By Joe Cobb

I hope Kirk Cameron’s visit to Roanoke for the “Love Worth Fighting For” marriage conference at First Baptist Church was a good experience. I’m certain it was eventful. In the buildup to the event, I was glad to hear him say in one of the promo ads for the conference: “Your marriage is worth fighting for.”

I couldn’t agree more and hope he kept in mind those who are married or considering marriage who were likely not at the conference. Here are a few insights into these folks and our city that may be helpful to him when speaking at future events.

First, Roanoke is a diverse city. And when it comes to marriage, this city is filled with lots of people who are in marriage relationships. Some of these relationships include people of male and female gender who can legally marry in Virginia. Some of these relationships include people of the same gender who have been legally married in New York, California, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Iowa, Washington or Canada, who, though their marriage isn’t legally recognized in Virginia, live here because they truly love living here and because they believe, along with a lot of others, that Virginia is for lovers.

Our city also has people in relationships who choose not to marry until all of their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends and family members can also legally marry.

Second, when it comes to living in a marriage relationship, everyone wants his or her marriage to thrive. We all want to know how to communicate in healthy ways. We all want to support our spouses and partners in meaningful ways. We all want to support each other’s relationships because, when all of our relationships are strong, then we all thrive as a community.

Third, marriage is sacred. Beneath all of the struggles to secure full marriage equality for all people is the recognition that love is a sacred trust we enter into with the one we love.

For those who name God as their higher power, the sacredness of relationship comes from and dwells in God. For those who don’t identify with a higher power, yet honor the sacredness of their relationship, love is the universal source.

Finally, the heart of a sacred marriage is honor. I honor Cameron’s desire to have and grow a sacred marriage. Yet, when I heard him recently describe me and the way I was born as “unnatural” and as “detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization,” I felt as though he was not honoring me or my marriage or my family.

Honor requires opening ourselves to know one another and honoring the heart of who we are in God’s image. Honor requires us to refrain from scapegoating an individual or a group of people and describing them in ways that don’t honor who they are.

So here’s a little about my family and me: I am blessed with a loving husband and two young children who celebrate having two daddies. I am blessed with a loving former wife, our two children and her loving spouse, who celebrate the unique way we live and thrive as a family. My former wife is the godmother of our youngest son and my older son is the godfather of our youngest daughter.

The truth that undergirds our marriages and our family is the sacredness of God’s unconditional love – love that creates new and amazing ways of being family in the world today.

This is the greatest love worth fighting for.