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Gay Marriage and Religion: What Marriage Means to Me

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Recently married in the state of Connecticut, my partner and I spent hours with family, friends, clergy, and liturgical experts crafting a service that would express out commitment to one another and also be a holyspace of joy and celebration. We combined our cultures -- Black and White -- in a service of welcome to those gathered to the world we are committed to cherishing and growing as a space of Spirit and justice wrapped in love and passion. Our service, without our thinking about it consciously, did not look like a traditional wedding service. Yes, we had some of the traditional elements, but we wanted to invite those gathered into our understanding of the sacred, our values, our hopes, our sense of how justice can and must have loving and celebratory leaning. And although both of us were surprised, to varying extents, to find that the relationship we seek to acknowledge we are building is that of marriage, we could find no other name for it so we have set out to live into our vows and vision for ourselves. We are both clear that we do not to conform to the standard text of marriage, but we want to find ways to breath new air and life into what it means to be married not only by the state, but even more so in the eyes of the Holy Spirit; to be committed for a life time; and to grow old and be those kind of old ladies that we so admired when we were children -- truth tellers, wise, independent, but fiercely engaged in the communities they were a part of.

Folks approach gay marriage from a variety of perspectives -- moral, theological, social, political. As a Christian social ethicist with womanist leanings, I am clear that the Bible says precious little about same sex relationships, though it appears to have a bit more to say about acts but even that is muddled. I am also clear that although God judges our acts, God does so out of love and mercy and would much rather spend holy time applauding our attempts at humanity than smiting our behavior. The acceptance of gay marriage (even gays who do not believe in marriage) was evident at our ceremony -- both of our families, a variety of racial ethnic groups and nationalities, differing sexualities, same sex couples who are married -- some with children, others not, children, traditional nuclear families, the list went on and on. The sanctuary and the dinner and dancing that followed was one of joy and celebration -- not so much for us as a same-sex couple, but because of our love for one another and trying to share that with others. Politically, it is disheartening to see out love, care, compassion and commitment to one another be made into a political football by the right and the left. The bottom line for me is not "gay marriage" but "marriage." When folks, whoever they may be, find that the only word that expresses the commitment they make to one another is marriage -- we should celebrate this and give them all the support we can for it is no small thing to live out vows that are marked by "forever."

Yes, there is so much more to it when two people make a life long commitment to love each other and stand by one another. It takes attention, care, respect, and a willingness to make mistakes and atone for them. As we have, many times now, remembered parts of our wedding ceremony and the days before it as family gathered around us and the days after it as family and friends began to leave; one of the many emotions I carry with me about my marriage ceremony and the marriage we arebuilding as two people who are also lesbians in a mixed race couple is joy. Joy filled the sanctuary, the space of dinner and dancing, our home we are building together, and it now fills the dailyness of our lives.