Explaining why I performed a same gender wedding

It was many years ago when I tried to do everything right instead of simply doing the right thing, but it was only recently I learned how wrong I was. I was a recently ordained minister serving as a college chaplain. A young woman asked me to perform her wedding. She was of those wonderful women in every college. Sweet, diligent in her school work, supporting herself because her parents either couldn’t or wouldn’t. She had graduated and wanted me to bless her union with the woman she was in love with. Not a legal marriage, but the same vows of love and fidelity.

I wasn’t ready for such a request. Almost no church allowed such rites at that time. Mine had not even discussed them. I had written a paper in bible class on why I thought St. Paul would say something different about homosexuality today, but that was theoretical. I thought I didn’t know any gay people. I didn’t know the best man at my wedding was gay.

So I did what I thought I should do as a young minister. I told her no. I told her that I am only authorized to do rites and rituals according to the rules of my church. I told her good luck instead of saying The Lord bless you and keep you. And she never spoke to me again.

She sometimes contacted my wife who was a friend. She and her partner adopted a child and later had a bitter divorce, much as I had once gone through. She was disowned by her family for being different. She was not welcomed in her church or her home town. She struggled to survive in the mountains of PA in one of those towns that tourists from New York drive through to their resorts.

One night several local men decided to force her to be straight by gang raping her. Some of them were arrested and one did jail time. I think he was the one who had AIDS. The one who infected her. And now this woman who was despised, rejected, and brutalized is struggling to live.

I didn’t rape her or cast her out into the streets. But in her life she gave me one chance to bless her instead of curse her, to love her according to the vows I had taken as a servant of Christ. Instead I hid behind rules and stepped aside. My actions would not have changed her future. She would still be bereft of family, lover, child, dignity, and health. But she would have known at least one man who stood by her, who shared a moment of joy, who loved her as she was.

The best man from my wedding married his partner of sixteen years as soon as it became legal. He honored me by asking me to do the ceremony. He stood with me after my divorce and I was happy to stand with him. This time I did what is right regardless of my church’s rules. And I as I did that simple ceremony I remembered the one I had wronged.

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  • Beth Turnage  On April 22, 2015 at 6:14 am

    What a sad story. Reminds us that compassion is always the right response.

  • Matt  On September 13, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Sad story indeed. But compassion in standing for biblical truth is actually the right response, not capitulating to the culture and denying what God has clearly said. Hus wouldn’t have called this pastor a brother.

  • Eugen  On December 24, 2015 at 2:24 am

    What a sad story. What a tragic story!
    If only you had been faithful to your calling – not your church, not your tradition, not the tide of cultural sentimentality or the emotion of the situation! 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 makes it crystal clear that the greatest act of love would have been to done everything to call them (both the lady and your best man) to repentance by the Gospel, to affirm them is affirming their eternal destruction! Lead to the Kingdom of God, lead to salvation, turn from self and to Christ – simply put, with what’s at stake, to affirm someone a lifestyle that God condemns is hatred. You’d rather have earthly, passing affirmation at the cost of their souls.
    It’s much like Proverbs 13:24 says, if you ‘spare the rod’ you ‘hate your son’. Compassion is understanding their situation, and calling them to the one hope given to all men – salvation in Jesus Christ! As that passage continues in 1 Cor 6 “…such were some of you – but you were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
    The authority is the Scripture. You claim to be upholding the memory of Jan Hus, and he would be rolling over in his grave to have this attached to his memory. He saw the Scripture’s clear truth and disregarded safety, applause, honor, and even life in the face of a culture and government that opposed that revelation. You should do the same – stand against the tide of culture, be persecuted for the truth, and love your neighbor as yourself. As Christ said, if you are not willing to hate (or be called hateful, bigoted, ridiculous, medieval) for my sake, you are not worthy to be called my disciple.
    True compassion is understanding the battle the homosexual faces – it is a battle we all face, but on a different level as it goes to their very identity, and the world (even worse, the church) sounds a double-minded message. From hatred and bigotry, to affirmation and celebration. Be truly understanding, see the truth of the situation, and don’t rely on the voice of culture. What Christ says is different. He says that we all are born in sin, we are by nature contrary to God and His will, bound in rebellion and desires that destroy – yet He has by great cost, by giving Himself as our redemption. He offers not only forgiveness but a transformed life… (such were some of you). This is the only hope the world has. Each and every one of us is a sinner in desperate need of salvation. Not affirmation, but rather an offer of an entirely new life.
    Affirm this: if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation – the old things (identity of sin) have passed away, and behold all things are new! Love your homosexual friends by offering the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t hate them by affirming their sin.

    One last thing – Jan Hus saw the truths of Scripture (helped by Wycliffe’s work) directly contrary to the world he lived in, contrary to its authority (the pope, the Roman Catholic empire) contrary to its hope (a salvation that was a blend of human merits and Christ’s work). And he believed Scripture, proclaiming it all the way to the stake. Let them call him a heretic, and let them cook this goose, stand on the truth of Christ! This world is contrary to the Scripture, its authority is public consensus, and it’s hope is individual assertion.

    Be a flaming heretic, but please don’t smear the heritage and legacy of the Goose!

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