“No more Facebook until wedding season is over,” sighed a friend of mine on Twitter today. She was giving voice to the exhaustion not a few single people I know feel with the constant stream of updates about jubilantly married friends, exes, forgotten acquaintances. Perhaps such a sentiment seems grinchlike, but the grinches have a point.
Celebrating a friend’s wedding involves not just wild dancing followed by days of willy-nilly facebook likes but also, for most of us, a fresh recognition of the great good of marriage itself. For those who have been waiting some time for that good, or have given up that good for another one, or have recognized that by reason of their same-sex attraction, they’ll never enjoy itthat recognition can be a painful one.
At the wedding I attended this weekend there was a rare but fitting acknowledgment of these people, an insistence that marriage is something that they contribute to, something they can benefit from. During the ceremony, the congregation was led in the following prayer written by the bride and groom:
For those suffering from broken hearts and homes, from loneliness or the dread of it; and for all called to the generosity of the single or celibate; that they might inspire [name of bride and groom] by their conformity to Christ, and always find in them fiercely devoted friends, and in their house a second home.
The groom was the primary author of the recent book What Is Marriage? Surely this prayer offers part of the answer. The married are not to forget the unmarried or pity them but instead call on them for help and offer help in turn.
For me, this prayer is a reminder that the movement for gay marriage is absolutely right to demand that the institution be made more inclusive. Where it goes wrong is in supposing that the way to do this is for everyone to get married, rather than for every marriage to be made a place of welcome even for those who are not or cannot be married. Neither gay marriage, nor polyamorous marriage, nor any other proposal can succeed in including everyone. We need more than one form of solidarity.
Which is why I have my own proposal to make: Every wedding should include a prayer for singles. The prayer above could provide a model, but there are no doubt many ways to ask for help as we allmarried and unmarriedencourage each other and hold each other to account in this our earthly journey.