Love and marriage

I totally agree with this Press editorial Untying the knot: Mandatory premarital counseling an undue intrusion into lives There is way too much emphasis in West Michigan on imposing government official’s personal religious views on the general public. When I first moved here in 1999, I became aware of the Grand Rapids Marriage Policy which was promoted by Kentwood’s Mayor Hardiman and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. They encouraged churches to sign on to the policy which includes restrictions on who clergy marry, such as persons living together before marriage, and requires premarital counseling. It seems the Kentwood judges bought into this also. I didn’t accept this policy when I was a pastor, and I still don’t accept it. I offer couples the option of counseling, but never insist on it unless there are obvious, serious problems such as abuse that appear during a problemetizing interview I conduct. When two persons are in love and want to get married, they’re usually not interested in counseling, and that is their right. My wife and I went to an Engaged Encounter weekend before we got married, and we found it helpful. But, that was our choice.

Now Hardiman is a state senator and one of the main sponsors of the failed attempt to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He admits this is based on his religious convictions. I asked him not to impose his religious convictions on me because I am happy to marry gay couples. Politicians should stick to the business of politics and running the government. I advocate a clear separation of church and state. The push by the religious right to make the U.S. a theocracy is one of the scariest things going on in this country today. It’s interesting to note that the main battle ground religious conservatives like to deal with has to do with controlling other persons sex–gays, marriage, abortion, birth control, Janet Jackson’s breast, etc.

As for me, I’ll marry anyone, gay or straight, as long as they love each other and there is no evidence of abuse in the relationship. Of course, it will be a long time before gay marriages are legal here, but at least they can have a religious ceremony and know that God blesses their relationship. Who can tell which marriage will work and which will not? Some of the most promising fail and some of the most questionable succeed. Remember, all you need is love.



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