Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lawfully Wedded Husbands

Yesterday morning, my husband and I drove down to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Courthouse where Judge Terry A. Bork, a friend of ours from church, legally married us. We had done the big wedding seven years ago, so we just wanted this to be a small dignified ceremony. (My parents were married in a judge's chambers, with just two couples as witness, so we were reflecting my family history.) It turned out perfectly. Terry put a lot of thought into the ceremony, to set it in the appropriate context with respect to our previous ceremony, and also to honor our well-loved late pastor Mitch Henson and his role in that. I also appreciated his comments on the responsibilities of marriage being not only to each other, but connecting us to those around us. As we gathered in the judge's chambers with our witnesses, Terry began the ceremony:

Seven years ago Tom and George made a commitment to each other. Although they have lived and honored that commitment, and although their friends and loved ones recognized and celebrated that commitment, it was made at a time when neither their church nor their state would recognize or sanction it.

A courageous pastor, Dr. Mitchell Henson, attended that ceremony that day, despite having received criticism for agreeing to do so, and at risk to his standing within his denomination. He did not perform a marriage that day, but he spoke movingly about--as he called it--"a radical gospel of acceptance of all." Quoting Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Matthew he read, "I saw to you whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven…. For where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them."

He went on to state: "Christianity has traditionally lagged behind secular society in accepting. It's a sad fact that those who call themselves followers of the radical Christ often are self-serving and judgmental."

In actuality, it may be more accurate to say that many churches and the laws of the State of California have lagged behind forward-thinking Pastors, such as Mitch Henson.

The California Supreme Court this year, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice Ronald George, interpreted our State's Constitution to include a personal, fundamental right to marry the person of one's choice. The Court determined that this decision is a fundamental aspect of personal autonomy and individual identity.

I am proud, as a Judge of the Superior Court of California -- sworn to uphold the California Constitution -- to perform this marriage ceremony for you today.
He continued with a thoughtful traditional ceremony:

The purpose of our gathering together this morning, in the presence of these witnesses, is to join Thomas Rodrick Chatt and George Donald Scheideman III in matrimony. The act of uniting in matrimony is one of the oldest, most sacred and dearest ceremonies known to man.

Marriage is an honorable estate, therefore is not to be entered into lightly or unadvisedly, but discreetly, soberly, reverently, and with true love.

Remember that love and loyalty are the foundation on which a relationship and a home are built. If the solemn vows which you are about to accept are kept, and if you steadfastly endeavor to lead honorable and worthwhile lives, the home that you have established will abide in peace, and the marriage will be lasting.

Marriage symbolizes the intimate sharing of two lives, yet this sharing should enhance -- not diminish, the individuality of each partner.

As you enter into this marriage you have all the right to demand and expact all of the happiness that any two people can find in this life. But allof your days will not be filled with sunshine and all of your paths will not be smooth, for that is not the way of life. You must also remember that in marriage you carry important responsibilities to each other, and to the world around you. Happiness includes demonstrating your love and commitment by meeting obligations to those whose lives are touched by yours.

No other human ties are more tender, nor vows more sacred that those which you are now about to assume.

Please join hands and face one another.

Will you George Donald Scheideman, III take Thomas Rodrick Chatt to be your husband, to love, honor, and cherish him, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in adversity, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him so long as you both shall live? [I do.]

Will you Thomas Rodrick Chatt take George Donald Scheideman, III to be your spouse, to love, honor, and cherish him, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in adversity, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him so long as you both shall live? [I do.]

May these two people keep this covenant which they have made. May they be a blessing and a comfort to each other, sharers of each other's joys, consolers in each other's sorrows, helpers to each other in all the vicissitudes of life. May they encourage each other in whatever they set out to achieve. May they, trusting each other, trust life and not be afraid. Yet may they not only accept and give affection between themselves, but also together have affection and consideration for others.

For as much as George Donald Scheideman, III and Thomas Rodrick Chatt have consented together in wedlock and have witnessed the same before these witnesses, and thereto have pledged their troth each to the other and have declared the same by joining hands, and by the authority vested in me as a Judge of the Superior Court of the State of California, I now pronounce you lawfully wedded husbands.

You have now entered upon life's most rewarding endeavor. May the blessings of Almighty God be with you. I am pleased to pronounce the commencement of your marriage.
My lawfully wedded husband and I then kissed.

1 comment:

KipEsquire said...

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story. =)