One of the worst days of my life was my wedding day. The stress, the families, the worrying, or the details of what I might be forgetting. Many racing thoughts overwhelmed me. Where are my shoes? Are the bouquets and boutonnieres with the right people? Are the musicians here? Will the tacky red church carpet clash with my bridesmaids’ dresses? Did I eat? Will I pass out? Will my attention be focused enough to say “I do”? Will the preacher ever pronounce my future ex-husband’s name correctly or will I legally be married to someone named “Donophin”? I fretted over family and what the future will hold now that this union is becoming official, with more racing thoughts. Should I worry about how much my mother hated him or how his mother hated everyone? Will the flower girl forget her directions? Will the rings be there? Will the future ex-husband’s friends show up drunk?
My wedding day was the worst day of my life. Not for the obvious reason that it eventually led to divorce, but because I knew nothing felt right about it for me. I was fulfilling the obligations placed on me by family, church and society. I just knew I had to make things right for my family in the eyes of their church and friends and end the “living in sin,” but did I really have to promise that I’d stick by him forever? My answer then was, “sure, why not?”
Now that I am safely beyond the years of marriage and divorce, I’ve come to better terms with marriage and weddings. Even though mine didn’t work out, I’ve been able to witness many happy weddings and love-filled, committed relationships. But as I moved away from my childhood denomination to that of the Disciples, I met some beautiful people who have hard-worked-for, love-filled marriages, some of which happened to be gay. But the one thing that has always struck me as odd was seeing how my LGBT friends had to arrange two ceremonies. Usually, there is one wedding with family and celebrations; the other ceremony usually occurs with just the couple or with a limited number of family members having to travel to a state which recognizes their legal union. My dearest friends who are gay or lesbian and were blessed enough to find their forever love had to do things differently, with extra expense and fewer rights. This is a justice issue when people are treated differently. They cannot change who they are but we are the change to end this repression or rights. The church must take a stand when one group is separate and not equal.
But, for me, it’s more than just marriage equality. See, if I was influenced by a church that actually celebrated diversity instead of shaming those who were different, it would have saved a lot of pain in my life. My childhood denomination made it clear that being anything other than 100% heterosexual was unacceptable and unlovable. As I struggled in my self-identity, I found that my sexual side was considered intolerable by my church, my friends, my family, and worse, by my God. So I followed the rules, attempted to keep quiet in church and submissive to my husband, as it was God’s way.
***Praise God for breaking points!
Thirty plus years was far too long to live a life that’s not mine. Thirty years of pretending to be someone else, the only identity that allowed me to be loved by my friends, family, church and God, created in me non-feelings and non-living. It was not living but self-hatred. And now, no matter the repercussions and for the first time publically, I’m ready to proclaim, “I am lovable. I am loved. I am gay!”
And God says, “Well it’s about time. You’ve struggled far too long.”
As we grow in love and understand the implications of GA1327, I appreciate our faithful Disciples who engage in the struggle. If we truly are a denomination that believes what it says, “to be a movement of wholeness in a fragmented world,” we must proclaim equality for all. We must bless the marriages God has ordained. We must tell all that God loves them and celebrates them wholly. And as a Church, we must adamantly and frequently proclaim our love for all as well.
Why do YOU think the church should care about marriage?