Probably one of the best known scenes in The Princess Bride begins with the line “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday.”
Twenty-seven years ago this month, my spouse and I were married in Bond Chapel at the University of Chicago. We wrote our own ceremony, and had a lot of friends participate, and a lot of family. The oldest person in attendance was my grandmother, in her mid ’80s. It was August, it was warm, and it was good. And four children, four cities, and multiple careers later, we’re still together.
Two days ago, my oldest son and the love of his life were married in the United Methodist Church of Mount Vernon, Iowa. Their minister, from Norman, Oklahoma, wrote the ceremony, and they had lots of friends participate, and a lot of family. The oldest persons in attendance were her maternal grandparents, and his maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents, all in their ’80s and above. The youngest were his nieces, one of whom was the flower girl. It was August, it was warm, and it was good.
Weddings are remarkable things. Through the emotion of love–an emotion that we celebrate in song and film, but often consider weaker than anger or rage–they knit families together in amazing ways. They bwing us togeder not just today, but for the rest of our lives.
My son and daughter in law are a node in the social network, a knot in the fabric of life:
Yes, one of the functions of marriage is to create a “chain of title” for children, and I wouldn’t mind, at some point, having grandchildren through these two (I have excessively beautiful grandchildren–here’s the flower girl trying on her dress for the first time):
But if this couple never has children, that’s OK. That wouldn’t mean they love each other less, or make me love them less. Because marriage is about far more than chain of title. As Shakespeare knew (see Romeo and Juliet), marriage also knits families together horizontally. I am now related to people I had never met before this week. And they are related to people. And so on, and so forth.
You think friending people on Facebook is cool? This is the real thing.
And this is what marriage is about; it knits us all together. This is why it’s important that marriage be available to all.
This is what it means to be part of the human family.
This is what it means to be family.