I love weddings. I love working with people as they prepare for their life as a married couple. I love helping them choose the readings that will speak God’s Good News to them on their wedding day. I love witnessing their vows and speaking God’s blessing over them. I love watching the faces of those in attendance as they enter into the joy and the hope of their dear friends, seeing God’s love and faithfulness revealed in their union. I do believe that marriage is a gift from God, a vocation into which some are called as a ministry to God’s people and for their own well-being.
And God calls who God calls.
As church, we are most accustomed to thinking of issues of vocation and call in terms of ordained ministry. While this is a shortcoming on our part, doing a grave disservice to the many ways of life to which God calls people, at least we have some experience with controversial discernments. We still bear the scars from the fights over the ordination of women and LGBTQ persons. But that experience has taught us that God calls all sorts of people and it is not our place to reject entire categories of God’s children from entire fields of ministry. Instead, we have a responsibility to engage individuals in their work of discernment-asking the questions to help them uncover how and why they are called to a particular life and ensuring that they are prepared for what answering such a call might mean. Sometimes, we have the difficult responsibility of telling people we don’t hear what they hear. But that isn’t the same thing as refusing to believe God could possibly call someone like them.
God calls who God calls.
What would happen if we started thinking about marriage and our responsibility to those considering marriage in this way?
Perhaps we would find ourselves having to tell some people that we don’t hear God calling them to marriage at this time. Perhaps we would be better able to recognize and honour God’s call in the lives of people who are single or in unmarried partnerships of various kinds. Perhaps we would find new ways of thinking about divorce. And perhaps we would be able to see past the sex or gender identities of people in order to consider the actual nature of their relationships to which they are called.
If we have learned anything from the courageous honesty of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, it is that things are never simply this or that. Human identity, human sexuality, human relationships are multi-faceted and complicated. God has created a wonderful diversity of people and calls us into a wonderful diversity of ways of living. It is not for the church to limit what God may do, but rather to help each of us better hear and more faithfully respond so that we may, together, more fully reveal the Good News of Christ for all of God’s people.