...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weddings and Clergy: Lines in the Sand

Is there a wedding that you as clergyperson will not perform?

This is not about performing same sex unions, or the UMC's ban on clergy officiating them. Neither am I talking about divorced couples who seek to be remarried after having been in a previous marriage, or even monogamous couples who are sexually active before marriage, basically a huge demographic.

What about weddings of "self-admitted and practicing" adulterers? Those who, after having had an affair that effectively ended their marriage, now seek to bless that affair via a church wedding. John the Baptizer has your answer. (Matthew 14:4) Cheating can happen between otherwise "good" church members and in some cases, on church- sponsored trips. I've been asked about performing such weddings even though I've never been asked to officiate at a same-sex union.

Be careful, some will be quick to say, we're about grace. Really? Is that the kind of grace we teach? Does God's grace require us to first do real harm to others so that we can be about forgiveness? Can't we still be full of mercy and compassion and refrain from adding to the harm?

When asked if we will perform the wedding, can't we direct them to the JP and not confuse God's forgiveness with the attempting to clean-up toxic left overs? The pain caused by such dysfunction severs more than marital relationship; it also wreaks havoc in adult children's lives via addictions of all kinds.

Must the recitation of God's grace be the occasion to inflict deeper spiritual wounding?

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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