Demystifying Your Wedding Ceremony: Consent

I do!

It’s a part of every wedding. I mean, the line is virtually a wedding gimmick. More than a few wedding industry types have incorporated “I do!” into their business names, hashtags, blogs, speeches, and posts.

But wait a second: what do you do? I mean, in order to get to “I do” as a response, you must have a question.

This question is actually one of the few things required by me as a professional minister marrying couples.  It’s a question required (in some form) in every State in the United States of America . . . but not every country in the world. It is not, as one might initially think, about being in love. Kinda weird when you think about it. But, it is just as important. It’s just as weighty. What’s the question?

Do you consent? Do you understand and agree to enter this binding, intimate agreement with the other person standing before you?

Now, I could go on for pages covering the history of consent in marriage. I could write a dissertation or two, and some people have (google on, my loyal readers). I could cover everything from empires to geography, east versus west, culture, sexuality and gender, power and even love in its various forms around the question of consent. But this is a blog, so I am going to get to the point. Children cannot consent. Women historically have been denied consent. You cannot marry your horse. Many marriages have happened without consent. Lack of consent is grounds for calling a marriage null. So yes, consent is a big deal.

Now, lest we feel all heavy after pondering consent, here’s the punchline from those of us well along our path of marriage: the answer should probably be no. No way did I understand the gravity of my decision.  No possible way I could have understood what would lie in front of us, or how deep and intimate the marriage space could go. No way no how did we even begin to “get” marriage. So, even as I laugh about the fact that we both said “I do” and thought we did — we didn’t. But we still do. And lots and lots of us still do. And maybe in another 25 years we will look back at now and laugh all over again at the absurdity of thinking we finally did — but still really didn’t.

So, I often wonder about how to better write a question of consent. I have some ideas. Do you? How would you like to see the question asked?

Next week: OH BOY HOWDY!  It’s the best part ever:  vows!!!!