Words have meaning, but the meaning of words is often contextual, and meanings change based on societal changes in usage. For example: “Awesome” can mean, large, mighty, intimidating, etc. But in the 1980′s “Awesome” meant, great, cool, or neat.
Now that I mention it, great, cool, and neat all have different meanings depending on your generation. When a large enough group of people begin inferring a new meaning by using a word in a different context, the word changes meaning to that group and likely the generation to follow.
Words have power because we infuse power into them based on widely-held societal ideals. Words that have historically been harmless can become harshly insulting. We can all think of examples of this.
Lately, a few words have given me reason to question their meaning and, more importantly, their intent. Husband, wife, and spouse are those words. In our societal context, husband speaks of the “manly leader” or “head of the house”, etc. Wife speaks of “helper” or “companion”, etc. Spouse seems to have an “ownership” clause attached to it.
I think I prefer, partner. When we commit our lives to another person, we are, I believe, intended to become partners in every aspect of life. As partners, we are not in competition. One cannot lord it over the other. One cannot be less or more than the other.
"Partners" carries the meaning of sharing. It is more inclusive in nature. If we began using this term rather than the older terms, we could change the way we understand committed relationships. We could experience inclusion in a fuller sense.
Inclusion is exactly what the Gospels are teaching. At John 17:21, Jesus says that He and the father are one, and we are one with them. Since we are “one with Christ” we are all “partners” in life. We share one planet. We share the same water and air. We are truly “partners”.
As partners in life, we have a responsibility to uphold the dignity of every individual, regardless of status or identity. We are called to build partnerships to strengthen families and communities. When we behave like partners, we can move in the same direction with less effort. We can refine ways to work together, rather than compete with one another.
Partners is a good word for committed relationships. And committed relationships make stronger communities and a stronger, more stable world. I believe we all want stability and strong partnerships. With a little effort, we can change the paradigms that divide us. Be safe, be healthy, be strong.
Blessings and Peace to You All,
ST. ANDREW’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
555 E. Third Street | Grove, OK 74344