His family has been busily preparing for this day, with great anticipation. My brother and his wife are thrilled that their son will be joined together in holy matrimony with this beautiful young lady, whom they have grown to love as their own. It is a day they have prepared for since their son was born, 23 years ago. Their joy is palpable and infectious.
Two years ago, my husband and I attended the wedding of my cousin. He had also found someone with whom he wanted to create a life, and a family. And he also looked with great anticipation and joy toward the day two would become one. The difference was that he wasn't marrying the girl of his dreams. He was pledging his love and fidelity to the young man he believed to be his soulmate.
My nephew's marriage will be socially acceptable and sanctioned by his religion. My cousin's marriage was forbidden by the authorities of that same religion, and in many circles is considered grounds for shunning.
Both of these young men were raised by Mormon parents, with deep Mormon roots. Both were taught to love God, and family, and to pursue righteousness. Both grew up in families that embraced the ideals of the faith, with a mother and a father, families that embodied all the good found within Mormonism. Both had loving parents, who wanted only the best for their sons.
Both my nephew and my cousin love their mothers deeply, and both look up to their fathers. Neither wants to disappoint their parents, and they have each aimed to become adults their parents would be proud to call son. That they have each found the love of their lives, and are seeking a future devoted to their sweetheart, speaks to the ability of their parents to raise courageous young men who are unafraid to commit to love.
I was invited to my cousin's wedding, which I took to be a great honor. It meant that he knew I loved him, and accepted his choice of a mate. I took as my guest my husband, who, as a deeply religious man, was struggling to come to terms with gay marriage, and figure out how to accept this young man's decision to marry his beloved, while also believing in his heart that it was a violation of God's laws. I knew it would be a challenge for my husband, and I told him that I would only take him along if he could celebrate this union with a happy and accepting heart, not bringing prejudice and bigotry to the proceedings. My cousin and his intended deserved to have a day free of controversy amidst their guests. My husband assured me that his intention was to support this young couple with love, and to honor their commitment to one another.
The ceremony was held in the ballroom of a hotel in St. George. As we entered, we could see that it had been decked out in the traditional manner befitting such an occasion. It looked much as any wedding or reception would, except that the pictures of the happy couple were of groom and groom.
The chairs were set up facing the front, with an aisle created down the center. After greeting other family members, we found seats near the middle, close to the aisle where we could have an unobstructed view.
Music began to play, and the guests stood and turned toward the back of the room, where the grooms were beginning their processional down the aisle. Each groom was accompanied by his mother, one couple behind the other, each face marked with a tremulous smile. Tears were falling freely on the faces of those watching, and a feeling of joy and peace filled the room.
My beloved husband, the man who believed God did not sanction this union, was moved to tears as he witnessed the love and devotion between mothers and sons, and the happy anticipation of the grooms as they walked down the aisle toward their future.
As the couples reached the front of the room, each son turned and gently kissed his mother on her cheek, then joined hands in front of the officiator, as their mothers joined their families in the congregation. The officiator, in a voice trembling with emotion, greeted the young men, and invited us all to feel the great joy that had brought them together. As he looked around the room at the relatives and friends gathered to witness this ceremony, he remarked on the love that had preceded the occasion as the families had prepared feverishly for this celebration. He pointed out the considerable faith of these two families, and the strength and courage evident in their willingness to set aside religious convictions and celebrate love where it was found.
Then he said the words that will remain with me forever.
Love overcomes fear.
LOVE. OVERCOMES. FEAR.
I could feel my husband close beside me, and I felt a sob course through him as his body shuddered with emotion. I turned to look at his face, and was surprised to see tender love radiating through the tears. He was overcome in that moment, looking at these two young men standing with hands clasped, waiting to be declared husband and husband. I knew, looking at his face, that his heart had been touched. I knew that he understood love. I knew that he felt love, and that it had erased fear.
Recently, the Mormon church has come out with a policy change that declares, unequivocally, that gay marriage is a grave sin, one worthy of excommunication from the fold. This policy has been the source of much anguish for many, believers and nonbelievers alike. This policy comes from fear, not love. It separates, divides, isolates.
How different might the church be if those who espouse such a policy could be witness to the tender love shared between faithful mothers and their beloved sons on that happy occasion, and the devotion between two young men pledging to spend their lives in the pursuit of happiness for the other.
If only they could see into my husband's heart, and be touched by the love that permeated every cell, changing him from a man who loves God, to a man who loves.
If only they understood that love overcomes fear.
Love. Overcomes. Fear.