If It Walks Like a Duck…
A few weeks ago I drove across the state to attend my nephew’s wedding. The lovely service on Saturday began with the familiar description of what God intends in the institution of marriage. I smiled as the final scene in the BBC production of “Pride and Prejudice” came to mind, the minister outlining God’s purposes for these wedding vows: mutual joy, help and comfort in both prosperity and adversity, and procreation.
If it shows my upbringing that Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley are primary images of marriage for me, then it is a sign of what I have learned in life that other couples — like Nancy and Brenda, John and George — have proven to me that these purposes can also be fulfilled by two men or two women.
It has always been the case that the fruits of mutual love and commitment — joy, help and comfort — can be shared by two men or two women. I saw the same glow in Nancy and Brenda’s faces on their wedding day as I did in the faces of my nephew and his bride.
And today, modern medicine had made procreation possible for same-sex couples as well. This deep understanding of human fertility given by God in our time solidifies the truth that two men or two women can fulfill all of God’s intentions for the institution of marriage.
The minister presiding at my nephew’s ceremony recognized this in his thoughtful reflection before the wedding vows. As he emphasized the sacrifice required by marriage, he started by pointing out the series of sacrifices made by Ruth and Naomi, whose vows were the Scripture lesson (Ruth 1:16-18) in the service. This passage is second only to the hymn to love in First Corinthians 13 as the choice for a lesson from the Bible in wedding ceremonies. Sacrifice is, indeed, crucial to the success of Ruth and Naomi’s pact, of my nephew and his beloved’s vows, and of the promises made by two men or two women in their marriage ceremony.
In the end, my view on marriage including two men or two women really comes down to the maxim of common sense: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then it must be a duck. A man and a woman together is not marriage. The wedding is in the couple’s vows of love and commitment, proclaimed before family and friends and blessed in prayer, and in all the hopes and godly intentions embedded in those promises. That is the duck — and God knows it is a leap of faith for every couple attempting it.
So I wish my nephew and his spouse all happiness, as I do every married couple. And I pray for the day when every loving, committed couple willing to take that leap of faith will be recognized by family and friends, church and state as exactly what they are: a couple bound together in marriage.