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As therapist Fritz Perls wrote in 1969 in his , “I do my thing and you do your thing.

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations and you are not in this world to live up to mine.” I know people who recited this at their wedding in the 1970s.

I am at once proud of and bemused by our current denominational work on behalf of same-sex marriage.

Given our collective silence on the value of marriage until recently, I wonder sometimes if we believe in marriage or just in the right to get married.

As a liberal religious denomination without a self-conscious theological tradition on marriage, Unitarian Universalists readily went along with the new cultural flow.

Our churches became the chapels of choice for people who wanted a religion-lite ceremony in a real church building.

Same-sex marriage has stirred a new idealism in our midst.

We are poised for a new look at marriage in our denomination, a fresh conversation about an important social institution that we have allowed to become the domain of religious conservatives.

Although I used to hold these standard liberal views of marriage and divorce, my professional and personal experience has taught me some different truths: that there are many stakeholders in a marriage beyond the spouses, that many people are better off working through their problems than walking away from them, that some people act irresponsibly in breaking up their good-enough marriages to pursue dreams of more happiness and better lovers, and that children, extended families, friendship groups, and church congregations are often wounded by unnecessary divorces. But today’s freedom struggle for marriage is not against the chains of marriage that bind people in a stifling grasp, but against the Velcro marriage that gives way too quickly in the face of the inevitable pulling and wrenching of mates working out a life together.

I now see divorce as a sometimes-necessary evil to prevent greater evil in a toxic marriage or to end an already-dead marriage, but not as a sacrament of personal liberation. The struggle now is against what I call consumer marriage, the invasion of market values into the intimate sphere of life.

Does it matter to us what happens to newlyweds of any gender after someone signs their license?

With marriage now so prominently on our agenda, I hope we can ask ourselves why marriage matters in the first place and whether we want to help UU married couples achieve the audacious goal of a loving, lifelong union in the bosom of a community of faith and practice.

This liberal religious ambivalence about marriage has been influenced by more than two centuries of political and social thinking on the left, whose leading thinkers have been negative about traditional marriage and family life.

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