I Was Sure That God Rejoiced in This Union
By Rev. Thea Crites
Our connection was through email and then phone. Two women from a state in the South where there was no possibility for a legal same-sex marriage, wanted to come north because they wanted to marry each other. They are committed United Methodists, from a warm, accepting church in an urban center. They’d always pictured their wedding to be about God blessing their union in the UMC, their spiritual home.
We set up a couple of extended phone calls to talk about this wedding and the marriage they were working toward. They entered into premarital counseling with a pastoral counselor local to them, who would then communicate with me, with their permission. Talking by phone, I got the picture! It was a picture of a passionate bond between the two, which had borne the test not only of time but of hard times. They spoke openly of their struggles and of the insights gained from them. I heard that at the end of the process, the ups and down, one thing was crystal clear: that they truly belong together, and belong together for life. Their home was a warm, loving place. They were truly family to one another.
After getting the thumbs up from the pastoral counselor, I agreed to officiate at their wedding. I was sure that God rejoiced in this union; I would not hold back because of our denomination’s small-minded prohibition against same-sex marriage. The women planned the wedding carefully to be about celebration and blessing, so some elements were consciously left out. Family who were too ambivalent to truly celebrate were not invited. It was a small ceremony in a private space, not the big, blowout crowd in a church that one of the women had pictured when she was younger and imagined her wedding.
We met in person for the first time when they came to New York, in a funky glamorous setting rented for the occasion. Selected dear friends were witnesses. The ceremony had been crafted with great creativity, with drafts of vows, careful selection of readings and readers, and Michael Jackson crooning the processional. It was an intimate and personal ceremony, a true blessing of the life-giving, unconventional union we celebrated.
This story is mainly about the loving bond of marriage between two particular gifted women and about how God blessed their bond. But these women also are glad to add their story to the witness of same-sex marriages. We all hope that soon same-sex marriages will be celebrated throughout the church along side heterosexual marriages, for the life-giving unions they are, and nothing less.
Thea Crites is a deacon in the New York Annual Conference and a pastoral psychotherapist as well as a hospital chaplain.
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.