Chapter 22 » 22.46

Marriage and steadfast commitment

Celebration of commitment

My partner and I decided we could not legally marry but were being led instead to have a ‘celebration of commitment’. We came to this decision after a great deal of thought, and testing by family, (F)friends and our meeting. What seemed essential to us was the public witnessing of a commitment made before God by one’s worshipping community who then also took a responsibility to uphold it. The form our relationship took had to be true to our inner conviction about equality, justice, honesty, openness and love. We could not participate in something that explicitly placed us above others in a hierarchy of worth. Neither could we ignore the valid criticisms raised by both homosexual people and the women’s movement about the nature of the legal and conventional institution of marriage in our society.

We ended up having a wonderful ‘celebration of commitment’. There was a warmth of overt, public support and acceptance at the meeting for worship for what we were doing and all its implications, not only for homosexual Friends but also in affirming the value of mutual spiritual ties in the face of devaluing legally binding ones. A number of (F)friends have told us how, for the first time in their lives, they had been made to feel truly included in such an event. For some it has made a huge difference in their relationship with their meeting in general.

We exchanged promises in the following words: ‘I Alison/Mark choose to weave the strands of my life with those of yours, Mark/Alison, as a lifelong companion and a faithful lover. I am passionately committed to you, to us, and to our growth in God. I will dance with you, cry with you, laugh with you and pray with you. I know this won’t be always easy but, with God’s help, I will celebrate with you this gift that we have been given. Friends, I make this declaration before you and before God.’

Alison Davis and Mark Hughes, 1994

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