Day 38 of 40: What is the purpose of marriage? We have entered into an era of difficult conversations for Orthodox Christians. We know what the church teaches, but does your congregation agree with the teachings on marriage? Not only that, more and more clergy families are experiencing one of their own engaging in a same-sex marriage, which puts the priest in an awkward position. What are we to do?
The first thing we should do is change the subject to something more important. When asked my position on same-sex marriage, I respond with
“What is the purpose of marriage? I feel like we need a mutual understanding on that topic before we can move forward.”
This transition helps us have an effective conversation about the more important issue of marriage. Also, this opens the door to talk introduce why you disagree with same-sex marriage in a respectful and non-emotional way, which is very important. As lay members, family members, and friends approach you about this subject, and more often lately because they disagree with the church, you can transition back to the real topic: the purpose of marriage. This also allows you discuss that not every hetero-sexual couple is allowed to get married, because not every couple is respecting the purpose of marriage.
One more tidbit on same-sex marriage. Not long ago I was invited to a same-sex wedding. I honestly did not know what the right thing to do was. I spoke with a bishop, who shall remain anonymous, about the issue, and he said this,
“What is the end goal? We want this person to be Orthodox, and if you make it difficult or make a fuss that person will never be Orthodox. Go to the wedding to support your loved one. Don’t make a fuss, be pleasant, be friendly. As long as your loved one knows you do not agree but will attend out of support for him or her, you are doing the right thing. That person needs your love. Be a conduit of God’s love.”
I don’t know if I got all of the wording exact, but that is basically what the bishop told me. So I went to the wedding, it was pleasant, I showed my love in a genuine way, and I am thankful for going. In closing I will say this, look for the opportunities to be a conduit of God’s love.