Dearly beloved. We are gathered here upon this day, in friendship and in joy, in togetherness and in warmth, to celebrate and honor the marriage of Robert Lecnik and Peter McCluskey. If any person assigns a probability greater than fifty percent that this marriage will fail, let them bet now, or forever hold their peace.
There is a theory of the ancient Greeks, recorded in Plato's Symposium, and put into the mouth of the comic playwright Aristophanes, that humans once had four legs and four arms and two faces, before the gods split us in two. Being ancient Greeks, they were more sensible about such things, and specified explicitly that some of these combined beings were male, and some female, and some were both, the Androgynes. All, being split, forever wandered the Earth in search of their other half. Love is born into every human being, says Plato's dialogue; it calls back the halves of our original nature together, it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature. His words, not mine.
It was a less cruel theory in the days when the world looked smaller, as it must have from inside ancient Athens, a city of around 3.5 square kilometers. In a world of seven billion people, your chance of finding your one true soulmate, the other half of your soul, is almost nil. Thankfully, in modern times we also know that this ancient Greek theory, like so many other theories of the ancient Greeks, is false. One hundred percent completely wrong. There is not only one person in all the world destined to us. It might be that relatively few people will match us, and we may spend decades searching for someone who fits us well enough, but it's not literally one in seven billion.
Indeed, given that the Greek theory is wrong, that there are no born and destined soulmates, how could you find someone who is significantly better for you than literally billions of other people? And the answer is that you can't. There is no Internet dating service which could solve that problem because in a field of billions, the second-best person you can find probably is only very slightly worse for you than the very best person.
And yet just because we have no destined other half, and we can't find someone who's significantly better for us than anyone else, does not mean that we cannot have someone who is better than anyone else would be by a significant margin. If someone fits you well enough, and then you invest effort on top of that, learning each other and adapting to each other, it's possible you could become better for each other than anyone else who could be swapped into your place. Although that particular objective is probably being competitive in the wrong direction. It's not as if your relationship is meaningless if someone somewhere on the planet would be better, especially since you'll never find them and they're probably already taken. My point is that the theory of destiny - that there is only one soulmate already made and forged, and once you find them they are perfect and there can never be anyone better - all that describes an easy way, an effortless way, a painless way. Which is probably why it made a good story two point four thousand years ago. The same reason why more people would rather hear about lottery tickets than invest - hit the right one in a hundred million chance and never have to work at it.
Marriage is an act which has many different meanings. I would say that there are as many different meanings as there are marriages but that would be complete hyperbole, since the sheer number of marriages and the existence of significant statistical clustering strongly implies that a genuinely new meaning to marriage is extremely rare. Nobody knows the true meaning of Robert and Peter's marriage except Robert and Peter, and even if I knew that meaning it wouldn't be my place to say it. But one meaning at least which I have seen in Robert and Peter is that of two people who fit the general population less well than usual, and a long search, and finally finding someone where they could begin. When you have searched for long enough, finding that person who fits you, not perfectly, but at all, takes on the meaning of being on an alien planet and finally finding another member of your species. It takes on the meaning that was spoken of, though only imperfectly, by the false concept of the soulmate; the meaning of finding the other at last.
This day Robert and Peter have chosen to bind their lives together. It is not the beginning for them, but it is a beginning, a milestone along the way of the beginning. We are gathered here to bear them this witness, to celebrate the finding, to honor it as a new thing known to us, in togetherness and in warmth, in friendship and in joy. Let what is begun here be done brightly and rightly, openly and gladly, honestly and boldly, on the first day.
Robert and Peter, do you enter this agreement, and do you vow to undertake this endeavor freely, with your whole hearts, and without reservation?
Do you vow that you will together create and maintain your shared picture of the world, sharing your discoveries and insights, hiding nothing that the other would wish to know?
Do you vow to reveal all your concerns about your relationship - as they appear to you - despite all embarrassment and fear; so that if the other stays silent you may trust that there is nothing to be said?
Do you vow to share your dreams, your goals, your needs, your desires, and your aspirations, and work toward them together?
Do you vow to recognize and honor all the complexity and parts of the other, to support their growth and be supported, that you may wield your love to become your best potential selves?
With what will you embody and symbolize these promises?
Robert (puts ring on Peter's finger)
Peter (puts ring on Robert's finger)
Do you, Robert, take Peter as your husband, to be your friend, your partner, your love, to have and to hold, to protect and to cherish, to trust and respect, in wealth or poverty, in sickness or in health, through good times and bad, through times of failure and times of success, until you no longer draw breath, while your love holds?
Do you, Peter, take Robert as your husband, to be your friend, your partner, your love, to have and to hold, to protect and to cherish, to trust and respect, in wealth or poverty, in sickness or in health, through good times and bad, through times of failure and times of success, until you no longer draw breath, while your love holds?
From this day forward, Robert Lecnik and Peter McCluskey, you are now husband and husband.