Editors' Note: Chris Glaser has a ministry of writing and speaking and is the author of Progressive Christian Reflections. Since graduation from Yale Divinity School in 1977, Chris has served in a variety of parish, campus, editorial, and interim posts. He has spoken to hundreds of congregations, campuses, and communities throughout the U.S. and Canada, and published a dozen best-selling books on spirituality, sexuality, vocation, contemplation, scripture, sacrament, theology, marriage, and death.
"There's nothing sacred about marriage," he said matter-of-factly.
Now, granted, I wrote in my book that author Jonathan Rauch said at a book-signing that he believed the one thing that most prompted resistance to marriage equality was people's association of marriage with something sacred, even if they weren't religious. And thus I spent pages in my book deconstructing the notion of marriage's association with the sacred, which makes the rethinking of marriage a deeply held taboo. Variants on what is held up as "traditional marriage" are thus suspect to the dominant culture, especially those of same-gender love, yet another taboo.
But I had come to the conclusion that marriage is, in fact, a spiritual discipline attempting "to give a future to a present love," in the words of Christian ethicist Margaret Farley. Just like joining a spiritual community, cultivating a prayer life, developing an ethic of justice and mercy, or following a vocation, committing oneself to marriage is a means to grow spiritually. In the book I quoted a romantic "chick flick" in which the protagonist, a woman, says regarding her relationship, "It's not so much about monogamy. It's about focus." Spiritual disciplines are about focus, or, to use the Buddhist term, mindfulness.
As I reflected afterwards on my friend's words, it occurred to me that their ability to jar me came from my very different view of the world. I see everything as sacred, or having sacred potential. As Henri Nouwen wrote in Creative Ministry, "The whole of nature is a sacrament pointing to a reality far beyond itself." The mystic Meister Eckhart said that even a caterpillar is so full of God a sermon would prove unnecessary!