Here we go:
I am one of those women who has been planning her wedding since before she started dating. My Pinterest board can attest to this. I wanted a long, lace,appropriately modest dress and calla lillies. Since I am a product of the church, I have also dreamed about having the pastor that I grew up with and my current pastor doing the ceremony. I would walk into the church accompanied by one of the hymns the resonates in my soul. It would be a full church service complete with confession of sin and a sermon. My new spouse and I would serve communion to all of our guests.
I eventually met my person, the person I chose to share my life with. One morning in Febuary after we returned home from church, she gave me a ring and asked me to be a permanent part of her family. The immediate answer was yes, although we weren’t sure what it meant to be engaged in a state and in a church that would not marry us. For about a year, I wore a ring and didn’t plan a wedding. Eventually, we decided that we wanted the growing number of legal protections that a legal marriage offers. We had a small service with just our families in the city hall of Cambridge, Massachuesetts. The city clerk said her magic words and we were married. There was no communion, no prayers, no benediction. It was as if the church chose not to attend my wedding. Even with all my theological training, I had to be reminded, more than once, that God can was there, even if the church was not.
It was always our intention to have two separate ceremonies, one legal and one religious. Most couples go through two parellel processes. Just there tends to be 30 minutes between signing the papers and the blessing of the church. We are at two years and counting. I still hope to get my beautiful wedding with a long lace dress and an enormous cake. I want to walk down the aisle surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses. We have been waiting for the church to affirm same-gender marriages for two years. It seems like our time may be getting close.
Folks have asked me why I am waiting for this church that does not have room for my family. There are several denominations that would welcome us in without a second thought; I could have my two bride wedding next week. It is true, other denominations would welcome me in and I wouldn’t have to wait for and struggle with the PCUSA. However, the PCUSA raised me and taught me my faith. I see her like a mother. If my mother needed me to wait so that she could joyfully and fully attend my wedding, I like to think I would wait for her. I am committed to this family, come good or bad. Although the call may change, for now I feel called to stick it out with this group. To walk together through the struggle.
In many ways, I am one of the lucky ones. I have been half-married for two years. There are couples I know who have been together for decades and have longed year after year for their church to officially recognize their covenant. Hopefully, I will never have to explain to my future children that our church that we love does not recognize our family that same way it recognizes Aunt Amber and Uncle Aaron’s family. There are people in our churches who do have that conversation with their kids.
I am working to help pass amendment 14F so it is clear in our polity that families like mine belong. I’m working so couples can have a church wedding, regardless of what state they live in. I am working because I have hope for this church and I can’t wait to have my love recognized by the folks who raised me in the faith. And I want a long lace dress.
Beth Greaves is a regional organizer for marriage with More Light Presbyterians. Beth has her M.Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.
This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
I love you my friend and thank you for sharing your story. Beautifully said.
thanks for reflecting on the meaning of marriage for you. I got all choked up when you spoke of the PCUSA as your mother, “If my mother needed me to wait so that she could joyfully and fully attend my wedding, I like to think I would wait for her.” I have often thought the same way. I loved my parents so much that at some point in my life, rather than continuing to argue, I just decided to love them into the future. I feel the same way about our beloved church. Like you, I have just decided to love the church into the future, trusting that the Church’s love for me will aspire to be like God’s love: abiding and unconditional. Keep the faith!