Tag Archive: Marriage


Since California’s Proposition 8 has been in the news (seemingly forever, but only really since the 2010 Election), many friends, neighbors, and church folks have ask my opinion on the subject.  As a pastor, I sense they are trying to discern my “true Christian-ness.”

“What’s your take?  Where do you stand?” they ask.

My response to the most recent person who asked: “I stand with Christ.  I stand on the Christian side.”

“Oh,” he said. “So, you’re against same-sex marriage.”

Uh?  What?  I never said that!

I stand with Christ.  The Christ that welcomed the outcast and marginalized.  The Jesus who ate with the least and the lowly, the unclean and the tax collectors.  The Savior who refused to ignore those deemed unworthy.  The Christ who touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable.

But my friend’s jump to a conclusion was clear: The “Christian” side is the Rick Warren side.  Or the Albert Mohler side.  To stand with Christ is to stand with those who refute the judge’s findings.

Why is it that “standing with Christ” is interpreted as standing on the side of exclusion?  When did this fusion of Christianity and the Right-Wing happen?  Why is is that the “Christian” side is synonymous with the GOP?  Why do we use Christian and Conservative interchangeably?  When was “Christian”translated as hate, prejudice, and discrimination?

I stand with Christ.

I stand with Peter.  I  echo his words to the Gentiles in Acts 10: “I understand that God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34).

Where have all the Christians gone?  Where are the voices of compassion, humanity, and tenderness?

I pray for the day when “Christian” becomes  synonymous with love, compassion, inclusion, and grace.  When “standing with Christ” means standing on the side of justice, fairness, and embrace. When being a Christian reveals to the world around us that we truly heed the call of Micah, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6.8)

Mark 10:2-26

“Jesus, what’s the point of the Law?  On what grounds is divorce acceptable?” the Pharisees ask Jesus.  You would think that the Pharisees would learn their lesson.  Every time they come to test Jesus, to back him into a corner, it is they who leave entangled.  This encounter is no different.

The Pharisees want to talk about the Law and divorce, but Jesus wants to talk about Creation and love.  The Pharisees are concerned with Deuteronomy, Jesus goes back to Genesis.  Jesus says, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’…and the two will become one flesh.’  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  God created humanity in love for the purpose of loving God and one another.

Love, not a rule about divorce, is what Jesus wishes to promote. But not just any love.  Christ calls Creation to a love for Him and one another that is unconditional.  A love without boundaries.  A love without limits.  Jesus might say, “If we can get the beginning right- if we can get the love right- then the divorce question will take care of itself.”

How are we able to love our spouses and neighbors in such an extraordinary and extravagant way?  With the grace of God.  By knowing that we have a Lord and Savior who loves us this way.  Christ didn’t come to earth to gives us a bunch of rules.  God became incarnate, died, and was resurrected in order to show us how to love.  He came to show us true obedience, commitment, sacrifice, and fidelity.  We love because Christ first loved us (1 Jn 4:19).

This love without limits that Christ calls us to is articulated nicely in our marriage vows.  We love in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for pricher or poorer.  We love when we don’t feel like it. We love even when its difficult and we don’t think we can.  Some will say, “But my neighbor is a scoundrel. My wife is my enemy.  Love is just not an option!”  But what did Jesus say about our enemies?  Love even them…unconditonally…without limits.

Pastor for hire?

Wedding RingsWhat is it about weddings that makes Christians, including pastors, squirm?  There’s just something about weddings (or marriage) that always raise theological questions/struggles/dilemmas for Christians.  We, as Christians, understand that a wedding is about God, God’s covenant, and God’s love (and not our own desires), but that doesn’t always make planning/participating any less peculiar.

A few months ago I noticed a visiting couple sitting quietly in a pew, waiting for Sunday morning worship to begin. After church I introduced myself to them, and we chatted for a few minutes.  The next day, I received a phone call from the lady.  She commented on how “pretty and perfect” the church appeared, and wanted to know if she could have her wedding there.  Even more, she asked if I would perform the service.

My dilemma came after meeting with the couple on several occasions.  I unexpectedly realized that they were not  “active” Christians looking for an overtly Christian marriage service.  They believed/agreed with the Christian emphases in the service (Trinity, God’s love, etc…), but they did not want any hymns, Scripture reading, and/or sermon/meditation.  Rather, they were seeking use of our church because it “had a middle aisle, seated the correct number of people, and was beautiful inside and out.”  It seemed to me that the Justice of the Peace (think, Andy Griffith!) could have more efficiently, and just as adequately (for their purposes), “done the job.”

Did I want to be a “for hire” pastor open to marrying anyone who liked the look of our stained glass windows?  Or, am I responsible for being more judicious in determining whom the church opens its doors to marry?  Did it matter that they were both married multiple times previously?  What about their lack of a home church/faith community?  While I felt as though I was not supposed to make a judgment on whether or not they should get married, I did believe it was my responsibility to determine whether or not they should get married in our church, God’s house.

In the end, I married the couple in our church.  I prayerfully decided that the couple’s urging/desire/inkling to get married in a church represented a base emotion/belief that God was involved, and marriage was a Christian commitment.  I also thought that perhaps opening the church doors to those in the community might allow our church to demonstrate our love/acceptance of those we seek to reach.

I’m not sure that I “got it right,” but the situation got me thinking.

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