I love the 1st Corinthians “Love is patient, love is kind…” passage, I really do, it has a classic beauty and truth that has made it a longtime wedding staple. However, for folks who feel it may be a bit cliché and want to do something different as a nod to personal or family traditions, I’d like to offer the following 5 suggestions.
1. Anything from Song of Songs
Song of Songs is a beautiful, sensual, erotic, and sometimes humorous book of poetry found in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. It’s a pretty short read if you want to flip through it and see if anything resonates with you, I’ve included excerpts of some of my personal favorite selections below, but there’s plenty more in there, including some pretty explicit stuff if you want to shock your friends and family!
SONG OF SONGS 2
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.
SONG OF SONGS 8
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned
2. Ecclesiastes Chapter 4
This may not be as poetic as some of the other verses, it’s more practical than sentimental, but may be worth incorporating somehow, maybe even just on a program or somewhere outside the ceremony if you’re not particularly religious, it could be a nice nod to your family traditions if your family is expecting to see something like this.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.”
3. Ruth Chapter 1
The book of Ruth has this deep declaration of love between two women, Ruth and Naomi, which has traditionally been interpreted as platonic, but is increasingly interpreted in Queer Theology to be read as romantic love. If you leave out the names of the women it can fit in with wedding ceremonies for folks of any gender, but may be particularly well suited to LGBTQ+ weddings. Regardless of your interpretation, it is a profound commitment and promise for life, and therefore well suited to any wedding.
But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
4. 1 Samuel 18
Another passage that could work well for a gay wedding is from 1 Samuel 18 (the traditional heading in the Bible is “Jonathan and David’s Friendship”). Again this has traditionally been interpreted as platonic, but I think it clearly works well with LGBTQ+ relationships. David says that Jonathan’s love was better than the love of women to him (2 Samuel 1:26). Bisexual men might particularly resonate as it appears these men loved both each other and women as well throughout their lives.
“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him.”
The book of Proverbs is full of clever and humorous one-liners you could easily work into a ceremony or have on a program, the ones below are just a few examples.
Where there is strife, there is pride,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
What do you think? Is there anything you’d add to this list? There are so many fun, interesting passages, you can really make it your own.