We did not know Rachel Held Evans well. We were friendly, but not friends. In fact, when Constantino boldly reached out to her over Twitter to ask if we could interview her for our book, she had never heard of us. (As small-time bloggers in the LGBTQ Christian space, she had no reason to.) Despite this, Rachel immediately agreed to participate in our book, with no knowledge of us and with little insight into our project on same-sex Christian marriage. She agreed to help us when other, lesser-known personalities in the progressive Christian space declined. That was who Rachel was.
Earlier this month, David and I attended the annual Q Christian Fellowship conference. It was a good opportunity to see old friends and meet some of our readers. It was fun to answer, in person, some of the questions we usually get through email. Among the people we met was a couple we really liked, J and her wife. They approached us after a talk we gave about the effects shame has on relationships and shared that, although they’ve been married a few years, J still has trouble introducing her wife as such when they meet new people.
From the Mailbag: “Despite my parents being relatively conservative, they are very kind and welcoming, and my mom is really one of my best friends. We are going there for Thanksgiving, and my family is very tradition-oriented (we wake early to watch the parade while drinking cider and having Thanksgiving lunch, etc). My partner is coming and offered on her own accord to bring a dish. However, she was less than enthused (grumpy) about waking early and spending most of the day with the family. … Any advice?”
Constantino and I recently returned from a much-needed vacation to celebrate the completion of our book on marriage (or, perhaps more accurately, to celebrate having survived co-writing a book on marriage). We spent a couple of weeks in Europe, which afforded us the opportunity to visit some of our friends who now live there. One of these is a good friend I’ve had since middle school, who is gay and has been partnered more than 15 years. The visit was not only a chance to catch up, but a chance to apologize for how I failed him years ago when he first out came to me.
Dating is like sailing between Scylla and Charybdis. On one side, there's the danger of falling hard and fast for "exciting" but tumultuous, unhealthy, or simply non-viable relationships. On the other, there's the danger of becoming complacent in a relationship that is adequate but has no deep sexual and romantic chemistry—a relationship with a person who could perhaps be a great friend, but not a lover. Both dangers lead to the eventual death of the relationship—one quickly, as if eaten by Scylla, the other slowly, as the ship sinks into Charybdis. Either death is bound to be painful.
Last Sunday, I had the honor of sharing my heart at our church here in Portland, Pearl Church. It was an opportunity to tell a bit of my personal story, and also share my hopes and dreams for our little church. More than anything, though, my talk was a love letter to our church and to those like it that have suffered in the name of generous inclusiveness.
From a reader: “As a gay Christian, I am looking at two possibilities for my life: I could marry another man, and live the rest of my life with nagging doubts that I have sacrificed my relationship with God for this marriage. Or, I could choose not to marry a man, and blame God for the loneliness that I feel. … There's a third option, and that's to kill myself now, while I still am in good relationship with God.”
This summer we’ve been exploring challenges specific to the months leading up to marriage. For our fourth and last installment of the series, we’re talking about "Listening"—one of the habits a couple can learn during their engagement that will help them in marriage.
From one of our readers: “Friends who have been friends with us for years suddenly decided they won't be attending our wedding because they don't agree with us being "gay married." I'm wondering if you two faced this surprise heartache as well, and how you two dealt with it. … It's out of the blue when someone you've known for the past 10 years suddenly decide there was a limit, a glass ceiling, to our friendship; and that limit hits at marriage.”
Healthy dependence is good for a marriage, and it’s good for you as an individual. But it’s not something that just happens on its own. Learning to rely on another person can be difficult, especially if you get married later in life, when you’ve already lived years as a self-sufficient adult. The season of engagement affords couples an opportunity to start practicing dependence, to start yielding to each other and learning how to accept each other’s influence. Healthy dependence isn’t just emotional attachment to one another — it’s two people integrating into a symbiotic whole, engaging in a perpetual cycle of give and take.