When I think about the definition many use for the term “Traditional Marriage”, I wonder whether it is right or fair to define all that marriage is based upon what we do with our genitals, and/or who we do it with.
There are many kinds of traditions out there. But when the term “Traditional Marriage” is used, it is referring to what the speaker sees as a faith tradition. Yet, as I spoke about in a recent sermon, “Tradition” is not synonymous with “Faith.” One must be dependent upon the other, but which one is primary: Faith or Tradition?
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I am confident that no matter how this election turns out, God’s plan will not die. The world was created by God as an act of Love. That love is still here, in everything, in us, in our neighbor. All we are called to do is to let God’s Love work as it should, though us. Because, that is what is at the core of who we really are, deeper than any Tradition.
NB: The sermon was preceded by this video clip of the opening song “Tradition” from the film “Fiddler on the Roof”.
Last week we observed All Saints Day – a day to remember and honor all those who came before us, particularly those whom we have loved, and who loved us, during their journey here on earth. I know that Sharon also mentioned it was Reformation Sunday: the anniversary of that day 499 years ago, when Martin Luther nailed his list of 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
And this morning, we heard the theme song from the Fiddler on the Roof, a musical that portrays the challenges of maintaining one’s faith, traditions and identity in the face of change and loss.
So you ask – how do all these tie-in with our scripture reading(s) this morning?
To begin with, our traditions are central to how we express who we are. They are an essential part of our identities as individuals and as a people. As Tevye said in the film clip: Tradition helps us know who we are and what God wants for us.
But, what he learns over the course of his story is that Tradition and Faith are not synonymous. Tradition expresses the truths of our Faith, but those expressions must change as the world changes, and as our understanding of God’s teachings and plans for us deepen and grow.
Tradition. A symbolic act that defines what it means to be us, or express what is an essential part of who we are, or what is important to us. Like: singing the Star Spangled Banner at a ballgame; or helping run the annual church fair; making cookies at Christmas, or celebrating the Holidays each year with our extended family. The rituals of Communion, Baptism, and Weddings are filled with all sorts of traditions – something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new.
Changing our traditions means changing our perceptions of who we really are, and what is important to us. This is a problem we constantly face as we change and grow. We are constantly having to ask ourselves how to remain true to who we are and what is important to us as the world around us changes.
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Although I have disagreed with him in the past on many topics (such as abortion), I like much of what blogger Matt Walsh has to say in his recent post entitled “I will not teach my kids about safe sex because there is no such thing.”
Walsh’s thesis is – as he puts it – that in teaching kids about safe sex, “…we have taken the honesty, love, passion, beauty, and creative power out of the act, and replaced it with something sterile, guarded, frivolous, and disinterested.”
For Walsh, “safe sex” teaches kids that they must protect themselves as much as possible from the potential harm and dangers that can arise as a result of sexual contact. He feels this misses the entire point of sex, and turns it from a beautiful expression of vulnerability and mutuality into a sterile act that is little more than shared masturbation, as well as providing a false guarantee that it is possible to have sex safely. Continue reading “Safe Sex?”
The marriage ceremony is a “passing of the torch” (through this ritual of vowing to love, honor and cherish) from one generation to the next. It reaffirms the importance of preserving those things that make our relationships with our spouses healthy, strong, and supportive. Marriage is a statement of our hope and determination to continue that chain of sharing, and the hope it represents, into the future – so that our spiritual (or physical) descendants will someday have their own opportunity to join with us in making the same affirmations. That said, it is important to recognize that as our culture changes, so too must our traditions. Therefore, no marriage tradition is so sacred that it can’t be rethought or even entirely omitted.
As a minister, I am (obviously) called on from time to time to officiate at weddings. In helping a couple plan their wedding and begin their new life together it is important to help them recognize that as our culture changes, so too must our traditions, if they are to remain relevant and meaningful. Therefore, no tradition is so sacred that it can’t be rethought or even entirely omitted.
Along these lines, the New York Times recently published an article entitled “What Wedding Traditions Should Be Tossed?” Which brought together the thoughts of a number of experts on various aspects of marriage and relationship. These authors’ suggestions are all worth considering when helping a couple work through their plans to marry – and for the ceremony itself. I thought I’d highlight some of the suggestions that I find most helpful in my role as the officiant and spiritual guide, and I’ve added a couple of additional suggestions of my own…
Continue reading “Rethinking Wedding Traditions”