Thank You, Susan, For Thank You, Kim

Rev. Susan Russell has a sparkling column up at the HuffPo. Included:

As we continue to work for family values that value all families and a protect-marriage movement that protects all marriages, we will have your example to add to Britney Spears’ 55-hour marriage, Larry King’s eight marriages and Newt Gingrich’s three (just to name a few) as proof positive that marriage needs protection, all right — but not from gay and lesbian couples who want to pledge to live together until death do them part.

Let’s talk values:

We will have another opportunity to talk about the values that make up a marriage; values that transcend the gender and sexual orientation of the couple; values like fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and love …

I think it’s time to get our bishops off this DOMA meme. It’s another loser. It’s time to promote marital and family values in sacramental marriages, and support couples in difficult times. That some gay or lesbian couple down the road from me–or even nearby in a Sunday pew–might have a faithful, monogamous, respectful, honest, and loving relationship detracts from me and my wife in no way.

If the bishops can’t apply defense of marriage to abuses by heterosexuals who fall far short, then their defense means very little to me and to other Catholic couples who are trying to hold things together in a trashed economy, at times dealing with addiction, separation, too much work, too little leisure, and few enough resources for communication, healing, and reconciliation.

No bishop or priest is required to bless a homosexual couple. But please: don’t drag us straight couples into this silly fight. Instead, promote Marriage and Engaged Encounter, make sure your employees get time off for those retreats, and do more to retool your chanceries to promote adoption.

I’d rather think of your latest political effort as Defense of Prejudice Endeavor. The acronym fits.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Thank You, Susan, For Thank You, Kim

  1. John Drake says:

    I’m glad you’re simply a liturgist and not an RCIA leader, Todd.

    • Todd says:

      Um, John … RCIA is for baptism. Marriage is a different sacrament.

      That sacrament provides much spiritual and emotional enrichment in my life. Marriage needs to be upheld, promoted, and defended. But let the bishops focus on sacramental marriage and the support they can throw behind it. Not every problem has a political solution.

      It’s not in any way a violation of church teaching to suggest the bishops are on the wrong track.

  2. Todd, I often find myself scratching my head as I hear our shepherds decrying LGBT couples and bringing out the whole DOMA thing.

    As a woman married to a once-divorced man, and step-mother to a child of divorce, nothing about divorce is easy. People may view it that way, but the collateral damage is enormous. Our circumstances are actually best case – there was no horrible fighting or cheating going on when the first marriage ended, just a sad flatline for a marriage that maybe should have never happened. (Although I say that with an huge dose of trepidation, as I cannot imagine a life without my beloved stepdaughter, so fault me if that is a sin.) Add to this, that we live closeby, the arrangement is completely fluid, we all get along far better than most and are all focused on how to best collaborate and love our child.

    I was a child of a stormy marriage and an intense family life; in those days what went on behind our closed doors would have been considered “our business” and my mother would have been (may have been) advised by the priest to continue to use the cover-up to hide the bruises and to understand that my father could not control the other urges that put me in harm’s way.

    My own marriage is blessedly strong and I know so many great couples and families who live their lives according to the sacramental and communal values of the church.

    How any of that is threatened by couples in long-standing and deeply committed relationships and who are raising families but stand outside traditional lines is beyond me.

    As the stepmother of a 15 year old, I can tell you that the antics of a Kim Karsdahsian and her sham TV marriage (as well as every other bad “reality” TV program that enshrines such vapidity) is much more of a threat. Not to our family, but these kids, even in the most vestigially aware way, see and are potentially entertained by this.

    Now decrying the sham secular marriages alone is not the answer either. But finding ways to focus on families and the power of community is one thing. Another is finding ways to not over-focus on families alone but to bring in the community at large… My two parishes (work and worship) are mixes of families, retired people and no shortage of single people of every adult age. As someone single until age 49, I can tell you, church is not always the most welcoming place if you don’t have a spouse or kids.

    And can we not find some way to get out of the duality of right and wrong? Of course so many things are plainly wrong! So many things! However, so much of life is lived in the murky middle and just declaring sides does not heal if you ask me. Give people hope, reason and more to understand that the ambiguity of life might be best healed by being a pilgrim people on the journey to be healed, thus right.

    And dare I mention that all the hand-wringing cries for holiness continue to promote individualism at its worst and the horribly misguided idea that we can make ourselves holy? Where does God come into this? Jesus did not come to heal the healthy, did he?

    I’ve gone on for longer than I intended. I guess the facile nature of these pronouncements disturbs my spirit, because it gives us little more than anger and futile gestures as a response. Yes! Let’s promote marriage. Seriously? Let’s promote community and the common good first along with the essential value of eucharistia – thanksgiving. If we have the firm foundation of Christ, how can we go wrong? We should be lifting up and not just always tearing down with the worst possible examples. At least that is what I think.

  3. crystal says:

    I agree with you, Todd. And agree with Fran too – my own mom was married multiple times and I’m divorced myself – heterosexual marriages are anything but perfect. BTW, Susan Russell has a great blog too …

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