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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