Saturday, February 18, 2006

Live From Wedding Central

Well, today's the big day. The family is gathered, the rehearsal is behind us, the flowers are being arranged as we speak and the last minute call to the rental place has scored the in-case-it-rains-on-our-parade party tent to shelter the patio for the reception following the service. And this afternoon -- God willing and the primates notwithstanding -- my partner Louise and I will with much joy and a church full of people celebrate the blessing of the covenant of our relationship promising to love and cherish each other until death do us part.

As we've journeyed together toward this day I've been struck over and over again by just how ordinary AND extraordinary it has all been. Ordinary in that just about every cliché about wedding preparation that most of us think we're too "evolved" to get sucked into has played out -- fretting about fonts for the invitation, maps to the reception, who's going to stay in which hotel and who should sit next to who at the rehearsal dinner.

But all that’s behind us now. My mother is here from Minnesota, Louise’s brother from Colorado and my son home on leave from the Army. The wheels are in motion and the clock is ticking down and pretty soon it will be time to head to the church and wait for Henry Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune” to signal the thurifer to lead us in to the celebration of love and commitment.

So what am I doing on the computer blogging on the morning of my wedding? Still trying to make sense of what it is about what we are about to celebrate that holds such threat – that engenders such fear – that elicits such alarm. Still musing about one of the statements/questions from the radio talk show host the other morning – the one that started with something like, “Since you’re obviously rejecting traditional marriage …”

What strikes me this morning is that far from rejecting traditional marriage we’re embracing it – claiming it – committing ourselves to it. And I’m wondering this morning why whenever I hear the opposition talking about “defining marriage” we only hear about the “who” rather than the “what.”

I’m wondering if the sanctity of marriage everyone is so concerned about might not be better preserved if we talked more about the values we want to see represented in marriage rather than solely on the genders of the people seeking to commit themselves to each other.

I’m wondering if we heard more about the standards the Episcopal Church affirmed in its last two General Conventions of relationships “characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God” we’d be hearing less about “anything goes” theology.

Those are the values Louise and I are claiming for ourselves and for our relationship this afternoon as we commit ourselves to each other and to continuing our journey together into God’s future as partners in life. We bring all the hopes and dreams and expectations and anxieties to this holy day that every other couple that have ever dared to make this awesome commitment have brought with them down the aisle.

We also bring a combination of joy and sadness. There is tremendous joy and gratitude that we live in a place and time and community where our love and commitment is considered really quite ordinary and our families and parish community are surrounding us with support and blessing. And there is grief and sadness at the awareness that what we are about to celebrate is not yet available to every gay or lesbian couple yearning to claim for themselves the church’s blessing on their lives together that is their baptismal claim as members of the Body of Christ.

And there we are – committed to working and praying and advocating and, yes, agitating, until the gifts we have received are truly available to all. In the meantime, there’s a wedding to get ready for and living-happily-ever-after to get on with … a happily-ever-after we pray will be summed up in these words from this afternoon’s Offertory Anthem:

All our meals and all our living make as sacraments of thee,
That by caring, helping, giving, we may true disciples be.
Alleluya! Alleluya! We will serve thee faithfully.

31 comments:

Rachel Andrews said...

I just want to congratulate you on your impending vows and marriage. My partner and I did this almost two years ago - a very homecook ceremony and celebrations, attended by 50 of our dearest dears. It was an amazing day.

What I was struck with the most on that day was how little anything matter except for our love of each other, and that we were loved together, and individually by every person in that room. It was very empowering.

Tony said...

I can't speak for the millions or billions of Christians who stand in traditions, including the Anglican Communion, that disapprove of your action. But I can say that it is not compatible with Christian teaching. This is what the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, and numerous other church bodies continue to say. I don't fear what you are doing; I am just saying that what you are doing does not belong in the church of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Too bad. You are now a fully visible obstructionist. You could have harmed so feerof people had you just gone on...

Greg Griffith said...

The reason people focus on the "what" rather than on the "who" is that the "what" is the biblical definition of Holy Matrimony, endorsed by scripture throughout the Bible and by Jesus Christ Himself, and understood for 2,000 years by Christians the world over.

The "who," in your and your partner's case, are people who would hold their idea of marriage above that of the Bibles, and the rest of the worldwide Christian community.

Your civil-right approach to this issue is hollow. In denying blacks the right to vote, the law had to look specifically at the issue of race, and treat one different than the other, in order to accomplish the denial. But with marriage, the law doesn't discriminate AT ALL on the basis of sexual orientation: You may marry someone of the opposite sex NO MATTER WHAT your sexual orientation is.

Finally, Tony is right. No one fears what you are doing, but sadly for you and your partner, this "marriage" is not of Christ, and it never will be, no matter what kind of semantic gymnastics you're able to perform.

Anonymous said...

You are a joke. The good thing about lez-beans and homos is that you don't breed. Let the herd weed itself out, I say. All you gays want is approval of the lifestyle you choose to engage in. And the fact that you bend the bible to suit your own selfish needs is outrageous and blasphemous. You are killing the church, polluting it with sin. You should be ashamed of yourself and beg for God's forgiveness. I know if I were in charge, you'd be deposed. Go join whatever gay organization you want, but leave the Anglican Church out of it.

Thomas Hunter said...

Congratulations! I know that God will bless your lives together. I'm sorry that other commentators seem so upset by your affirmation of love and respect. I hope you can ignore their bad manners and their faulty theology.

Our best wishes for a great life together.

Dick Comegys said...

Blessings! May you and Louise continue in your life's journey together to fulfill the commandment of Jesus: "Love one another as I have loved you!"
(I can never figure out what there is not to understand about that.)

Peace!
Dick Comegys

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that you have taken action which is not blessed by God, and will split the Church.

May God have mercy upon you.

Scott

Rev Dr Mom said...

Many blessings on you and your partner as you take this step together!

Dusty Parker said...

May God's Peace and Blessings be with both of you! As I have said before, THANK YOU for you service to Integrity! I so enjoy reading your sermons and visiting your blog. As a gay Christian southerner and Vestry member, I pray for the day when my partner of 18 years and I can do the same!
Let's continue to pray for those who curse us as Jesus directed us to do, and pray that they will come to understand Christ's love.
In His Name,
Dusty Parker
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Charleston, SC

A Wedding Guest said...

I was one of the people privileged to attend this beautiful ceremony today. Thank you, Susan and Louise, for such a wonderful gift, sharing the blessing of your loving relationship with our faith community!

As for the 2000 years and the vast majority of civiliation being opposed to this, well, that argument rings hollow to me. Vast majorities have been wrong before about things for thousands of years. Didn't the Catholic church only recently acknowledge that it may have had a hand in Biblically-centered anti-Semitism, and didn't it take it 500 years to apologize for having a hissey fit when someone suggested that the earth revolved the sun? I could go on...

It takes time for the non-oppressed majorities to eventually see their oppression in themselves. But the arc of history eventually, inevitably, bends toward justice and love for all.

God bless you both and the wonderful gifts that you give to all of us!

Anonymous said...

This whole issue really saddens me. It is the church's fault, that christian's have even gotten the idea that homosexuality is acceptable to God. In fact, God has only even ordained marriage between a man and a woman. In Paul's writings, God says he gave over men to their lusts for one another (men for men) and called it an abomination. It wasn't a gift He was giving, it was more like dusting His feet at the blatant sin going on at the time. It was God's grace keeping them from it in the first place. We are all created in the image of God, therefore I know deep down inside your soul you know what is right and what is not. May your reflection of this bring you both to repentance. What a testimony to the world and Christ that would be.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the definition of marriage offered here, as

relationships “characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God”

Is this all marriage is - for society at large and Christians in particular? Historically marriage also proceeds from couple to children, and from children to family, and from family to society. Marriage lasts from its inception until death. For me, at least, its a choice to participate in something other than a seemingly infintely maleable social construct.

The problem with the Episcopal Church's definition of marriage, at least the version offered above, is that it is insufficiently different from society's definition of marriage, and says nothing about what often happens in practice: when "fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God” get tough, people often walk away from the whole thing. To some new interest, be it a person, a job or whatever. Isn't that part of the practical definition, too? Look at the number of failed marriages amoung Episcopal clergy, for example?

Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand the parties to this new union have both been married before. What about justice for their former partners? Don't they stand on the margins today, along with all those who stood in witness to the previous marriage?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

just curious (poster above), surely you realize that solemn vows of "til death do us part" made before God and Man are merely quaint relics -- anachronistic symbols of the oppressive patriarchy. Such things are not to be taken seriously these days -- we know so much more now!

Anonymous said...

How can their union be monogamous ("one marriage") like the Episcopal Church statement says if they were both already married and divorced?

kendall said...

Susan, might it be possible to know which radio station(s) you were on as I would be interested to know if possible what was said.

Thanks.

Wendy(another guest) said...

I also loved your ceremony! One of the highlights for me was the notion that we were sending you out to do the work God has given (and will give) you to do. Who is anyone to second-guess the heart and mind of God - to limit the breadth of God's reach into our troubled world? If we believe that we are here to be instruments - Christ's hands and feet - how can we dare to presume how and with whom we are to serve Him?
BTW, I believe that the revelation of God is progressive. It's not just something that was laid down once and for all. We are all children of God learning together, and the more we encounter each other (in all our beautiful diversity)the more fully we as a body will come to know our Creator. No one can say "I have no need of you".
Love is always good.

Anonymous said...

LOL, Wendy asks:

Who is anyone to second-guess the heart and mind of God?

And then proceeds to do just that:

I believe that the revelation of God is progressive. It's not just something that was laid down once and for all.

What you are advocating here Wendy has no basis in scripture -- none whatsoever. Indeed the opposite is true, what you are advocating here is soundly admonished throughought the Word of God.

So i ask, as politely as i can: What are you doing "second-guessing" the Almighty?

Kathy said...

Congratulations to you and your partner Louise on your marriage! The imaginary menace cooked up by some of the commentators merely demonstrates their own unhappiness in life.

Anonymous said...

Whatever your relationship may be, and whatever privileges you may enjoy under the civil law, it is not Christian marriage. Those who would revise Christian teachings and ethics must first debunk or transform the Bible, and your very actions and claims are an attack on Holy Scripture. As a "priest" you vowed to be a steward of the faith and morals of the Church as lived out for two millenium, instead you have defied, decried amd reinvented the clear teaching of the Bible. Therefore, your sin is the greater.

Wendy said...

"Anonymous", in talking about God revealing God's self to us ongoingly and through each other, I am just expressing a belief that I have come to accept through my personal relationship with my Creator, my relationships with my brothers and sisters, and, yes, Scripture. None of us profit from responding to each others' earnest statements of faith with dismissive statements such as, "LOL". Again I say that we have much more to learn from God when we recognize the love God sends into the world through others.

Michael Cudney said...

Dear Susan,
Much joy to you both! Peace as well. May the all-inclusive Lord embrace and keep you as one.
You are a blessed witness to us all.
Michael
New York City

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody! Being gay is okay!

Marianne said...

God is weeping over the unkind comments made above. Gays and lesbians are God's children also. Straight people do not have a monopoly on God's love and acceptance.

Anonymous said...

Dear Marianne,

"Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand the parties to this new union have both been married before. What about justice for their former partners? Don't they stand on the margins today, along with all those who stood in witness to the previous marriage?"

God is weeping about this, too.

jg6544 said...

Susan & Louise - it was a beautiful service in every way and for those of us privileged to share the afternoon with you, a reaffirmation of our shared Christian faith.

To those hateful, "anonymous" posters, small wonder you're ashamed to give your names.

To greg griffith - good sophistry but bad argument. I'm old enough to remember the time when interracial marriage was prohibited in several states and criminal misconduct in some of those. An argument similar to yours was advanced to justify miscegenation - "Negroes can marry anyone they want so long as the other person is also a Negro". The Supreme Court made short work of that argument. Think before you post, why don't you?

Bicyclefool said...

I am so happy for you and Louise and of course Luna. Now I can only hope and pray that she can get you away from them damn Dodgers and have you rooting for a real team, like the Angels.
Peace
Vicki

africantrekker said...

Congratulations!!

I was at this wedding and it was an amazing celerbation of love, life and community. It was a shining example of how God's love is freely given to all, regardless. To see you two, at the altar, fully accepted was an amazing experience that really touched me to the core.

What mattered most at this wedding, was that you two courageous women took a very public stand to rightly claim God's love and blessing on your relationship and that the parish community, family and friends, were there to support you two along the way.

You have given me hope that it is possible to have a high church lesbian wedding. :)

Raccoon said...

Louise and Susan -- love and God bless. I was so moved by this ceremony; it was so lovely, and such a testament to love of individuals for one another, and for a community for its members.

It is hard to read some of the comments here just based on the sheer nastiness and one-up-manship involved. There's such a desire to win, to prove you wrong, to make you feel small, unloved, unwanted by God. I know you know that these people are not offering you the Gospel. There's no good news in God's hatred for what is good and life-bringing in your life. God's good news to us is that we are loved and wanted, and that we are empowered with the Spirit to love others, to live out love in our lives.

To those who are focused on the Bible and deny progressive revelation, I recommend Psalm 119. Why do you think the psalmist asks over and over again for revelation and knowledge of God's will, if it is simple and clear and comes just once and for all? Rather, we need to keep asking, keep listening in humility and openness, for the words of the Spirit to us, which may not be what we think they should be, or what others approve of. And again, Paul's reminding us that our understanding of God's truth will change at different points in our lives with God; and Isaiah, God telling us that our ways are not God's ways, and that our thoughts are not God's thoughts. There is so much room in God's love for us for things that might strike us as strange, challenging, different from all that has come before. God is not bound by our tradition or our history or even by our Bible; God is greater than that, and God is alive in our listening and loving, not in condemnation and silence.

Greg Griffith said...

jg6544 said:

I'm old enough to remember the time when interracial marriage was prohibited in several states and criminal misconduct in some of those. An argument similar to yours was advanced to justify miscegenation - "Negroes can marry anyone they want so long as the other person is also a Negro". The Supreme Court made short work of that argument. Think before you post, why don't you?

You first.

The old law you mention was based on an incorrect definition of marriage, which further supports my point. The correct definition of marriage is oriented around sex, not race. Marriage is not between two Negroes, or two Caucasians; it is between a man and a woman.

Besides, even within Negro-Negro marriage, two Negro men couldn't marry each other; neither could two Negro women.

Sophistry indeed.

latenightmom said...

Anglicans, your church has been nibbling away at natural-law for over a century, so please do not act surprised nor indignant when your same-sex members marry one another. You have paved this road and here you are. As for gays, I wish you all the happiness and love that I wish upon my straight friends. I do not understand your union (which I prefer to call "partnership") but I will leave the ultimate call to the Almighty. Peace to all.