Marriage as a Gift From God


Among the agreements at the end of the Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage Final Report, this one struck me the most:

“We agree that Christian marriage is not a “right” conferred upon anyone, but a gift given to us by God to nurture and form human beings into the kind of sacrificial, self-giving love that we see in Jesus Christ.”

I couldn’t agree more! And it is clearly before our eyes that God confers this gift of marriage not only on straight couples but also on couples of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people all around us.

Last weekend, my spouse and I attended the wedding of Vikki and Deb, two wonderful women from Oklahoma. Vikki, an administrator in the Department of Commerce in the State of Oklahoma and Deb, an accountant for a national corporation, have been together since Good Friday, 1982. They had a church ceremony in 1995 and now this civil wedding in Stowe, Vermont on April 22, 2010, which marked their 28-year anniversary of faithful love.

That God blessed them by accepting their vows then as marriage is confirmed by their 28 years of supportive commitment in which they have been hard working professionals, home owners, loving daughters to their parents, faithful church members — all those things adults as married couples do together for better or for worse.

That God gave Vikki and Deb the gift of their marriage to form them “into the kind of sacrificial, self-giving love that we see in Jesus Christ” is wonderfully illustrated by their service to the church. Vikki is ordained as a Deacon and an Elder; Deb is an ordained Deacon. After serving as the worship leader for a tiny More Light Church in Oklahoma City, Vikki helped in the difficult task of leading the congregation through the discernment process that ended with the church doors closing. This could have been terribly heart wrenching for the people and the presbytery had Vikki not poured out the fruit of the Holy Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).” The people moved to other church homes on a hopeful note.

And what strikes me as closest to Jesus’ sacrificial, self-giving love in Vikki and Deb is their courageous readiness to share their married love with all of us. They do not have to do this, but they do, knowing that we need to see how God has blessed them in marriage so that we can see it in other GLBT people too. Soon, I will share the thought-provoking Conversation I had with these two wonderful women. For now, share their joy at God’s gift of marriage!


Reverend Janet

4 Responses
  • Michael J. Adee on May 4, 2010

    Janet, thank you for your reflections on Marriage as a Gift from God and sharing your joy about the wedding and marriage of Vikki Dearing and Deb Bunting in Stowe, Vermont. I join you in rejoicing and giving thanks to God for the faithfulness of these two wonderful women, their love for God and each other, and the love that filled the room the evening of their wedding.
    with gratitude,

  • Janet Edwards on May 6, 2010

    Dearest Michael,

    You are very welcome and back at you with my gratitude for including me in the wonderful pastoral leadership you offered in Vikki and Deb’s wedding. The photos available at capture well the joy of the ceremony. The picture of you and me side by side brings tears to my eyes.

    We experienced that evening the way God’s realm is a heavenly wedding banquet, didn’t we?

    Peace and love, Janet

  • Will McGarvey on May 18, 2010

    I love this angle to the conversation. We need to hear even more couples come forward to discuss their love and God’s claim on even this part of their lives. I think we faith leaders need to reclaim marriage as including every part of ministry to couples of every stripe and form: pastoral care that gets expressed in pre-marital counseling, pastoral care that is offered in times of conflict, pastoral care that is expressed in shared celebration, and the pastoral care offered at the end of the life and witness of one of the spouses. It’s time we Presbyterians reclaim our Reformed understanding of marriage and community responsibility to each and every.

  • Janet Edwards on May 18, 2010

    Dear WIll,

    Thanks, Will, for your thoughts provoked by VIkki and Deb’s marriage as I describe it here. You leave me wanting to hear more from you.

    It is rare for a couple to have as clear and rich a connection between their faith and their bond in marriage as Vikki and Deb have. Perhaps that is one thing you are getting at. Of course, most couples are not as challenged in their commitment as they have been.

    And our culture tends to see marriage as a private thing between the partners, well perhaps expanded to a family like the wide family of choice represented at Vikki and Deb’s wedding by their friends, the Best Maams. We look to marriage as a pillar of society but do not think much about how it fits together with the stages of life or other parts of our community.

    Is this the kind of thing you are getting at? I treasure your further reflection.

    Peace, Janet

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