By Rob Watson
On the Friday of the Supreme Court Marriage Equality Ruling, the news hit like a rainbow colored Tsunami. As I woke up that morning, I got a message from my friend Kevin of Stop-Homophobia. As one of my marriage equality heroes, he was the one from whom I would have wanted to hear the news.
“We won.” I could barely breathe.
That day, for me, and many LGBT people I know, was a awash with shock, awe and wonderment. Everything was coming up dancing rainbows.
Waves are only temporary however, and the tide that thrusts them forward, quickly retreats them. That is what happened the next day. Some heads had exploded, and it was not pretty.
I began to realize that many people who had been long silent in this conversation were now engaged. On Friday, it seemed new participants in the debate woke up, the ones who had apparently been in a political issue coma for the past few years. Suddenly the anti-gay discussions were not the same ones we had been arguing about last week. It was like we were starting the conversation all over.
I guess that is to be expected. Patiently, I found myself in the old discussions about polygamy, gay pride parades and “sin”. The feeling of astronomical progress now felt like a reversal into retro thinking. Even if the points were old and worn out, there was something new about the conversations. Rather than exuding homophobia, these seemed to be more from a place of heterosexism. The opponents were not specifically looking to condemn and demean, but only to assert their own “obvious” superiority.
This tone played out in post after post, tweet after tweet, but it really hit home for me when someone sent me an article titled “Would You Attend a Gay Friend’s Wedding?” by Brian Orme. Mr. Orme presented a theory and then invited discussion: “There are two kinds of Christians in the world today—those who would and those who wouldn’t attend a gay friend’s wedding. So who’s right?”
His treatise was basically that, in his experience of Christianity, Christians might choose to love and not focus on judging the sin of the couple, and attend the wedding to which they had been invited. Or they might see their own attendance as an “endorsement of sin” and not attend. So to him, that was the only choice, that, in his words, the Christian guests would either be “humble sinners” or “bold witnesses”.
Nowhere in his discussion does it dawn on him that maybe, just maybe, the invitation to a couple’s wedding, a day they hold incredibly dear, might be… and is, a privilege.
I have officiated for three couples, facilitating their process into deeply felt and precious life commitments. In each case, we told their story of their lives coming together, their commitment, their evolvement into life changing love. In each case they wrote their own vows, showing their mate and all in attendance feelings, thoughts and desires they had revealed to no one before that moment.
These events were life changing, not just for the couples involved, but for the community that surrounded them. I wanted to respond to Mr. Orme’s discussion therefore, with one of my own.
Dear Mr. Orme,
Recently, you wrote a question to your Christian community asking individuals whether or not they would attend a friend’s “gay wedding.” In answering your own question, you state that you would attend. You say “I believe I could attend a gay friend’s wedding without explicitly endorsing the union… It is not to endorse a lifestyle but to love a person in hopes of seeing him or her become a disciple of Jesus. Would this tarnish my reputation? It might, but it’s a decision, I believe, I could make in clear conscience with the Spirit.”
No, Mr. Orme, you would not be tarnished. Upon receiving such an invitation, you should be honored. The couple that invited you did not do so for you to teach anything. They invited you so you could learn about, appreciate and revere the deep and abiding commitment that they feel for each other. They’re inviting you to come experience how they promise to be by each other’s side for life, to help each other grow more deeply than they ever thought possible. They are inviting you to come witness that they would die on the other’s behalf.
With what they are giving to you, if you can only think about yourself, I , if I were in control, would have you just stay home.
You see, the real question that should be asked is: “Should They Invite a Homophobic Judgmental Christian to Their Same Sex Wedding?”
If it were up to me, I would say “no” for all the couples I have married. These couples were stellar, beautiful, vulnerable, strong and inspiring. I would not want your arrogance to blot their light and love in any way.
But. here’s the thing. They, to a couple, would have invited you, even with your superior attitude, and would welcome you with open arms. In their hearts, they would hope that by witnessing their love, your own heart would open up. They would even be willing for that not to happen, just on the off chance that it might.
You see, in that moment of love and joy, they would be better vessels of Christ love than I am.
They are certainly better representatives of love than you are.
One of my fellow gay dads shared this with me. Brian Copeland reported, “I invited a woman who was anti-marriage equality to our 2008 wedding. She came because she loves me. When she returned to her work the following Monday, she told her co-workers about the wedding. She was subjected to the most horrible judgment. They condemned her, and treated her like crap. That completely opened her eyes to how she and others had made me feel throughout the years. From that day she was a changed person, asserting to everyone who would listen ‘You weren’t there to see the love like I was. All I know is that God and love were both in that wedding, and that cannot be wrong.’ She took more away from our wedding than anyone.”
So, if you get that invitation, be grateful that they did not ask MY question, or answer it with MY answer. Most certainly, YOUR question should not even cross your mind. Just check “yes” and notify your “plus one.”
Then go and listen. Go and let the feeling wash over your heart. At some point in that ceremony, God will reach you and have you understand what loving your brother really is all about, that it is not for the couple being married at all. It is for you.
In that moment you will not be humbled or bold.
You will be blessed.
Photo: Flickr/erin m