no person is completely moral, and Scripture treats all sin equally. One passage condemning homosexual behavior, for example, lists it with a number of other moral failings, including drunkenness and lying, but no one argues that drunks should not have the right to marry. And if lying meant you couldn’t get married, not many of us would enjoy the privilege.

The bottom line, though, is that, in the eyes of the government, gay and lesbian individuals are American citizens. Homosexuality is not a crime, nor is sexual behavior between consenting adults, and neither should disqualify an individual from being treated equally. To me, this means gay and lesbian citizens should have the right to have their unions recognized by the state.

There also is a deeper issue, which my present situation has brought home to me. As a married person, I am spiritually bound to a partner who shares my pain, my fears and my hopes. She is committed to providing me with inspiration, comfort, and, when I need it, criticism. And she has the legal power to intercede with my medical care providers, insurance companies and the government, because that bond between us is officially recognized by the state of Wyoming as a marriage.

Gay and lesbian people need that relationship and recognition just as I do, and it would be the worst kind of hypocrisy for me to support a policy that would deny the same kind of comforting bond I enjoy with my spouse to another loving couple, regardless of their gender.

Jesus didn’t say much about homosexuality, but he had a lot to say about hypocrites. None of it was good.

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