Real Marriage

September 1, 2007 at 1:14 PM (Comittment, family, Marriage) (, )

This is probably going to be the toughest post I’ve ever had to write. But the fact that twenty years ago this weekend, I got married (a radical act for a heavyset disabled woman even within a conservative fundamentalist denomination) and the difficult but fascinating discussion of marriage over at Tiny Cat Pants, makes me realize I have to write it.

All the folks defending traditional marriage…please listen up….a new dimension of the hypocritical aspects of defining marriage the way evangelical Americans do will be apparent soon.

I made the mistake of falling in love, hard, fast and unbreakable with a man born into, raised in, and called to minister to the American Evangelical Protestant faith. I was an unreligious person at the time, a kind of pragmatic agnostic. “I have to *do* what I have to *do* so get the *fcuk* out of my way…

In 1985, two days into the nutty relationship I realized that the *only* way I was going to be able to commit to this man, and him to me…was not just to *get religion* myself…and not to *fake* my participation, but learn the ropes, learn what was expected and live my life as genuinely as was possible for me in that context….but to *support* his belief, that I thought was the purest insanity for a hemophilliac in the mid 80’s to do…train for the ministry. So, I studied the NIV Bible *hard.* I did that ‘rededicate you life to the Lord” thing. I just told him that at home, in private, and with non evangelical friends I had to be *me.* Me as he met me, not with the fundie add ons. He agreed because he liked that version better….Heh. I also drew the line at “witnessing.” Reactively, I was fine discussing my faith’s positivity if someone inquired…but it was purely the way I saw my connection to God, not a Zondervan improved variety. Proactively, I would do no such thing, and was acutely uncomfortable if the situation nearly forced me into it. I can only remember one time, working in a revival, that I actually did it. I refuse to impose any belief system of mine, past or present on anyone else. It’s rude. It’s inhospitable and I cannot abide it.

It’s summer 1987. A wedding is being planned. In a fundamentalist Baptist Church. In America. Between a man and a woman.

I am summoned *alone* into the present pastors office. He is a gentle ginger haired man with Chron’s disease. and he sits me down and says because I have admitted I’m a lousy cook and a worse maidservant,and that having biological children was going to be difficult that he did not feel we should marry, and that he felt so strongly about this *that he was refusing to officiate.* He was telling me that since I wasn’t Betty Crocker or June Cleaver he would not do it.

I explained reasonably that we were two people with disabilites and so that meant that some gender norms were just *silly* for us to try and hold to. We were each going to do those things we were best at, and blow off or outsource the rest.

And later in our marriage, Brian clued me in about a discussion with a family member who said, “You know you can’t *marry* that girl!”

My husband was even less receptive to edicts and ultimatums than I am.

“Watch me,” he said.

Listen to me evangelicals. You are full of ***** . Because some of you are narrower than *even you believe!* You aren’t defending “Marriage is only between a man and a woman.” *You* are defending “Marriage will only be between those individual men and women that we believe are *within expected norms enough* to be allowed to marry. The furor over racially mixed marriages is another example of this.

Worse yet, of course, I admitted that housewifery and cookery were not the positives that I would bring to the marriage and that that was not what my Brian’s and my marriage was going to be about and that *Brian himself* was fine with that, and Pastor could bring him in and inquisit him alone and he would tell him just that. (Which, of course he did with a few disrespectful words thrown in. The rant my Irishman brought to my apartment that night was a fine one…in my defense. )

Thank God that the Pastor did not go so far as to forbid the use of the building because as bad as that color scheme was (red carpet red pew pads, red red red red…for the blood of Christ of course.) it would have broken Brian’s heart if he could not have been married in the church he grew up in, and since I had no strong pull to a church from my youth it made sense to be married there.

A former pastor, a good family friend saw no reason not to reactivate his credentials and become “Marryin Sam” again, to marry us. He and many others just realised…”The emotional bond between these two people is just too strong not to have them marry. It’s necessary. Let them do it. Where’s the harm, and it might even be a good thing….”

And so, during the good parts of the marriage, it was about two smart, geeky science fiction and/or comic book freakos bonding in the mind, and physically too. Ours was about the physical bond, and the “life of the mind.” We dissected friends lives and interactions, our own ambitions and dreams, and parts of pop culture, over breakfast lunch and dinner. (I had to learn some sports too, and in the end that was another subject to chew over…)

*That’s* what it was about. How much fun we could jam in to the good times, how many intimate moments and days and nights, how many road trips, diners, relatives, amusement parks, holidays we could get in in five and a quarter years. That’s not a bad reason to partner up, to marry.

As I’ve discussed before somewhere in the relationship he discovered his clock was ticking and that AIDS would eventually end his life, and sometime after he knew that, he clued me in.

And marriage did become something I saw as a trap, but only after it went to hell, me sick with Hodgkins Lymphoma and him getting steadily worse.

I didn’t leave him. There was much pressure to do so for many reasons, some of them quite valid. But it was simple for me, and not about what anyones *religion* would or would not permit.

He was dying. No one in this world should die without someone at their side in some kind of way. Though I wasn’t present at the exact moment of his death, it was only traffic that kept me twenty minutes late.

And then, the night of the funeral, when I had spoken over him, the last thing I could do for him and gotten through a weird post funeral gathering in the church gym and fled with my friends to my own apartment…after my friends left other people came and I was told again, that night, after that day that I *got through without crying or screaming or making a scene…*

“Well, we *knew* it wasn’t going to work…”

After which gem of comfort and support, I responded: “Get the fcuk out of my house, and don’t ever darken my door again.”

And ran to the bed that was now, for the first night, truly mine alone…and wept all night.

After *every damn thing* that we had survived and remained connected through as a couple, idiots were telling me that it hadn’t “worked.” (Whatever in the hell that meant.)

It *did* work. for *five years* and more.

And some of the very evangelicals that *today* stand up and shrill about “Marriage should be between a man and a woman,” gave me and my Brian messages again and again that ours was not “the real thing.”

Anyone who’s been wondering why I’ve had such trouble finding a church, well, now you know….

Until an evangelical is courageous enough to come to me and admit that my connection was real and in many ways a primer about what commitment *has to mean…* Screw it. Just completely screw it all. My connection with Deity still exists, but it doesn’t mean I ever need to have anything to do with the American evangelical mindset again.

The hypocrisy sickens me.

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5 Comments

  1. bridgett said,

    Really married? Of course you were. I nearly had to kill both your mother and your mother-in-law before the day was over…

    Thanks for the letter. It helped.

  2. imfunny2 said,

    Yep….there were so many near disasters averted that day, LOL.

  3. Ranter said,

    That IS sickening! I consider myself athiest, and have no affiliation with any sort of religion or church, and stories like this reaffirm why. I’m not knocking what other people believe or need or want to do with their lives, but I am sick and tired of people using religion as a means to control, exclude and judge. Because that’s what it is. Those are the only uses for it, as far as I can see. Karl Marx had it right. It’s bad enough that religions try to do this, but it is unfathomable to me how people actually let this dictate their life, actually seek this out. Again, I’m not judging, I just don’t get it. Not one iota of it. I get why people want to control.. they benefit in some way, but to be controlled.. what’s the benefit there? Any organization that dictates who I should be down at my core is not something I want to give my core too. Period.

  4. imfunny2 said,

    Religion can do a lot of great, or dangerous things, depending on the humans running that religion at any given moment. All I can say is for those still looking: Be careful about leaving your soul in the care of flawed human beings with agendas that do not make betterment of your life their first priority.

  5. Attila the Mom said,

    Oh man. Oh man.

    My mother became a Methodist minister after she and my dad divorced (24 years of marriage). She eventually married a Presbyterian minister, and they enjoyed another 24 years together before he passed away a couple of years ago.

    I have to say that they both believed and preached that God is a loving God, Who encompasses us all in His arms.

    I’m so sorry.

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