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Legal or Spiritual Marrage

Legal or Spiritual Marrage

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Published by: Neil Patrick Carrick on Jun 26, 2012
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06/26/2012

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LEGAL OR SPIRITUAL MARRAGE?Options for Alternative Families
 
Rev. Neil Patrick Carrick
 Families come in every shape and size today, and while many people would like to tell youthat a traditional family consists of a husband, a wife, 2 kids and a dog, it really has not everbeen that way. Many will say that is the way God intended things to be, but all we have to
do is look into the history of our world’s religious faiths to realize that that has not always
been the case.As a pastor, I have been asked about my views on the subject, and as a Family Court/Law
 
Mediator & Parenting Coordinator I am often posed similar questions. Actually, I haveexperienced some life-changing events with regard to this very matter in my own life.Years ago as a pastor, I took in a 16 year-old, racially-mixed, young woman and her oneyear-old daughter, due to difficult circumstances in her world at that time. Today she isconsidered my legal child, a de-
factor daughter. But the reality of her becoming so didn’t
happen simply, or easily.
My own family brought ill feelings and a lot of skepticism to the matter, often raising the “sheisn’t blood” issue. Attorneys involved in the court case would often tell me that she couldn’t
be my daughter, at least not in the way I had referred to her in court documents. In the end,however, even the best attorneys were proven wrong. I remember watching one lawyer inparticular disputing with a judge, as the judge tried to stop her from further arguing my
points…the very points which eventually w
on the case, based on my claim thatshe
was
indeed my daughter.
We watch reality TV shows where people’s lifestyles appear far removed from what weconsider “normal”.
GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) relationships, marriages,and families seem off the wall, miles from most of our own lives. But at the water coolersof American mainstream gatherings there seem to be plenty of discussions about suchworlds, whether it be the HBO TV series
 Big Love
that even some of my traditionalist bestfriends were saddened and upset about (i.e., when the polygamist father/husband laydying), as if he were actually part of their lives, or just some overheard remarks of how
 
others felt badly for the family on the show
Sister Wives,
as the polygamist family had tomove away from their home state, due to fear of prosecution under Utah bigamy laws.
 
Still, many members of our society are unaccepting of those who are different. My de-factodaughter, who is Caucasian and African American, had to endure horrible name-calling, andworse yet, name-calling directed at her own children, solely due to their racial heritage;even from within her own blood relatives. I recently watched an episode of the TVshow
 AC360
where a child was being bullied because his parents were gay. But if TV has
taught me anything, it’s that the power of God–
and more so, the Spirit of Life
 –
can betransforming for those who defend, and do not hide, their love for their own family, even ifthat family subscribes to a non-traditional lifestyle.While the price of defending those you love can be high, it is often a blessing, as my
 
daughter has been a real blessing in my own life. On the TV series
Sister Wives,
thefather/husband and his wives make the point that while their honesty has cost them a lot,it
has
been a positive as well. Their children, for example, no longer have to deny their ownsiblings/family. Before, they often had to ignore pointed questions about their lifestyle or tellan outright lie. For spiritual people, this is incredibly problematic. Having to lie about yourfamily is a despicable option, and it should not be how we, as a society, teach our childrento live.Right now we are living in a transformative time for spirituality, as well as for our societalidea of the family. People, regardless of their circumstances, can be
spiritually
married orunited with others. But ironically, many faithful people
 –
be it Christians, Muslims, or others
 –
who identify with a poly-lifestyle can currently only be united via spiritual and life
 
connections, not legally, when it comes to the issue of marriage.But people
can
be connected legally in some ways, and have many of the same rights asothers via agreements, contracts, power of attorney, etc. Truly, though, it is their
spiritualand human connection
that makes them family,
not 
 
a piece of paper that says “marriagelicense”.
 
If you look at stories drawn from the traditions of the world’s great faiths, including Jewishand Christian teachings, you will see that “family” is not defined in such terms as
onehusband and one wife, though many try to
convince
us that that is the only acceptable kind.Scriptures contain numerous examples of blended, adopted, and poly-families. They alsocite many examples of how jealousy and judgment
over these very issues
were often thecause of much grief and suffering.If you consider yourself a member of an alternative family, then know you are not alone.Know that there are many ministers and spiritual leaders who will welcome your hopes and
 
desires for your family, in both their practice and rituals. There are ways within our legalsystem to often find accommodating and practical solutions for various family concerns,

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