Friday, January 21, 2005

Strange isn't always bad

Another busy week has prevented me from updating regularly. Last weekend I flew to Kentucky to be the Matron of Honor in a wedding of two good friends. In most ways, it was a typical wedding. Upon my arrival, the bride was haranguing her intended about packing for their honeymoon... they already sounded like an old married couple! The family was warm and hospitable and full of good spirits. There was the usual pre-wedding crises: the hairdresser showed up a half an hour before schedule and we weren't ready. The bride's brother was late. The ceremony and reception were in a historic home and as we arrived to get ready, the bride's mom discovered a light fixture by the fireplace in front of which the ceremony was to occur had been removed, leaving wires dangling. Flowers were quickly arranged to cover the gaping hole and wires. All the usual stuff that doesn't matter in the end when two people stand before God and vow their eternal commitment to one another. Just your typical wedding.

Except this one happened to have two brides.

Before I left for Kentucky, my seven-year-old daughter asked me, "What does it look like when there are two brides?" I had to admit I didn't know because I'd never been to a same-sex wedding before, but I told her I'd show her pictures when I got back. This satisfied her, but she went on to observe, "I think it would look strange, two women getting married. But not as strange as two men getting married."

I had to laugh at her complete honesty, and then it gave me pause. Here this young child was able to express that something was strange and different to her, without attaching anything negative to that. It was something she'd never seen before and couldn't imagine, but that didn't make it something bad or even uncomfortable. She was okay with the fact that it was different.

Adults could learn a lesson here. For most of us who are straight, two men or two women getting married is strange and different and something we've not seen before. But why does it have to be wrong just because it's strange? Can't we admit it's strange and still see the beauty? This ceremony, as strange as it was for me to see two women in beautiful gowns (not a tux in sight!) exchange vows, was one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I'd ever been to. The minister read from Romans 8:

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Then she pronounced them bound in Holy Matrimony. It was very, very moving.

Yes, I know all the Biblical arguments against homosexuality, but what does that have to do with the government? Why should that Biblical interpretation prevail in the law of the land over mine? Why should it prevail over those who don't believe in the Bible at all? Why can't churches that don't allow gay marriages simply not perform them, while letting those that do perform them legally? Why can't we be like my seven-year-old daughter, admit that we find the whole thing strange, but not turn our own discomfort with that strangeness into a crusade to stop it?

Strange isn't always bad. Strange can be beautiful.


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