I’m having a meaningful wedding

I can’t really be called a "traditionalist," as I tend to not buy the argument that we ought to leave things the way they are since "that’s how they’ve always been."

At the same time, I do value meaningful cultural ceremonies. Ceremonies permeate our culture, from before birth (baby showers) to after death (with funerals). Logically they make little sense, but we are human, and these ceremonies retain some of our humanity.

And if we do it right, we can make sure our ceremonies keep the human in secular humanism.

I fought for convocation changes at the UofA not just because I didn’t want my alma mater to assume all graduates were Christian, but because I wanted to cross the stage and have it be meaningful. Were my degree have come with the charge to use it "for the glory of God," it would have been trivialized in my view. That phrase is ignorant of my, and other atheists and secular theists, existence among the graduates. With the changed wording, I was able to perform the ceremonial stage crossing with my peers and properly brought my degree to a conclusion. It became a meaningful ceremony instead of a ritual where we just nod our heads and go through the motions.

Similarly, I valued the idea of the Iron Ring Obligation Ceremony, representing the obligation that engineers take to perform to their utmost for the good of humanity. Unfortunately, after all the talk of honesty and integrity, the obligation adds that one must sign "God helping me." It would have betrayed the very reasons for me to sign their pledge, so I had to walk away – although I do await word of a meeting they were supposed to be having this month where this issue may be discussed. Were I allowed to pledge “On my honour” instead the obligation would then be meaningful.

So it is along these lines that brings me to the latest chapter of my life: I’m engaged to be married.

I did buy the ring, and did the down-on-one-knee classic proposal, but wouldn’t have been offended if she had beaten me to the question and asked me instead. Nevertheless, I don’t have a mangagement ring, slightly more out of economics than any devotion to the cultural traditions.

So now my secular humanist bride-to-be and I shall embark on planning our own ceremony to cement our promise to each other. Such a ceremony would have as much meaning to us in a church as a Christian marriage in a Mosque or a Mormon marriage in a Buddhist Temple. Further, our ceremony won’t be "in the eyes of God," but in front of those we do believe in and care about – our closest friends and family. Our goal is not to attack religion in marriage, but to celebrate our commitment to one another.

Ceremony still has a great deal of value to humanity – and it likely always will – and I don’t seek to destroy it, but merely make sure that it remains meaningful for those who are partaking in the activities.

4 thoughts on “I’m having a meaningful wedding”

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