This weekend I will be officiating at my first same-sex wedding.
Last summer I received a request to conduct the wedding of Brenda, a woman from Akron, and Quanata, her fiancée from Columbus, this April. I met with the couple a number of times for pre-marital counseling, and got to know them pretty well.
When Brenda first contacted the church, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges was less than a month old. For the first time in history, Ohio residents could legally marry someone of the same sex, and Brenda and Quanata wanted to take advantage of the new reality. Both women are Christians, and they wanted a religious ceremony, but neither of them belong to a welcoming and affirming church, so they turned to me.
This feels like a significant moment, and I have wondered what I might say during the ceremony to highlight its importance. Should I talk about the long and painful struggle of courageous LGBT activists and their allies to make this day possible? Should I mention the soul-searching and sacrifice that many of us who want to be faithful to God have gone through in our journey to become welcoming and affirming? Should I make a big deal of the tectonic cultural shifts that have taken place in our country in recent decades to bring us to this point? Should I use this opportunity to criticize those Christians who still insist on the marginalization of sexual minorities (as well as the subjugation of women) on dubious “biblical” grounds?
The wedding will take place at a hotel, so there’s no pulpit, but I wondered if I should utilize my “bully podium” to make Brenda and Quanata’s wedding into some kind of theologico-political statement.
I have decided not to do that. In fact, I have decided not to say anything at all about the fact that this wedding will have two brides instead of one bride and one groom. I think it would be better to treat this wedding the same way I treat any other wedding I perform, except for the pronouns. What better way to herald the legitimacy of same-sex marriage within the context of the church than by assuming it is just as "normal" as opposite-sex marriage? Why raise strident voices in defense of something if we believe it to be perfectly acceptable and good in God’s sight? Simply to do it without fanfare or defensiveness may constitute a more powerful argument than a lot of … well, argument.
Another reason I came to this decision is because I don’t want to use Brenda and Quanata as implements to advance my own agenda. They deserve to have their personhood and dignity respected—that’s what being welcoming and affirming is all about, after all, right? Their wedding day is just that: their day. It’s not a soapbox for me to climb atop and shout my jeremiads. I saw someone hijack a couple’s wedding once to promote his own agenda in opposition to marriage equality, and I found it deeply offensive. I don’t want to be that guy.
I’ll save my jeremiads for the pulpit on Sunday mornings, when folks have learned to expect them.