Monday, June 30, 2008

Congratulations Gabi and Helen!














This weekend, the last of the Fibbs kids was married off.

On Saturday, my sister Gabrielle and her girlfriend Helen took advantage of California’s recent Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and together with thousands of other couples, joined their lives together.

How do I feel about it? I suppose, given the environment in which I was raised, that I should be horrified and saddened. And yet I’m thrilled for them both.

I’d be lying if I said I’ve come to terms with my religion and its judgments on my sister’s sexual orientation. I certainly take issue with how the church responds to my sister and other homosexuals, though my brief thoughts here are far more utilitarian than theological. I am coming at this less as a Christian who happens to be my sister’s brother and more as my sister’s brother who happens to be a Christian.

Believe me, there is no need to bombard my inbox or the comments section of this post with chapter and verse from Leviticus or the dictates of St. Paul illuminating Gabi and I to the error of our ways. We know well what the Bible says, as well as the feelings of many of our friends and family.

Frankly, I am tired of Christians decrying gay marriage as a blight on the sanctity of marriage when, according to numerous reputable studies, more than half of heterosexual Christian marriages end in divorce. Perhaps I’d feel differently about the integrity of the institution if those who called themselves believers in holy matrimony weren’t as bedeviled by relational implosions as “the world” they rail against. Perhaps I’d feel differently if being a Christian seemed to make the least bit of difference in marital longevity. I find it ironic that so many Christians are loath to accept two homosexuals who decide to pledge their lives to one another in monogamous exclusivity, the very thing modeled by Christ and His church.

I feel comfortable ignoring the bureaucratic and economic reasons why extending marriage to same sex couples is problematic if for no other reason than such issues are nowhere near the heart of why Christians cannot accept gay marriage. For Christians, it is a moral issue. And while they are free to take that stance, I have yet to meet one Christian who can give me even one example of how Gabi and Helen’s union affects the sanctity of his or her marriage.

Destroy the sanctity of marriage? What does that even mean? The government could null and void my marriage and while it might create an avalanche of red tape, it would not…could not…possibly touch the mysterious, symbolic, spiritual, sacred core of what my wife and I share. If marriage is nothing more than a binding contract in the eyes of the State, that is one thing. But if a Christian union is an act done before God, then nothing, apart from internal cancers, can ever hope to touch it.

Is my marriage somehow tainted by the heterosexual couple who recently married after living together “in sin” for years? Is it soiled by the heterosexual couple marrying because of a pregnancy, or against a family member’s wishes, etc? Of course not. So why is this any different? Besides, it’s not as if homosexual marriage somehow changes or magnifies the alleged sin. If God doesn’t approve of homosexuality, an empty, Godless ceremony won’t alter the gravity of their sin. Nothing has changed except for the symbol.

Homosexual marriage doesn’t harm my marriage or yours, no matter how theologically into the weeds you want to go.

I am still amazed that Christians feel the need to police the lives of others instead of being satisfied with working out their own personal holiness with fear and trembling. Why the constant need to tell others how they must live? Christians are to be the salt and light of the world by their behavior and good works, not the world’s spiritual policemen.

In a few short days I will finally meet Helen for the very first time. Heretofore a voice over the phone or a pixilated image on Skype, a trip to Portland for the 4th of July holiday will finally allow us to meet in person. I am not concerned that I won’t love her. If my sister is smitten, I have no doubt I will be too. I am, however, worried about the enormous elephant in the room these recent events (and my now public reaction to them) will create.

Someone has to be happy for Gabi and Helen, has to celebrate with them, has to stand up for them. And I am happy to be that person.

35 Comments:

Blogger Nell Minow said...

All best wishes to the newlyweds for a lifetime of love, health, and happiness and thanks to you for an inspiring post. I am heartened that of all issues, the one on which there is the sharpest generational shift is gay marriage. Those who still refuse to see that all of us are blessed by God with the ability to love will find themselves on the wrong side of history, as those who try to prevent essential truth and justice always are.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Kim Boyle said...

Please extend my best wishes to your sister and her partner! I applaud all individuals who can stand against the mainstream for their happiness whether it is for thier orientation in regards to religion, sexual orientation, color/race or any other stance. My God tells me to love all of my brothers and sisters in Christ no matter their choices. It is His job to judge, not mine. So, bravo Brandon for standing by your sister, if we don't have our family, whether be it biological, or church family, who do we have!

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Brendan said...

congrats to Gabi & Helen!

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

Bravo Brandon. I continue to enjoy much comfort derived from your thoughtful and humanity-loving thoughts. You are the sort of Christian I can really respect. Thank you for restoring hope!

Love,
Heidi

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Paula said...

congratulations!!

also my best friend... life changes so quickly...

Take care my friend,
best
Paula

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie Bennett said...

Congrats to your sister!!!!!!!!!!!

I think it is so awesome for two people who love one another and want to declare that commitment, to be able to have their friends and family join them in their celebration. I am truly happy for them.

Great post by the way....couldn't have said it better.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your sister looks so happy, which is great. And your post is, as always thoughtful.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Reacher said...

This Christian stands shoulder-to-shoulder with you and your sis. Congrats to you all. May the peace of Christ bless this marriage.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Congrats to your sister!!!

L

9:55 AM  
Blogger Rhonda said...

Thanks for contributing a sane voice to this debate, Brandon. I have so many random thoughts about the whole issue:
I do not wake up in the morning and CHOOSE to be attracted to men. I just am, and that's the way it is for everyone.
It's long past time that we stop treating gays and lesbians as if they're second-class citizens.
I would much rather live next door to a stable gay couple than the many dysfunctional straight couples I've had as neighbors.
I believe that love is all-important. Do your sister and Helen love each other? Do they treat each other well? Are they caring and loving with others? Then what's the problem?
You know what I'm "horrified and saddened" by? The fate of Matthew Shepard. Hearing that Ted Haggard loathes that "dark place" in himself. I could go on . . .

10:05 AM  
OpenID writegurl said...

Congratulations to Gabi and her wife Helen! What an incredibly joyous occasion! They both look radient.

What others think matters so much less than the joy you are celebrating right now. Thank GOD that California has passed this law and that Gabi and Helen were able to join together as wife and wife!

As I was reading your post I was reminded about the whole grand scheme of things. I mean, in today's world where we're seeing death, destruction, intense financial ruin, lack of healthy food for all countries, war, heartache and pain - two people who love each other are able to join together in love and respect for each other.

To say that I am proud of you and of them is devistatingly simple. The gist of Christianity is LOVE. I'm so glad that you shared the latest chapter in their love story with us.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe it!! How amazing!! I'm only sad I didn't know before, so I could've offered more support and my happiness for you!!!!! (Gabi)

Many blessings and much joy to you!

love,
ANita

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I am very happy to hear that Gabi was able to do something that will make her happy. I think that is very important, and the only thing that is important. I have always had much affection for your sister, and I would like you to do me a favor and send my congratulations, and well wishes.

I truly hope that she will find the blessings and rewards of marriage as you, Jonathan, and myself have over these years; Lord knows I would not have been able to accomplish many of the things that I have if it were not for my wife.

May The Lord bless Gabi and her partner, may they always find His love in each other, and grow ever stronger with each day that passes!

Thank you Brandon,

Eric

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Pete said...

Congrats to your sis!

11:21 AM  
Blogger nathan said...

Awesome.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Anoosh said...

Beautiful couple!! Congratulations to you and your sister! Woohoo!!!!

1:09 PM  
Anonymous POD said...

Congratulations Gabi and Helen! I wish the best for your future endeavors!

"Christians are to be the salt and light of the world by their behavior and good works, not the world’s spiritual policemen."

That is really a very well put and perceptive quote Brandon, and it gets to the core of what gay marriage is all about, as well as other people that pursue alternative lifestyles - and yes, that includes all you polygamists and swingers out there.

As long as people of all faiths pursue a life of honesty over the knee-jerk dogmatic view of the "evils" of alternative lifestyles (I mean this as general term to include gay marriage and any other type of union that is outside of the mainstream norm), then we can see that it really doesn't harm anyone in the long run. Gabi and Helen are two adults, and as adults SHOULD be able to pursue any lifestyle they want, as long as it doesn't directly interfere with anyone else's chosen set of moral boundaries.

I am pleased to no end that two people have found each other and have taken that ULTIMATE plunge to decide to get married. They now have the same chance at happiness (or misery) as the rest of us; however, if gay marriage divorce rates in any way turn out to be anywhere near what normal divorce rates are - well I think this quote from Chris Rock sums it best: "Gay people got a right to be as miserable as everybody else."

1:57 PM  
Blogger neiltyson said...

Three points....

1) The only true measure of when society has arrived will be when a gay marriage draws no comment at all.

When it's simply a marriage, not a "gay" marriage.

When it's a president, not a "black" president

When it's a scientist, not a "black" scientist.

etc.

2) A college friend of mine was one of the architects for how the gay community would assimilate into society, in his 1980s book "After The Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays," one of the goals, was for gays to marry, like everybody else, rather than "live in sin".

Odd that marriage between gays would toay be viewed as an abomination rather than as a respectable step toward assimilation.


3) The 15 states with the **highest** divorce rates include Colorado, and 7 Bible-belt states. The 15 states with the **lowest** divorce rates include only one Bible-belt state but also NY, NJ, PA, and Il. Led by MA, with the lowest divorce rate in the nation.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous TG said...

Congratulations,

Damn, that was one DEFENSIVE post.

Smile,

I'm happy for you and your family!

5:36 PM  
Anonymous DC said...

As Always Excellent post!

Gabi looks so very happy!

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Gabrielle said...

Thank you all for your support and well wishes! I am TRULY so very happy, and have found to one person that makes me feel completely whole! I know this is a very touchy subject for some, and don't expect everyone to jump on board; however, your support is overwhelming and all I can say is that Helen and I are humbled! Thank you all, and thank you Brandon from the bottom of my heart!

Gabi

12:25 AM  
Anonymous POD said...

Gabi,

I hope that you take my compliment when I say that I think you have a very pretty wife!

(Coming from a "Lesbian trapped in a male body" perspective, of course!)

12:57 AM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Brandon, just read about your little sis.

Congratulations! She seems like a little girl to me still.

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Calvin said...

Dear Brandon,

Well, here is my theological position on the matter. Jesus said that we are to love. Any questions?

I re-read you post again just now and it touched me with the same poignant tenderness as when I first read it yesterday. My heart is broken over the rejection of any person. I believe that is the heart of Christ.

Your posting brought to mind so many people, homosexual and straight, who I love and who are out of the created or relational norm of God, so to speak. I cannot reject or speak ill of any one. It also occurred to me that both my sons have rejected God and profess atheism. How out of line is that? I love them and I encourage them in their journey without imposing my beliefs. They know who I am and they know what I believe and they still accept me anyway. We have long and mutually respectful discourse on a wide range of subjects. This is, as love will be.

I pray that your gathering in Portland will be a wonderful celebration. I bless you all. I am proud to be numbered among your friends and family.

At His Mercy,

Calvin

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brandon,

I can't resist....

You criticize those who apply moral judgments, those who, in your words, "feel the need to police the lives of others." Yet I think you have to decide: While you seem to be on the fence about whether we should grant "marital" status to gay sexual commitments, Would you approve of "marriages" between brothers and sisters, mothers and sons, women and their cats, men with multiple women, etc.?

If not, then you too are applying a moral judgment -- and good for you! As Jean-Jacques Rousseau writes, making such judgments about good and bad, high and low, just and unjust, is the defining quality of being human.

But, if you are going to oppose any or all of the above "marriages," then you can no longer justly fault others for doing the same. You can only criticize WHERE they are drawing the line, not WHETHER they are drawing it, which will also force you to defend where YOU choose to draw it.

On the other hand, if you would approve of all such "marriages," then I would be frightened by your lack of judgment, but I would then grant that you are being fully consistent when you fault others for making such judgments themselves.

So are you ready to "police" the lives of others (that is, use your faculties of reason and conscience to make moral judgments about right and wrong without which we are nothing but beasts), or not?

Jeff Anderson

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Marc C. said...

This is in response to Jeff Anderson: what you are making is what Andrew Sullivan refers to as "not even a slippery slope argument; it's a slippery cliff." I could proceed to enumerate the many flaws of your argument, but I prefer to let it be handled by a better writer than myself. Please take a moment to read this:
http://www.slate.com/id/3642/entry/23844/

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brandon~ You have a tender heart; it is beautiful.

Gabrielle~ I wish you all the best! You hold a special place in my heart--so many years in my heart as "another" little sis. I remember, always...

I will be praying for your family time. I understand...

From the heart~
Daria : )

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marc C.,

I'm not making a slippery-slope argument. (My post says nothing about that.) I'm making the argument that one has to decide whether moral judgments are fair game or not.

Jeff Anderson

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Monica said...

Congratulations to the happy couple!
"I am still amazed that Christians feel the need to police the lives of others instead of being satisfied with working out their own personal holiness with fear and trembling. Why the constant need to tell others how they must live?" I love that part!!!!

As the Jew in the family - headed for Hell I hear - I can't wait to see the reaction of those who are currently praying for my lost soul when they see where we all finally end up!!!!!

Here's to "A life of love", not a life of "I'll love you if..."!

Congrats again! :)

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

“I find it ironic that so many Christians are loath to accept two homosexuals who decide to pledge their lives to one another in monogamous exclusivity, the very thing modeled by Christ and His church.”

Brandon, you forgot to quote the messiah’s insightful interpretation of the Bible concerning gay marriage. Obviously, Obama’s dazzling intellect has influenced your views on this subject.

"I believe in civil unions that allow a same-sex couple to visit each other in a hospital or transfer property to each other, I don't think it should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans. That's my view. But we can have a respectful disagreement on that." Barack Obama

“Frankly, I am tired of Christians decrying gay marriage as a blight on the sanctity of marriage when, according to numerous reputable studies, more than half of heterosexual Christian marriages end in divorce.”

When did we substitute God’s word with the actions of Christian people as the standard to live by?

1:30 PM  
Blogger CNEIL said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:23 PM  
Blogger CNEIL said...

I like that you were so open and honest about your feelings. If my sister were involved in something like this I would probably just keep quiet. You are courageous and your sister obviously has convictions.

I think the reason gay marriage is a hot button political issue is because politicians and religious leaders ask us to pick a side. If we were citizens in a country with authoritarian rule it would be simply a question of personal morality.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

To Jeff Anderson: Yes, you are making a slippery slope argument because you are saying that if Brandon rejects the moral arguments against homosexuality then he must slide further down the slope and accept incest, bestiality, and polygamy, and marriages based on those practices. I reject that premise. One can reject moral arguments against one thing and still agree with moral arguments against other things. Brandon's full quote on the matter is, "I am still amazed that Christians feel the need to police the lives of others instead of being satisfied with working out their own personal holiness with fear and trembling." I agree with the sentiment of this statement. It is amazing to me that Christians in this country can get themselves worked into such a lather over an issue that ultimately has no consequence in their lives while ignoring serious issues facing America, like the plight of the working poor. But I digress. The real question is, what kind of accommodation can we come to as a civil society that honors the values and traditions of the various groups in our culture while doing everything we can to afford protection and equality to its citizens? As a society, we can respect the fact that many Jews follow a strict Kosher diet, and yet our government does not require all its citizens to avoid pork. The question is: what compelling reason does the state have for refusing to grant the 1000+ federal rights and benefits gained through marriage to same-sex partners? I strongly feel that the answer to that question is: NONE.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Bethany L. said...

Yay!

1:26 PM  
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