By Aimee Simpierre
It’s an interesting time for me, a Christian lesbian and a married New Yorker, to be preparing for my ordination. I have been serving in ministry at The Potter’s House Church of the Living God in Brooklyn for many years now – singing, leading praise and worship, playing the organ, directing the choir, maintaining the website and more recently, teaching bible study and preaching. It may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re doing what you love. What I have yet to do is conduct a wedding ceremony. But it looks like that may be a prominent part of my job description since gay/same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York at just about the time when my ordination is about to become official.
Third marriage for “charm”
I grew up in a church where women were rarely allowed to set foot on the pulpit, let alone preach. We wore long skirts, long hair, no makeup, no pants and no open-toed shoes. I had no idea I was a lesbian then. I had no idea I had any kind of sexual identity then because pre-marital sex was a one-way ticket to hell. So as a young girl and a virgin, sex was an ever-lurking evil monster wielding a weapon of unbridled passion capable of corrupting and killing all hope of divine favor with one momentary thrill. So I avoided it like the plague. And I found it quite easy to do so since my latent lesbianism made it fairly easy for me to find men’s advances displeasing. Much older men proposed (they thought I was 30 when I was 15 – that’s what long skirts and no makeup will do for you). But I was determined to play by the rules. So I waited for that “special man” to arrive for whom I would cook, clean and bear a basketball team worth of kids.
Well, eventually I did marry. To a woman. I was 18 when I met her sixteen years ago. We were the last two women in a lesbian club that I’d snuck into in order to explore my potential for “unnatural affections.” I’d already left the church at that point but I hadn’t left my God. For some reason, despite all of my supposed “unholy efforts,” the same God that spoke through me in tongues of angels, eased all my teenage angst and held me “pre coming out,” continued to do all those things “post coming out.” So I followed my God and my heart and married the woman who is now my partner in ministry and life. We married first in my church, then again in 2010 in DC so we could take pictures outside the White House brandishing our certificate and making the case for federally legalized same sex marriage. Will we marry a third time in New York now that it’s legal in our home state? Don’t know yet. But if I can get another ring (or other shiny charm) out of the deal, chances are I’ll be making sure it happens.
In the meanwhile there are other same-sex marriages to be performed and other duties to be carried out. Into a culture that is alternately jaded with the concept of God, frustrated with the Christian faith’s inability to live up to its own ideals or disgusted with the judgmental attitudes of the faith’s adherents, step I to do the work of a servant. Claiming to be called by God and to possess gifts that will undoubtedly help one make sense of one’s life and the role of God in it, I take up a mantle passed down for over 2,000 years. As a minister “coming of age” in the time of state-legalized gay marriage, I am grateful for the work of open-and-affirming clergy who’ve gone before me and made this victory possible. Still I hope that one day I won’t be looked upon as a “lesbian minister” who can perform “gay marriages.” I pray I’ll just be a child of God qualified to help solemnize that special moment when two become one and life, as a result, becomes all the more rich.
But until then, one of the most important things I can do to help make our same-sex marriages all the more valid is to help make sure our marriages last. My biggest fear is that the rush to church and city hall will be all too quickly followed by the rush to the divorce courts. So many conservatives expressed fear that our marriages would somehow destroy the sanctity of the ceremony. My hope is that every vow entered into by LGBT couples in New York will put another nail in the coffin of that myth. I want our marriages to be examples of love and commitment – thoughtful covenants between mortals and the divine. Because God knows, “it is not good for man to be alone.”
Playing “Dr. Phil”
So, suffer this newly minted minister who married the same person twice and has remained married to her for over a decade to offer a few quick tips to those about to take the same-sex marriage plunge:
Marriage should not be entered into until you are certain you can live with all the characteristics about your partner that you know you cannot change. If you can’t learn to love those things – you aren’t loving the whole person.
Make sure you and your partner aren’t tripping over baggage from your past. Consult your faith leaders and get counseling.
Don’t look for someone to love you if you have not yet learned to love yourself – you just may attract an abuser.
Make sure you both understand what you want out of the relationship and where you want it to go. If you want five kids and your partner wants none – that’s gonna be a big deal!
Finally, you deserve the best, and the best is out there. Don’t settle for less.
Commitment is something our God takes very seriously. He never left me, even when I switched from long skirts to pants and from the pews to pulpit ministry. When you give your life to Christ, you become engaged to Him in a relationship that lasts for eternity. God doesn’t expect His children to marry themselves off to someone on a whim and then leave them. The twain become “one flesh.” “What God has joined together let no man put asunder.” The world is watching – so let’s do it right!
Aimee Maude Simpierre is the founder of NuWine Press, The all-Iinclusive and LGBT-affirming voice of independent Christian publishing. and editor of RAW: A Poetic Journey – Finding a Way from Conflict to Revelation. Join us as we seek to hear ALL that God is saying by listening to EVERY voice He uses!