Sunday, February 5, 2006


I haven’t gone to Brokeback Mountain. Not because the subject bothers me, but I just don’t go to movies in theaters very often. But the gist of the story that I’m picking up would apply whether the couple is same sex or not.


Two people have a short, very intense relationship, separate and marry other people. If I understand correctly, they can’t put the original relationship aside and are unfaithful to their wives. It’s as if Romeo and Juliet hadn’t ended up in Juliet’s tomb but had married who they were supposed to and having the tragic finale happen ten or fifteen years later.


There actually was a guest column in the local paper by Maria Anglin of the San Antonio Express-News titled “No one cares about the ‘Brokeback’ wives.” I can see where she’s coming from. Infidelity, like violence, has become such a background noise in the culture that nobody seems to notice unless we’re faced with a same sex couple.


Since I haven’t seen the film I don’t know why these two young guys felt they had to marry. Family pressures, camouflage (this is set in the sixties after all), or failure to understand that they won’t be able to put that summer behind them. Whatever, the reason, the results are tragic.


I don’t remember reading anything in the New Testament where Jesus says anything about the gender of your partner. But, once you commit to your partner you are supposed to be faithful. So it looks like we have a fair amount of controversy over what is a very old story. What happens when you are unfaithful, when you break a promise. Actually what is one of the biggest promises two people can make each other.


And here is where I want to stir up the waters a bit and try to take the definition of adultery beyond the sexual. When a couple marries, especially in the church, they promise to put each other first; “to forsake all others.”


So let’s take this a little further. Take it beyond the sexual definition of adultery. What about corporate demands from the fifties on that the “job comes first” and the spouse and family come second. Often a distant second. Could this be a form of adultery? A kind of unfaithfulness to the marriage vows that society not only accepts but encourages in the name of material success and increased productivity. A form of unfaithfulness that can be just as damaging to family ties as sexual infidelity.


sistercdr said...

You've made a wonderfl point here about wedding vows. This is something I've thought about a lot.  I've thought about how many times I've honestly failed to  truly love, honor and cherish, which is a vow as serious as the one about fidelity. (I'm not saying I'm a bad wife.  My husband is as lucky to have me as I am to have him.) I'm reminded that the love I want to receive is just what I need to offer, and I'm humbled by both the enormity of my desire and my failure to live up to my end of the bargain so many times.  These vows are something most of us take by rote, but when we stop to think about them, we've committed ourselves to something huge.

tenyearnap said...

Whew. Haven't been reading journals for a few days and missed your wit and wisom. The photo in Iceland is spectacular. I've seen the aurora borealis while living in MN but the colors weren't so spectacular there. It is still a wonder though.

About the corporations wanting our bodies and souls, not just a few working hours a week: so true! Look at how the "work hours" limit options for parents, especially single parents. And don't even try to get a job interview if you are visibly pregnant. I am lucky that my husband is very strict about "family first" and will not let work encroach upon our weekends together. He never stays late at the office, either. He is unable to get out of work travel, however, and will be heading to Egypt sometime soon. But we are hoping that will be a wonderful experience for him despite our time apart.

emmapeeldallas said...

I've seen the movie, and I disagree with the guest columnist.  The whole point is that everyone's lives are ruined, because if Jack and Ennis commited to anyone, they really did commit to each other, and it was wrong of them to try to lead the lives that society expected/demanded they leave.  And I think the movie does a good job of showing that the wives and children are hurt badly as a result.  That's part of what makes Brokeback such a good movie.  Dunno how Ms. Anglin could have missed that.


lisaram1955 said...

Marriage, if you really stop and think about what you are committing TO, (which not many do, I suspect) is not for the faint of heart.   Lisa  :-]

toonguykc said...

I haven't seen this movie either -- but I've read the script online and I know how it ends.  You've got to remember that this was set in the 60's and in freakin' Montana.  Gay guys (and gals) often found it easier to just "pretend" to be straight & start a normal family than face hatred and alienation among their peers.  I was somehow moral enough to not go down that path a ruin a woman's life or a child's.