The Common Good

God, Same-Sex Marriage, and 33 Weddings at the Grammys

Call me old fashioned, but our culture hit a new low at the Grammys when 33 couples were married. Some of them were gay and lesbian couples.

cattias.photos/Flickr
The Grammy awards televised 33 same-sex marriages on Sunday. cattias.photos/Flickr

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Indeed, it was a bad day for marriage.

First, Macklemore sang "Same Love," then Queen Latifah officiated a wedding for 33 couples, and then Madonna sang her 1986 single "Open Your Heart."

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Macklemore’s "Same Love." I love its pro-same-sex marriage message because of my Christian faith, not in spite of it. I’ve written about why Christians should embrace same-sex marriage herehere, and here, but Macklemore’s theological argument in the song is as good as any:

God loves all his children,
But we paraphrase a book written 3500 years ago …

When I was at church they taught me something else,
If you preach hate at the service,
Those words aren’t anointed,
The Holy Water that you soak in has been poisoned …

Whatever God you believe in, we come from the same one;
Strip away the fear, underneath it’s all the same love.

Same Love is rooted in good theology and exudes the all-embracing love of God. I’m thankful that it’s received a lot of positive attention. I hope it will continue to open doors for Christians who want to proclaim the Good News that God’s love is open and affirming of all people. Christ’s mission was not just to include all people into the Kingdom, but to include all people just as they are. In Christ’s all-embracing love we can no longer use human distinctions as identity markers that pit “us” against “them.” As the apostle Paul said about the major controversial identity markers of his day, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” We should continue in that spirit and make the same arguments about the controversial distinctions of our day, including the distinction that excludes LGBT marriages.

Same-sex marriage doesn’t trivialize marriage; it enhances marriage. It says that God’s faithful love for humanity can be shared between two people of any gender. And that’s a beautiful thing.

That being said, marriage was trivialized at the Grammys. In probably the shortest wedding ceremony ever, Queen Latifah took all of 51 seconds to officiate the ceremony when she said:

We are gathered here to celebrate love and harmony in every key and every color. As I look out on this audience, I’m delighted to see the face of 33 couples who’ve chosen this moment to celebrate their vows with us here in Los Angeles and everyone watching around the world as witnesses. It is my distinct honor to now ask our participants to exchange rings to signal their commitment to one another and to a life shared together with the music of love. Will you please exchange rings? Do you each declare that you take each other as spouses? By the power invested in my by the state of California I now pronounce you a married couple!

Whether at the Grammys or at a church, I can appreciate a 51 second service. The length isn’t my issue. My problem is that this wedding ceremony was in a room filled with strangers. Why does that matter? As anyone who has been married for more than two weeks will tell you, marriage is hard work. The apostle Paul has more good wisdom on this point. He may have been a bit cynical, but there’s truth in his statement that, “those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.”

The fact that marriage is difficult is one of the many reasons that it’s so important for couples be surrounded by family and friends during their wedding ceremony. This order of service for a wedding states the importance of the communal aspect of a wedding, “The congregation joins in affirming the marriage and in offering support and thanksgiving for the new family.”

Sure, there was plenty of support for these newly married couples at the Grammys. But the support of strangers only lasts for a moment. The support that was there wasn’t for the specific couples; it was for the message. So, where will Queen Latifah be when those marriages experience pain and heartache? Where will the support from the audience, including “everyone watching from around the world,” be when those couples celebrate the joys and mourn the inevitable distress of a life lived together?

The Grammys trivialized marriage because it trivialized the need all couples have for a supportive community from the beginning of marriage to the end. “Thanks for helping us deliver our message and to get attention,” the Grammys effectively said. “Now, off you go.”

And that's why it was a bad day for marriage.

Adam Ericksen blogs at the Raven Foundation, where he uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture. Follow Adam on Twitter @adamericksen

Photo: cattias.photos/Flickr

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