Love Letters: Are Wedding Foot Washing Ceremonies Degrading?

get on the good foot

Looking at my rollie it’s about that time — Valentine’s Day is not far away, so you know my inbox is bursting with Love Letters aching for Soul In Stereo’s sage wisdom.

If you have questions, send ’em my way. I’ll be your cupid, minus the wings and artillery and Depends.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on Twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here’s today’s question:

I’ll be getting married in a month. My fiance is a great man whom I have nothing but respect for. He has one request about our wedding that I’m on a fence about. He wants me to wash his feet at our wedding. I love my fiance but that request just sounds so submissive. What do I do?


Allow your favorite Internet superhero to hop back in the phone booth and return to my guise of Mild-Mannered Sunday School Thespian Mr. Edward.

Time to throw on my pastoral pastels….

My bad. Wrong pastor.

Anyway, let’s provide a little context — the roots of the foot washing ceremony can be found in Bible, John 13: 1-17, to be exact. Hours before the crucifixion, Jesus physically and symbolically lowered Himself to wash the feet of all his disciples.

This was an act of “submission,” but not in the manner that makes TMH feel so uncomfortable. Jesus intended it to be a symbol of humility, not humiliation — think of it as a commitment to lifelong servitude. That’s what foot washing has come to symbolize in marriage ceremonies.

By the way, foot-washing ceremonies vary — sometimes the groom does the washing, sometimes the bride. Most of the time they wash each other.

That said, this is not a gesture you MUST partake in. Take it from your boy — in a couple of months, my wife and I are celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss.

And neither of us scrubbed any toes in April 2006.

I respect the sentiment behind foot washing but if you’re not comfortable with it, by no means should you be forced into participating. While the practice has firm religious roots, unless Dr. Shoals has an 11th commandment floating around I’ve never known it to be a religious requirement. It’s more of an optional custom.

As always with these things, don’t just talk to me, talk to your fiance.  Express your concerns — trust me, if you’re about to be married, you might as well embrace this “communication” thing. It comes in handy, playa.

If this is something your fiance feels strongly about, maybe you can compromise and do the dual washing ceremony. Regardless, footwashing isn’t something to get hung up on. The Bible only gives us three main directives anyway — spread the Word, partake in communion and remember the resurrection. Toe jam ain’t on that list.

Since I’ve already opened the doors of the church, I’ll let one more question in. It’s from our girl KJ:

I’ve been told that I’m too independent and that’s a turn off to men because they like to feel needed. What’s your take on this?


What kind of needy brothers are you dating? The only thing I NEED to do is stay black.

Nah, let me add to that — what I NEED is a woman who is loving, faithful, driven and selfless. It’s really just that simple. Independence technically isn’t a bad thing but can be misconstrued. Sometimes it’s misinterpreted as being distant, other times it’s used as an excuse to wander from responsibility.

Regardless, I don’t want a woman to NEED me. I want a woman to JOIN me in creating a beautiful union. That shouldn’t be a problem for an independent individual in love.


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