A Lament for a Marriage

According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, clergy are not allowed to conduct same sex weddings or bless same sex unions. Since I am not allowed to publicly pray for blessing, I wrote this lament many months ago. I offer it here, because I know some of my UMC clergy colleagues are going to be asked to officiate. Perhaps they will choose to officiate and risk retribution, or perhaps they will make referrals. Or perhaps they will find other creative ways to resist injustice:


 

God of covenant love, host of the wedding banquet, I bring you my lament that I am forbidden to bless this union. I lament that church rules dictate that I must be like one without a wedding garment. I lament that, as in Jesus’ story about the guests who refused to attend the wedding banuet, many have cut themselves off from witnessing the joy of this moment. We pray for all those whose disapproval hurts only themselves.

Yet, Lord, I also rejoice. When Balaam was hired to curse the Hebrew people, he could not; for how can one curse those whom God has blessed? It is not we clergy who bless, but you! And I’m grateful that our Methodist movement has been a movement of laypeople from the beginning, and when the church doors were closed to John Wesley, he preached from his father’s grave. Your blessings cannot be contained by legislation, or buildings, or authority figures, and we praise you because in the relationship of NAME and NAME, we see the fruits of your Spirit already growing: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We see your Spirit at work, and like Peter when he met Cornelius, we understand that we should call no one profane or unclean, but that everyone who does what is right is acceptable to you.

I am grateful, O God, for your grace that cannot be contained, that precedes our asking for it, frees us from sin and death, and continues to grow and perfect us in love. This couple, joined in covenant love, united in mission of love and service, is a testimony to your ongoing activity to work through your church, and when necessary, around it, to bring blessing and salvation to a world that desperately needs it.

Thank you, Almighty God, that though I cannot pray a blessing for them, you have seen fit to bless us with them. Your generosity astounds us. Amen.

6 thoughts on “A Lament for a Marriage

  1. Thank you Dave. On this, our 56th wedding anniversary, I lament with you that you are not allowed to officiate at the weddings of all who would ask. I rejoice that all who choose to marry their loved ones may now do so. Your reflections are heartwarming and hope-filled. We are blessed beyond measure to have you as our pastor.

  2. Pingback: A lament for a marriage | RMN+

  3. Forgive me, but I am not clear. Is the injustice that your colleagues ‘are not allowed to conduct same sex weddings’, or is the injustice that they must perform a ceremony that violates their conscience? It seems, to me, the latter would be the greater offense.

    • I agree it would be an offense to be forced to perform a ceremony. But since we have the power to decline officiating for any reason, or no reason, I don’t see the relevance.

      I have declined to officiate weddings because couples couldn’t be bothered with premarital counseling, or had no affiliation with a faith community, or because I had a schedule conflict. Imaginary scenarios set in dystopian futures are interesting philosophical questions, but a lament deals with a real situation.

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