morning mountain majesty
In my earlier years I was taught that the "primary" purpose for getting married was to produce children. I no longer think this is true. I think that "primarily" married people serve as living icons - reminders of what it means to be enlightened and fully human.
I firmly believe that the isolated, individual self is (as the Buddhists say) an illusion and a myth. Human beings "are" a relationship - interdependent and interconnected. Married people are living reminders of who we are at the core: They are linked together-the two as one, working for the welfare of one another, surrendering their own self interests for the good of each other, committing to relationship in good times as well as in bad times.
Over the years I have seen many married people who have served as wonderful icons of what it means to be "fully human," and I have been grateful for the inspiration of their married lives. Most recently one particular couple has deeply inspired me as a perfect example of marital love. They just happen to be two men.
These men are long-time friends of my wife and I - former parishioners. They have been together as a couple for more than 25 years, and now that the marriage laws have changed in the State of California have decided to "officially" recognize their already-existing union; and they have afforded me the great honor of presiding at their upcoming wedding.
A few days ago our friends came out to the desert so that we could plan their marriage service. These men are long-time-committed Christians. To me, they have always served as a model of what Christ-followers should be. They live lives of radical hospitality - generous with their service to others, willingly sharing their resources. So, of course, their marriage ceremony will be a Christian liturgy held in the church.
When our friends joined us to plan their wedding, they came prepared with all sorts of background material that they had gathered-services and prayers recently written and also prayers and blessings which are ancient.
While we may think that same-sex marriage is new to the 21st century, the fact is that there exists a wide variety of official Christian services for the "blessing of same sex unions" dating back to the 5th and 6th century, coming out of the Byzantine church as well as the church of Western Europe.
As we sat down together to prepare the liturgy, my friends showed me one particular prayer from a 12th century Vatican (yes, I said Vatican) blessing of same-sex unions. The prayer bowled me over with its tender beauty:
O Lord, our God, bless and consecrate these thy servants
who love each other with a love of a soul.
Grant unto them unashamed fidelity and sincere love.
My friends told me that they especially liked this prayer because of the use of the word "unashamed." They have never been ashamed of their love for one another and now they will proclaim their soulful and unashamed love in the sight of all their family and friends - blessed by the church and recognized by the State.
My wife was in the kitchen when she heard them say this. She came into the room, tears streaming down, which of course got me going also. I can't remember a time when I saw a couple so unashamedly faithful and sincerely loving- what a great icon of being "fully human."
There are many politicians and religious leaders today who lament the legalization of same-sex marriage. They claim that this will destroy the institution of marriage and tear apart the moral fabric of society.
I'd like them to meet my friends.
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