From the Rectory: In the summer months it is lovely that we get a steady number of weddings, marriage blessings and wedding anniversaries at St Mary’s. It is a deeply solemn moment when one person says to another “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” No wonder there are tears close to the surface in some and tears welling up in others when these words are spoken. I struggle myself sometimes!
It is also striking that many still choose to get married even though there is much less social pressure to do so than there used to be. And even more striking is that gays and lesbians feel so deeply about it that they too want to have the opportunity to get married open to them as well (and they can now, but not as yet in the Church of England). I am genuinely delighted by this affirmation of marriage and its importance in our lives. I think it is right.
A couple I was preparing for marriage had been together for some years; they’d bought a house together; they’d got children and now in their 40s they were sitting down with me to plan their wedding. At one point I asked what had prompted them to get married now when in all other respects they were a married couple. The man replied “I thought it was about time I grew up!”
I have immense respect for that answer; it shows an awareness of the significance of marriage. Through it we learn about a type of love that perseveres in difficulties, which puts the others’ interests first, which knows the importance of forgiveness all summed up in the marriage vows – and that requires us to grow up and be willing to enter into this type of relationship that we don’t walk away from lightly.
A few years ago I was celebrating a wedding and I kept on getting the man’s name wrong! His name was Lewis and for some reason I kept calling him Lucy! In frustration I apologised publicly and said “I’m sure it’ll happen one day that I’ll be marrying two women but that’s not what’s happening today!” It was a spontaneous, off the cuff remark to release the tension of my getting his name wrong; but I reflected afterwards on what I had said.
At present as a vicar I cannot marry gays and lesbians and the Church of England is currently discussing and reflecting on this issue. But in that unguarded, unscripted moment I became aware of what I thought on the subject; and the more that I have thought about it the more I have become sure that that is what I think. Gays and lesbians will be able to get married in the Church of England, and I think that will be OK.
I must go now. We have three weddings today at St Mary’s!