Lesbian Wedding Fails to Tear Hole in the Universe

This piece was published by UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on August 28, 2006; it also headlined the religion section of UPI’s main website.

It is a matter of some importance that around 3:30 in the afternoon of Saturday, August 19, 2006 nothing happened to degrade the institution of marriage.


On that afternoon, Christine Letcher and Julia McDonald exchanged vows at a wedding on their farm outside of Leeds, Maine. The ceremony was an eclectic affair. The brides wore white and processed to the beat of a Native American drum. During the service my wife sang music by Handel and Hildegard von Bingen. The congregation joined together in singing a Unitarian hymn; we also heard a poem by Rumi, a love song from ancient Egypt, and, from the Hebrew Scriptures, the words of Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. I delivered a properly Presbyterian homily. It was a joyful occasion.

Same sex marriage is a hot topic, and it is safe to say that a good number of people—particularly people of faith—would have strong objections to the vows and the covenant made on that farm in Maine a little over a week ago. Julia and Christine’s union is not recognized by the state; and my denomination, like most religious bodies, does not give its blessing to such unions.

Many suggest that same-sex unions confuse the meaning of marriage. After all, the idea that marriage is an exclusively heterosexual activity is as old as dirt. It is an arrangement that seems to reflect the intelligent design behind human anatomy, and it is true that heterosexual mating is at least momentarily necessary for the propagation of the human family.

I count myself among those who long to see marriage celebrated, upheld, strengthened and defended, and that is why I was so pleased to see Christine and Julia enter into the honorable estate of marriage. Their marriage did nothing to threaten anyone else’s marriage, traditional or otherwise. No husband and wife will dissolve their marital bonds because two women pledged troth to one another. No two single people, caught up in the joyful discoveries of love and considering the ties that bind two people in life-long commitment will demur from the work of coupling because two women have acted upon a similar desire. Young children still will play house together; at the senior prom, boys and girls in the willowy prime of adolescence still will dance cheek to cheek.

The Song of Solomon reminds us that “many waters cannot quench love,” and Christine and Julia’s commitment certainly did nothing to silence the eternal song of the birds and the bees.

If anything, for my wife and me, the marriage of our friends was an inspiration for our marriage. After all, when we got married, the only obstacle to our complete happiness was the temporary poverty common to graduate students. When we got married our community embraced us, our families celebrated the union, our church blessed us, and the state recognized our connubial ties.

Christine and Julia are loved by their families, and they have a community of friends that supports them, but their union is not formally blessed by the churches in which they were raised, it is not recognized by the state, and they cannot assume that strangers will welcome them as a couple or recognize the covenant of their marriage. At times they may need to hide their marriage to be safe.

But they got married anyway. They had the courage to recognize that their love for each other is more important than any opposition they may encounter. Julia and Christine’s commitment motivates my wife and me to keep a similar bravery in our own marriage as together we face the complexities and difficulties of life. This is what it truly means to defend marriage: finding ways to help all married people face the challenges of life with grace. This is good work, for indeed marriage is a good and beautiful institution, worthy of protection and honor.

To read more about this wedding, please visit “Wedding in Maine, Part 2,” which contains a transcript of the radio spot I did with more reflections on this beautiful wedding.

14 thoughts on “Lesbian Wedding Fails to Tear Hole in the Universe

  1. I love love and romance! Anyone who enjoys a lasting relationship encourages and inspires me!

    Happiness to all! Diana

  2. “…Fails to Tear Hole in the Universe…” and here we are more than a week later, and I note that the sun came up this morning. And I expect it will tomorrow morning, too.

    I am old enough to remember segregated drinking fountains and other segregated public facilities, segregated schools, miscegenation laws, and restrictive housing covenants. I also remember the dire predictions accompanying the abolition of such laws. In gfact, the universe survived, and so did the republic.

    That’s why I continue to be amazed at the rage engendered by the perfectly sensible (to me, anyway) notion that marriage tends to promote positive social good and that any two people who wish to marry, ought, within reasonable restrictions, be allowed to do so.

    I do hope you’ll do a follow-up on this tale at some point; I suppose it’s quite possible that any disruption of the universe might be localized in Maine, and those of us on the west coast would never know…;)

  3. Yes, the sun came up and the universe is intact despite all of God’s creation being a mess since the fall… but then Rome and Greece survived hundreds of years after they took the road to accepting promiscuity and homosexuality as the norm.
    Sorry folks… I break the rules but I’m not proud of it nor can I condone it or say its okay. I can’t turn my back on it or pretend I’m doing right when I’m doing wrong. I sympathize, really I do, yet I sincerely hope that if I’ve deceived myself enough that what I’m doing influences others, especially children, into breaking the rules that define the universe; someone will point it out to me as John did in 1st John 2 and I’ll have enough strength to either stop or at least not make a public display of flaunting God’s laws and recommendations.
    You wrote “It is an arrangement that seems to reflect the intelligent design behind human anatomy, and it is true that heterosexual mating is at least momentarily necessary for the propagation of the human family.”
    I don’t think “momentarily necessary” is what God had in mind when He said “be fruitful and multiple” nor what Christ meant when He spoke with the woman at the well about her many husbands and current boyfriend, but I could be wrong. Perhaps God intended for us to multiply by being promiscuous before or after we marry. Unfortunately scientific research funded by the homosexual community has failed to find any evidence of a genetic or biological predisposition (according to their web page) so that seems rather doubtful.
    Where does it all lead Ben… when your political/spiritual piece for UPI and is linked to this teacher’s and his right to go to school in drag http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060828-122147-2595r
    To summarize the new coverage: With another notch in their belt the ACLU has put a man dressed as woman the public school as a teacher with full rights to walk into little girls bathrooms and warned parents that in 2 weeks any child who slips and calls their old teacher by his previous name or implies that he’s male gets a court appearance. Nice.
    Am I a homophobe? No. I’m a parent whose relationship with Christ convinces me that these things are unnatural, just as a host of other weaknesses and failings that we’re all guilty of at one time or another.
    BTW: When you write from the “Christian” perspective could you mention God or Christ at least once in your story entry, the referenced homily or your maybe about page? Maybe also provide some scriptural foundation for your opinions?

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’m still confounded by the notion that the institution of marriage is somehow put in jeopardy if gays and lesbians are allowed to marry. Seems like a pitiful excuse of a mask for outright bigotry.

  5. My apologies to Jim and Rebecca for not getting their posts online sooner. I’m still new this. Thank you both for your posts. Rebecca, we’re of a single mind on this.

    Jim, in response to your post, let me begin with the end. Part of why I write is to seek balance in the ways I express myself as a Christian. Every Sunday I preach sermons that are rooted in scripture. I teach weekly Bible studies. I use the Bible daily in my work. As a social and political commentator, I try to think morally and theologically about the issues of the day. Sometimes that means quoting scripture, and sometimes it means mentioning God, but not always.

    Don’t be too shocked about this. I’m doing exactly what all of us do when we use the tools of our faith to examine a world unimagined by the Bible.

    Regarding my acceptance of Homosexuality, I realize that there are three or four passages of scripture that condemn same sex eroticism, but the Bible isn’t a sex manual. If we read the Bible literally looking for directions on how to order our sexual relationships we’d find ourselves in a mess. First, the Bible is contradictory. In Levitcus sex between half-siblings in condemned, yet Abraham and Sarah were half siblings, and God blesses their union more than any other in the Bible. Paul speaks against pre-marital sex in 1 Corinthinas, yet Ruth “uncovers Boaz’ feet” on the threshing floor.

    Secondly, the Bible endorses sexuality we find repulsive today. The Bible condones polygamy and it assumes that men will sleep with the women servants in his house. In Genesis God kills Onan because he won’t impregnant his dead brother’s wife, and then, when the wife dresses like a prostitue and seduces her father-in-law, that’s seen as a good thing.

    So I find myself looking for Biblical principles such as love and fidelity to guide me when I’m trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong in the world of human coupling. It’s easier than trying to figure out all of the Bible’s direct statements about sex.

    By the way. Is it your relationship with Christ that causes you to find homosexuality to be a sin, or is it your reading of scripture?

    Ben

  6. Jim,

    Another two points.

    1. I haven’t given it much thought, but I’m inclined to agree that people should use bathrooms that correspond to their anatomy rather than their sexual identity. But that has nothing to do with my friends getting married. I assure you that the brides at the wedding I attended use the women’s restroom. I find it unhelpful to make broad moral judgments based upon isolated weirdness.

    2. It’s true that in my homily I didn’t use a Biblical text. That actually was a first for me, and I felt able to write and deliver the homily as I did because it wasn’t a service of Christian worship. I did use the world around me for inspiration, and by so doing I was engaging in a tradition called “Natural Theology.” Jesus, Paul, St. Francis, and John Calvin, all rely upon natural theology so I felt like I was on fairly solid ground.

    Regards,

    Ben

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  10. Having faced similar Biblical criticism many times and studied the passages I came to the conclusion that the Bible describes sexual perversions but does not condone them. David’s adultery is described as part of a narrative but not condoned as part of a moral lesson. The same goes for Solomon’s and other’s polygamy and Abraham’s marriage was before he know who God was. God blessed and accompanied our Biblical heroes despite their past failings yet he did not praise them as virtuous.

    We might wish the Bible inserted a condemnation here or there but the narrative continues and we assume God is unperturbed. Regarding weird laws, Jesus said, sometimes God gave laws which were sub-moral because the people were sub-moral (hard of heart) but that cannot be conflated with His approval.

    Is it not possible to condemn homosexuality as sub-moral without condemning homosexuals as sub-human? I condemn many sins in myself without condemning myself. The world tells us we must accept or reject a person based on their behaviour. Is it not our vocation as Christians to teach the world that one need not love a person’s behaviour to love the person.

  11. Marc,

    Thanks for weighing in.

    You could easily condemn same-sex eroticism without condemning gays and lesbians as individuals. But why? What is your motivation? Why get strict around enforcing the Bible’s sexual mandates when it comes to homosexuality, but not when it comes to the Bible’s weird and sometimes offensive dictates on what it means to be straight?

    Regarding how we read Biblical passages that describe oddball (to us) sexual behavior, I think you are letting the Bible off too easily. I don’t know how hard of heart a person has to be to make it OK to require a raped woman to marry her attacker, for example, and remember God killed Onan for not consummating his relationship with his dead brother’s widow, which is weird no matter how you exegete it. God told Hosea to enter into a loveless marriage with a prostitute. Abraham and Sarah where half-siblings whose marriage was entirely blessed by God. Cue the dueling banjos.

    I you still have to struggle with what the Bible says about being straight. For me it doesn’t explain away as easily as it seems to for you. In my struggle, I’ve found plenty of room for my GLBT friends.

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