On Marriage: Considering the Victims of Our Victories

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In Krista Tippett’s On Being interview with David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch, she facilitates a dialogue about how to come to terms with the future of marriage in light of the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the interview:

“What would it take for our collective confrontation with this issue [of gay marriage] to become redemptive rather than divisive?”

– David Blankenhorn

“As I grow older, I grow in doubt and that’s good and I feel like that’s a healthier way to be.”

– David Blankenhorn

“To actually know where we disagree requires effort from you and from me. We have to have a relationship to do that and part of achieving disagreement means identifying areas of common ground.”

– David Blankenhorn

“How do we think about compromise and integrity going together…? That compromise is not a relinquishing of integrity.”

– Krista Tippett

In contrast to this thoughtful and solemn episode of On Being, others have addressed the topic of redefining marriage with a more facetious approach. For example, there is this song by Roy Zimmerman:

And this New Yorker cartoon:

“Gays and lesbians getting married—haven’t they suffered enough?”

Humor can be helpful, but as we all know, this is not a laughing matter. As the Supreme Court decides the same-sex marriage case, there will inevitably be both victors and victims. Maybe you think of yourself as the victim. Maybe you think of yourself as the victor. But maybe those categories are not so black and white. The great theologian Miroslav Volf points out, “people often find themselves sucked into a long history of wrongdoing in which yesterday’s victims are today’s perpetrators and today’s perpetrators tomorrow’s victims.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks also provides a wise perspective on this. In another episode of On Being, he describes one of the most powerful rituals in the Passover Seder, the reading of the Ten Plagues. Rabbi Sacks says, “with each one we spill a drop of wine, we shed a tear. We shed a tear because for a moment we allow ourselves to think of the victims of our victories, the pain of the other side who were enslaving us, but they were still human and they were still suffering. It’s when you can feel your opponent’s pain you’re beginning the path that leads to reconciliation.” May we all feel our opponent’s pain. May we all find the path of reconciliation and learn to love each other in the meantime.

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