Marriage is a funny word. It means one thing to the church, and another thing to the state. It can mean vastly different things, even to different sets of people who are themselves married. Quite literally it means joining two things together, but the debate continues to rage on as to what restrictions ought to be placed upon it, at least in the religious and legal sense of the word.
In less than two months, my best friend Bleric Ack will be getting married, and he told me that his parents are not planning on attending. Presumably this is because he is marrying another man. Generally I try not to publicly “out” my friends in these pages, but since Bleric Ack is not his real name, and since marriage is also a public declaration of one’s love and commitment, I think it’s fair game at this point. So Bleric is marrying someone of the same sex, and his parents feel that this is a good reason to stay home. And this got me to thinking… what if one of my children were gay? What if they asked me to come to their wedding? Would I do it?
The answer is, of course I would, because I don’t find anything wrong with same-sex marriage, legally OR biblically (click here to find out why). But then that makes this an unfair question. What if I did object to same-sex marriage. Would I attend then? I don’t know. How could I possibly know? I guess I need to think about something I object to, and put myself in the position of attending my child’s indoctrination into that something. For instance, I don’t particularly like sports. Would I still attend my child’s sports practices and games, knowing that it would be boring and I would hate it? Ummm, yes, done and already done.
WAIT! This is also not fair. As much as I don’t like watching sports, there is a big difference between watching my child continually miss a ball and fall over, and watching that same child do something I am morally opposed to. We need to go in a different direction. Let’s think of the most objectionable, morally bankrupt person alive, for this exercise we will use Donald Trump, and let’s pretend that this person is running for president. Now, we…what? Really? Leading in the polls? Huh. Okay. Well, let’s pretend we are pretending, okay? It feels better that way. Fine. Now. Donald Trump is pretending to run for president, and my child agrees with everything he says. No matter how many well-placed arguments I bring up, or how I remind my child that they were not raised that way, they still want to wall off the country and kick out the people that they don’t like. In fact, they speak so eloquently about the subject that Trump chooses them for his running mate. My child could become Vice President of the United States of America, campaigning on a platform of intolerance and fear. And they have asked me to come to the giant rally on election day and stand on stage with them. Would I do it?
Now I understand. Now I see how hard it might be for someone to appear to be supporting something they stood vehemently against. And yet, no matter how it looked, and no matter how many status updates decrying The Donald I would have to post over and over again, I would still do it. If my child looked me in the eye and said “Dad, I need you there on the most important day of my life,” how could I say no?
But you know what? This still isn’t a good enough argument. There are political differences of opinion, sure, and they can be very strong, but what if you felt your child was in danger? What if you truly believed that your child’s soul would be injured in some way? Could you still support them? What if they were being initiated into a violent gang, and you found out about it. Would you try to stop them? What if they could not be stopped, but asked you to be there. Would you show up? What would you do? What would you say as you stood there on the sidelines, watching your child make the biggest mistake of their life?
And what if it cost you your job? What if you worked for the Catholic Church, and it was made very clear that you would not be climbing the employment ladder if you attended your child’s wedding? What if you worked for the DNC and they strongly suggested that you not publicly appear at the Trump/Your Kid 2016 rally? What if your grown child asked you to be a part of something that you disagreed with, and it was going to cost you big time? Would you do it?
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to consider why I would not attend my child’s same-sex wedding, and I have to admit that it gave me a lot to think about. And I tried really hard, honestly I did. I tried to come up with an answer as to why I would not attend my child’s wedding. But ultimately, I think that I would go to the gang initiation, even if just to have a sense that I was there to physically protect my child. I think I would go to the election party. I think I would go to the wedding, even if they were marrying someone (no matter which gender) that I thought was totally wrong for them. I would show up to watch them join a satanic cult, for goodness sake. I really would. I would let them know my opinion, in no uncertain terms, but in the end it is not my life. If they felt brave enough to ask me to show for something they knew I would oppose, then I would feel happy that we had a relationship such that they felt comfortable doing so. It’s not an easy thing, to ask someone to support you in something like that, that you know they cannot reasonably support. And if it cost me something, if I had to make a sacrifice for my child, then you can add it to the list of what being a parent has cost me. Because being a parent costs everything. What wouldn’t you give up for your child?
I can’t speak for all people. I know that, for generations, people have shown their disapproval for certain events with their absence. It’s not unheard of. Angry, sad, disappointed, hurt people skip weddings all the time. I just can’t imagine looking into the face of my child, hearing them ask me to support them on one of the most important days of their life, and saying “no.” And I hope and pray, for my friend’s sake, that his parents end up coming to the same conclusion.