If you follow me on Twitter or are my Facebook friend, you've already got wind of this story. I have so much to say about it, though, that 140 characters just wouldn't do!
As you may know, I'm marrying the love of my life in one to six weeks, and until this week, we still didn't have a preacher. We already had a church booked, but the preacher there is new and neither of us knows him, so we were kind of waffling as to who would do the ceremony. That was also kind of my Mister's job, to reserve the church and get a preacher.
Finally I told him we HAD to decide so we could be sure someone would be available. He agreed, and suggestd Pastor Strictchurch. My Mister has known him for years. His family is from the area. He is younger and seemingly a laid-back guy. I was excited. I knew he would be perfect.
I went about my day, and by mid-afternoon I noticed I had a voicemail. I listened to it:
"Hey baby, it's me. Hey, uh, I talked to Pastor Strictchurch and he said he can't marry us because you've been married before. Something about the way he got ordained or his church or something, I don't know but he said he can't re-marry people, so I guess we will try to call that guy Mr. Davesdad told us about tonight. Anyway, I'll talk to you later. Love you."
Tears had already filled my eyes. For a moment I couldn't be rational. My emotions took over. I felt damaged. I felt like our not having a preacher was MY fault. I felt judged and cast out. I became angry.
What that guy didn't know, in his "innocent" apologetic response to our request, was that I grew up in a Baptist church. I know what the Bible says about divorce and re-marriage. I went through a period where I felt I was headed straight to Hell with no escape, and decided that was better than the marriage I was in. This concept has been forced upon me by more than one person.
For months I struggled. I pulled away from the church, because all they seemed to have for me was judgment and doomsday. I still prayed. I still felt like I had a relationship with God, but His people had ruined church for me.
I was finally able to express my troubles to a preacher friend from college who has studied the Bible and the times of the Bible in depth. He is an intelligent, understanding, non-judgmental person. He explained some of the passages to me, explained the CONTEXT in which they were written, and how it's not as literal and black-and-white as some of the people like to read it. Like any literature, it's not meant to be taken at literal face value. It contains symbolism, metaphors, analogies, satire, and allegories.
But Pastor Strictchurch, he opened that all back up for me. He automatically made me want nothing to do with his church, or even his denomination. I realize it wasn't "his" decision, but that of the institution he represents, but either way, they are supposed to reach people. Supposed to care. Not make certain people feel worthless.
I told my mom about what was going on, and she told me about the verse I am all-to familiar with, and that some pastors see re-marriage as adultery when the other spouse is alive or not, and basically they don't want to "condone" that. Which wasn't all that helpful, except in making me even more angry with the whole situation.
So if all the preachers refuse to marry us, are they encouraging us to "live in sin"? They're encouraging "adultery" either way, right? So why not let us be married. Why do they get to be judge, jury, and executioner?
I betcha if Jesus were here, he'd marry us. Because he was a kind man who welcomed all kinds of people, who saw past the things they did to who they were inside. He's the kinda guy who dies on a cross for all the bad things you did, not throws you out with the bathwater because your marriage failed.
I made up my mind that I was going to try Pastor Newguy, and if he had issue with it we would forget the church, go with a civilian officiate, and be done with it. I phoned him, and explained my situation. He was glad to marry us. Mr. Davesdad had already talked to him about us, and he had no issue with my divorce.
It's nice that there are good and helpful Christians out there, but it's sad that I've encountered far more judgmental jerks. The ones who claim to be God's people, who run "sinners" out of their church. If I didn't have the church and Bible background I have, there is no way I could see past the jerks. It's sad they feel the need to take it upon themselves to do the judging. They must have missed the verses about not judging others.