Tag Archive | same-sex marriage

Ashamed

I'm sure my baptismal dress is the fanciest dress I've ever worn.

I’m sure my baptismal dress is the fanciest dress I’ve ever worn.

I’ve never been as ashamed of my evangelical roots as I’ve been this past week. Although I am currently a Lutheran with fairly liberal leanings on social issues, nothing ever has been more important to me than loving God and loving my neighbors on earth as a demonstration of that love.

As an infant, I was baptized in a small Methodist church in Cambridge, Wisconsin. I went to Sunday school, church, Sunday evening service, and midweek prayer service every week of my life (unless I was sick) until I left Cambridge to go to college. I went to Malone College, a Quaker liberal arts college in Ohio for a year, after which I transferred to Wheaton College where I graduated in 1970. Billy Graham was our commencement speaker. You can’t get more evangelical than that!

Stitched Panorama

I’ve always been thankful for my conservative Christian upbringing. Even though some of my beliefs have evolved as I have grown in my faith – through life experiences, through relationships with people who believe differently from me, and through studying God’s Word and other writings, I still have a profound faith in the love and kindness of God. My conservative Christian beginnings provided strong roots from which I have been able to branch out and learn more and more about the love of God. I’m thankful for these roots.

World Vision - Great ExpectationsBut then last week happened. World Vision changed one of its internal personnel policies. World Vision is the largest Christian charitable organization in this country. It is the organization that has created the means that enables thousands of individuals to personally sponsor children, one by one, to provide some of the poorest children in the world with food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, and companionship – direct communication with a person who cares about them enough to provide for their basic needs. Thousands of caring people worldwide sponsor these children, one on one. My mom was among the sponsors. When she passed away, Mim and I continued to sponsor her little girl. More recently, Mim and I have periodically made donations to World Vision for some of their other humanitarian efforts, particularly after major natural disasters. Because World Vision already has networks in place worldwide to care for the needs of their sponsored children and their communities, they are particularly well-suited to provide immediate aid following natural disasters.

The personnel policy that World Vision changed is that they would no longer disqualify applicants for employment who were legally married to someone of the same sex – someone like Mim and me. In announcing this change in policy, the president of World Vision said they were not condoning same-sex marriage by this policy change. They realize the issue is very controversial, particularly among churches. The president said World Vision is not in the position to resolve controversial theological issues. They would leave that matter up to the churches. Some churches support same-sex marriage. Some don’t. World Vision would not get involved in a debate on the issue. World Vision is focused on uniting Christians to work together to address the needs of the poorest of the poor, not on resolving theological differences.

World Vision - Save a Childs LifeWhat makes me ashamed of being identified with evangelicals is the way many evangelicals reacted to this policy change by World Vision. Thousands of sponsors in the worldwide network of sponsors providing life-saving aid to poor children withdrew their monthly support because of this internal employee policy change. Apparently, standing firm on this controversial political issue is more important to thousands of evangelicals than keeping a personal commitment to a poor little girl or boy to continue to provide food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, and companionship to her or him.

World Vision - girl eatingMy heart sank when I heard of this mass exodus of support. I just can’t understand how thousands of evangelicals can be so obsessed with condemning “homosexual behavior” – something Jesus never even mentioned (at least nothing is recorded in the Gospels) – that they would allow a poor little girl or boy to starve rather than allow someone like me to work for World Vision to help feed these children. Clearly Jesus’ priority was to care for the children, not to judge our co-workers.

Mim and I talked about this, and then I went onto the World Vision website to make a one-time donation to be used wherever it is most needed to help them through this crisis. We’ve started to talk about sponsoring a child again, but we haven’t made a commitment yet.

Then we heard the news. The evangelicals have succeeded in bullying World Vision to reverse its employee policy. Rather than let thousands of children be abandoned by their sponsors, World Vision backed down on its policy change. The bullies made them choose between standing firm with their inclusive new policy and losing thousands of sponsors, or sacrificing their new policy for the sake of the poor children who would lose their sponsors.

My heart sank again. The evangelical bullies had won. I’m truly ashamed of evangelicals, at least the bullies among them. I feel so sorry for the leaders and employees of World Vision. If this story were in the Bible, I would describe it as another one of those awful Bible stories I wrote about a couple weeks ago, a story where a decision must be made, and there are no good choices.

World Vision - Typhoon help

World Vision responded with immediate aid to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

But personally, I still have choices. I can continue to support World Vision for its humanitarian efforts wherever natural and man-made disasters happen. They are God’s well-trained, efficient, and caring hands on earth for providing help in disasters.

However, I don’t know if I’ll choose to sponsor a child through World Vision again, or if I’ll look to another charitable organization for that, one that’s less vulnerable to bullying by evangelicals.

World Vision - Change a Life

 

Sibling Rivalry – We’re at it Again!

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.  [Pamela Dugdale]

Danny and me a long time ago

Danny and me a long time ago

My brother Danny was almost two years old when I was born. According to our mom’s notes in my baby book, Danny’s first reaction to me was “pretty baby Marian” as he watched me sleeping in my crib. His next recorded comment was an exasperated, “Marian cries so loud I can’t think!” We’ve had a love-hate relationship ever since – for the past 65 years. I agree with Anna Quindlan when she says, “There is a little boy inside the man who is my brother… Oh, how I hated that little boy. And how I love him too.”

Danny Marrian Kittens

When we couldn’t get along, our cats were our friends.

As little kids, we played together – baseball, football, croquet, cowboys and Indians, Monopoly, and on very rare occasions – maybe once or twice in our whole childhood – we played with dolls. We worked together – feeding calves, gathering eggs, baling hay, washing and drying dishes, and whatever other chores Mom and Dad gave us to do. And almost every day we got into a fight over something – such as which story book Mom should read to us before bed, or whether or not the other person had done their fair share of the work we were jointly responsible for doing. Sometimes the fights were simply words and looks. Other times we’d hit each other. I was usually better at word fights. Danny was better at hitting. Fortunately, our anger at each other never lasted longer than a few minutes.

Danny and Marian - teenagers

Our teen years were not our best.

As we got older, we fought less, but we played together less, too. In grade school, I had become the studious little girl who got straight A’s, and Danny had become the boy who was interested in construction and mechanical challenges, and had little interest in books. If we passed each other in the hallway, Danny would look the other way rather than acknowledge that he knew me. I was an embarrassment to him. I guess the feeling was pretty mutual. The closest friendly thing I remember doing for Danny in high school was type a book report that his girlfriend had written for him so he would pass English.

We lived through those awkward years. When I graduated from college, Danny and his wife (who had written the book report) and their 3-year-old daughter helped me move from Wisconsin to Connecticut for my first job as an English teacher. From then on, we learned to relate to each other as adults, mostly.

Family Portrait - early 1960s

Family Portrait – early 1960s

I still love Danny, and I know he loves me, but we’re fighting again. He’s become the conservative, and I’ve become the liberal. Usually, we can avoid topics where we strongly disagree. But that wasn’t possible last weekend. A friend of ours held a wedding reception in her home for Mim and me. Our friend wanted to provide an opportunity for my family and a few close friends around Cambridge to celebrate our happiness. Although Danny has treated Mim as extended family for the forty years we have been together, he refused to come to our wedding reception because he doesn’t approve of same-sex marriage. That hurt me just as much as all those childhood punches. I’m sure our mom and dad are looking down from heaven and saying, “Won’t those kids ever stop fighting!”

No, I don’t think we will. We’re both human, and I’m sure we’ll both hurt each other, and forgive each other, until we die. “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” [Desmond Tutu]

Danny remodeled our old farmhouse into the perfect house for Mim and me. He also built swinging doors to help us keep guests out of the kitchen when Mim and I had a B&B.

Danny remodeled our old farmhouse into the perfect house for Mim and me in 1992. Later he built swinging doors to help us keep guests out of the kitchen when Mim and I turned the farmhouse into a bed and breakfast.

Why did we do it?

Mim and Marian Wedding September 15, 2013 Harbo Chapel at Augsburg College, Minneapolis

Mim and Marian Wedding, September 15, 2013
Harbo Chapel at Augsburg College, Minneapolis

Sunday in church our pastor announced to the congregation that Mim and I were married in Minneapolis last weekend, after living together 40 years. Seated on the organ bench, which is near the front of the sanctuary, I looked out over all the people who had great big smiles on their faces as they applauded us. (There may have been a few looks of disapproval, but I didn’t notice them.) It was wonderful to feel the warmth of our church family.

After the service, while I was playing the postlude, several people patted me on the back or gave me a hug and said congratulations. One choir member asked me, “Why did you get married now, after 40 years?” Since I was in the middle of playing a loud, exuberant arrangement of “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” I said I’d tell her later.

Mim and I have always enjoyed making music together.

We have always enjoyed making music together.

I guess that’s a good question – why did Mim and I finally get married? Probably many other people, including my brother and some of our nieces and nephews, are wondering the same thing. Let me explain by telling a little of our personal story.

Mim and I met each other in a small group Bible study in Chicago on February 1, 1973. After the Bible study, when everyone was talking over coffee, Mim learned that I was moving to Chicago to accept a new job as an editorial researcher for The World Book Encyclopedia, and that I was looking for an apartment. Mim invited me to stay with her until I could find my own place. We became friends, and I never moved out.

Sixteen years later, on January 24, 1989, our Lutheran pastor in Chicago officiated at a Blessing Ceremony for us in lieu of a wedding. Having a wedding wasn’t a legal option at that time. In our Blessing Ceremony, we made a commitment before God, our pastor, and other witnesses to love and be faithful to each other for the rest of our lives. The ceremony was accompanied by the signing of wills and power of attorney documents to approximate the most important legal protections a marriage automatically provides.

With our pastor Steve at our Blessing Ceremony, January 24, 1989.

With our pastor Steve at our Blessing Ceremony, January 24, 1989.

Our Chicago pastor kiddingly reminded me on Facebook last week that that was our REAL wedding, back in 1989! We agree. That’s when we committed ourselves to each other, and the church blessed our commitment.

This year many of the legal prohibitions against same-sex marriage have been dissolved, both at the federal level and in several states, including Minnesota, but not in Wisconsin. Mim and I have been planning for an eventual move to Minnesota in order to provide better protection to each other as we begin to face the inevitable challenges of aging. And then last month, a big change happened. The Federal Department of Treasury announced that the Federal Government will recognize all legally performed same-sex marriages, regardless of whether or not the couple resides in the state where the marriage was performed. The impact of that change is huge for couples like us.  We could get married in Minnesota and still live in Wisconsin, and the Federal Government would recognize our marriage.

The Department of Treasury made that announcement on Thursday, August 29, 2013. By Saturday, August 31, Mim and I were planning our wedding. The following Wednesday, September 4, we made a day trip to Minneapolis to get our marriage license and reserve the small chapel at Augsburg College, Mim’s alma mater, located near downtown Minneapolis, for our wedding.

A small round table served as our altar in the chapel.

A small round table served as our altar in the chapel.

On Sunday, September 15, 2013 Mim and I were married in a small ceremony. The officiant was a spiritual director and former Augsburg classmate of Mim. The witnesses were two close friends of ours who live in the Twin Cities area. After the ceremony, we all enjoyed a celebratory dinner at True Thai restaurant near Augsburg. Mim and I spent Monday visiting friends in southern Minnesota and then we drove back home to Cambridge.

Are our lives any different now that we are legally married? Not really. Our day-to-day living is the same as it has been for many years. We have been a family since God brought us together. But now we feel a little more secure, knowing that, at least on the federal level, our basic rights as a family are protected.

We have not abandoned our plans to move to Minnesota in the future, because Wisconsin still does not provide us many important rights that other married couples have – such as the right to be treated as a spouse when the other member of the couple is hospitalized. Mim and I expect that all states, even Wisconsin, will fully honor same-sex marriages eventually. That may happen in a few years, or perhaps it may take a decade or two. Since Mim and I are already in our sixties, we don’t know how long we can wait for Wisconsin to catch up to Minnesota and other states in treating us the same as any other married couple.

But for now, we are happily married and residing in Wisconsin – already having celebrated our 40th anniversary of living together; being almost ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our commitment to each other being blessed by the church; and just beginning our first year of “legal marriage.”

We recreated the altar on our piano at home. Something old: The candelabra were used in her parents' wedding.  Something new: The flowers. Something borrowed: The cross was borrowed from our church. Something blue: The votive candle.

We recreated the altar on our piano at home.
Something old: The candelabra were used in Mim’s parents’ wedding.
Something new: My sister-in-law had more fresh flowers waiting for us.
Something borrowed: The cross was borrowed from our church.
Something blue: We had lots of blue!