What a marvelous thing that any day now, the New York legislature is likely to legalize marriage between two men or two women!
Exactly six years ago Saturday, June 25, I had the great honor to preside at the wedding of two women, Nancy and Brenda. For me the only way to describe it is that I experienced Pentecost — the Holy Spirit palpably fell upon us that day. When I visited with them last week, moments in the ceremony were still vivid: Nancy watching Brenda as she processed down the aisle, Brenda, lighting of one candle from two, marking the fusion of their families, and their loved ones spontaneously offering prayers.
When I was asked by Nancy and Brenda to preside at their wedding, the decision to do so was my choice. Clergy have always had and will continue to have the right to decline a request to preside at any wedding, for any reason. The separation between church and state allows for protections of religious conscience like this.
The fear that religious protections are being infringed upon has no basis. So what a shame that these fears of imagined requirements are holding up passage of this state action!
I see it is a shame because those who are speaking out of fear are missing such a powerful moment of the moving of the Holy Spirit. They could be one with the rushing widening of human experience and awareness but they fight this flow rather than join in it.
It is an even more terrible shame because religious objection to same-gender love forces a wedge between sexuality and spirituality that has caused immense suffering for good, believing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and the churches and communities that they yearn to serve. What a change we would see if instead of shunning these good, faithful believers, we welcomed them with open arms, as Jesus welcomed those who were shunned in His time!
Take the example of Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. The pastor there trembled when he returned from sabbatical to find that a lesbian was nominated to serve as deacon. He feared that the “roof would fall in.” When the voting members of the church were confronted with the question, “Would our Beloved Jesus ever call a 25-year, covenanted relationship of love and care unholy?” they unanimously answered “No.” The pastor now reports that the “decision triggered amazing things” like estranged believers returning, a burgeoning Sunday school, an invigorated youth program, and most of all, a proud and inclusive congregation.
Just like this testimony from Shepherdstown, just like what I’ve witnessed between Nancy and Brenda and countless other committed couples, and just like my own 30-year partnership with my husband – in the end, the heart of marriage will always be the love between the partners.
The Holy Spirit is opening our eyes to this — can’t you see it! I give thanks that New York will soon join those who do and invite us all to make sure we do not miss jumping on board this joyful movement of God.
Janet Edwards | Jun 23, 2011 1:26 PM