We Did: Stories of United Methodists living Biblical Obedience and marriage equality

As I reflect on the stories that have already been shared, and the distressing news that Tom Ogletree is being brought to trial for officiating at his son’s wedding, I would like to add my testimony regarding the marriage service I conducted between two women. Unlike the other stories, I cannot share their names, lest they lose their jobs or worse, their vocations.  I will simply call them Mary Smith and Jane Doe, to protect their loving story.

Mary and Jane, two Christian women, one of whom is a clergywoman, came before me a year ago, asking me to officiate at their marriage ceremony. They wanted to pledge their lives and their love to each other, to make a public witness that their love for each other called them to something deeper than just being ‘roommates.’ These women are not members of my congregation. But they are friends in the spirit and in my life. I met with Mary and Jane, as I would with any couple preparing for marriage, as they shared with me the stories of their journey to this moment. Each had a deep conviction of the presence of Christ in her life; each had come through growth times in previous relationships to get to this point of recognizing in the other the gift of a partner who would help her grow spiritually, emotionally, intellectually; and together, they were ready be called by each other to accountability in healthy living.

Those who know me will realize that I am not unfamiliar with the Book of Discipline, and that I know that I live and work under its authority. Having wrestled with the competing statements in the Discipline, I have come to believe that it does not reflect the Scripture that it was intended to serve.  Therefore, in my heart and mind, there was nothing that should stop me from providing the pastoral care that, in my ordination vows, I was called to provide to all people, without regard to any human limitation.

When the day arrived, Mary and Jane stood before me, beaming their love, butterflies in their stomachs (as all brides experience), slightly tongue-tied, and eager to begin this new phase of their life together. Their friends were gathered around them in their home, and we all joined together in the creative rituals which symbolized their new union.

As I recited the vows and prayers that I wrote for their ceremony, the truth and righteousness of blessing this marriage was obvious to me:

Mary/Jane, do you take Jane/Mary to be your partner for life, to live together in holy marriage?  Will you show your love to her in tangible ways, comfort her when her soul is downcast, bring her honor by your words and your deeds, and keep her as your confidant and constant companion, in times of wellness and in times of illness, and choosing to be faithful to her, refrain from all other relationships that would threaten your unity, throughout the rest of your natural life?

God of all time, beautiful in your diversity and wonderful in your creativity:  you are the One Spirit linking all souls on earth and in heaven.  You have given us a sense of timelessness – when love causes breath to pause and moments to suspend; yet you have also made us aware of the passing of days and years.  You have implanted within our souls the longing to love and to be loved.  You have given us bodies to embrace our beloved, and spirits to know that inescapable joy which comes at the very sight of the one who is our true mate.  We rejoice that you revel with us at that perfect glee and giddiness of love’s first calling, and dwell with us in the harmony of souls long-united in love’s sweet song.  In this moment of holy covenant, we seek your blessing and your presence.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

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We Did is a project of Methodists in New Directions (MIND) dedicated to making visible our ministries to LGBTQ people and encouraging others in the UMC to transcend the institutional requirement to discriminate and make their ministries visible, too. It is part of the Biblical Obedience movement sweeping across the United Methodist Church. You can read all the We Did stories here.  We invite you to submit your own story to We Did. 

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