Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wedding Belles

I attended a wedding this weekend, and it was a joyous affair.  I was acquainted with the couple through mutual friends on facebook, and had grown to love them both through our conversations.  They had, in essence, become the modern equivalent of the old-time penpals.

They got married at the church down the street from where I live, at the church that they attend, in the company of fellow church members and friends.  In the middle of the service, the elderly pastor asked us, "For how many of you is this the first same-sex wedding you have attended?"

With maybe one or two exceptions, the entire congregation raised their hands.

"I suspected as much," he said.  "See, if you had asked me two years ago, whether I would preside over a same-sex wedding, I would have told you no."

"And in the past two years, God has been changing my heart.  It has not been an easy change, but I suspect that we are all on a journey of understanding of one kind or another.  But what I have seen has reminded me that marriage is about the celebration of love.  And what we are seeing today, in Hope and Julie, is exactly the kind of love that we need to celebrate, before God and each other.  These two people have pledged themselves to one another twelve years ago in their wedding.  The only thing that was missing was for the state to catch up, and allow them to submit the legal paperwork."

I, myself, am on that journey that the minister described.  I grew up with a certain way of understanding the world.  That way limited me to defining marriage as a covenant before God and witnesses between a man and a woman. That is what I saw, and what I knew.

Over time, I have had my eyes opened to other expressions of love.  A friend who had just gone through a 'divorce' with her girlfriend (she told me in passing of the divorce, but then really explained it to me three days later when I screwed up the courage to ask her out on a date.) A long-term relationship between two men that I knew for years. Meeting friends of friends, and finding out that they are lovers.  Or married. Over and over again, I have the concept of love challenged for me, and I get to re-write my own understanding of what it means.

The fun part, for me, is discovering my own love for these people as they come into my life.  The harder part is working to redefine what my understanding of what love is. That part, I have to confess, is not always easy.  I still screw it up, and misunderstand, and misrepresent, and make clumsy references to 'these people' (see the first sentence in the paragraph).  Finding out that whatever my understanding is.... well, it is bound to be wrong anyway.

I have come to realize that if I am so flawed in my understanding of love between people for whom I have love.... can I really believe that I have a lock on the love that my Creator has for all of his creation?  One thing is certain: I am bound to get it wrong.

I am not 'enlightened'.  I am finding every day that my understanding of what it means to be a white, protestant cisgendered, straight male in today's society is flawed, because of what it means to NOT be a white, protestant, cisgendered, straight male in today's society.

I don't understand it.  I don't pretend to.  But what I can do, then, is to express my love for people who I see around me.  Today, that means expressing my unbridled joy for my friends, Hope and Julie Darby.  Newlyweds in the eyes of the State. 

Today, I raise my glass, in celebration of their relationship.  I am joyful in their marriage.  And I hope for great joy throughout their married life.

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