Wednesday, January 23, 2002

So the boss asked me last weekend at dinner, "Why did you get married by a priest?"

Which is an interesting question. The husband, who was raised in a cult that masquerades as a scary quasi-Christian denomination, is very down on organized religion of any sort.

Me, I was raised by deeply religious parents who are nonetheless probably further to the left than I am on the political spectrum. Which isn't to say they're Marxists, but they're pretty damned liberal for Americans. My parents also allowed my brothers and sister and I a certain amount of dissent: while we all had to go to communicants' class, for example, none of us caved in and actually joined the church. Despite this personal ambivalence, the right kind of church feels pretty comfortable to me - one light on the theology, heavy on the spiritualism and strict about having only top-notch music. In fact, not too many churches fit the bill. And yet, I kind of like church and I would even consider myself a non-Jew for Jesus... he was a good guy but I wouldn't say he was any more divine than the rest of us, even if he did have some good ideas and a great marketing machine.

So, I got married by a priest because I wanted my marriage to not just be about the legalities of being a couple - and I'm not knocking them, the legalities are necessary - but I wanted the marriage to be about declaring one's love publicly in a profound ritual that has lasted over time because the words are fraught with meaning and they are beautiful, patriarchy or no patriarchy. I have no doubt that for a homosexualist like myself, such a marriage ceremony also takes on fresh meaning when it occurs between two men.

And so, in front of 130 people, we got married by a priest who oversaw the ritual and despite having known us for only a short time, gave it great depth and feeling, setting the tone for the wedding itself, and for the marriage. Everyone seemed drunk with joy, and I don't think it was merely my own happiness.

As for the husband, well, he wanted to get married by a priest simply to show respect to my parents. But he's never regretted it, not ever.

The Swedish word for the day is, of course, äktenskap. It means marriage.

- by Francis S.

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