Thursday, August 4, 2011

Illicit Relationships

There's a nice article in the Spokesman-Review today about my friends Jim and Andrea (Andy) CastroLang, and how their relationship began within the context of the Roman Catholic Church. They met when Jim was a priest and Andy a lay worker. Their relationship was clearly inappropriate within the context of the Church, which eventually led them to their affiliation with the United Church of Christ, where two people in love who desire to be married can also practice ministry.

As I read about Jim and Andy I wondered how many ministerial marriages began under circumstances that the church, then or now, regarded as illicit. My relationship with Sally was a clear violation that could've cost me my ministerial career before it began. That fact has led to my restraint in conversations about ministerial boundaries. I don't approve of predatory behavior among clergy or other professionals, but it seems that a bit of humility and forgiveness is always appropriate, no matter what insurance companies or the most (self)righteous among us say.

Of course the current fight in the larger culture isn't about priests marrying, or student ministers marrying members of the church they serve. It's about extending the right to marry to same sex couples. The critics contend their opposition is in defense of heterosexual marriage. Horse hockey. They also resort to sacred writ to bolster their arguments. Oh goodie. I always find myself moved by arguments wherein one religious group or another cite eternal law dictated by their Invisible Friend as justification for the oppression du jour.

This would be funnier if real people weren't so devastated by the discrimination, and if the groups that hold out for such oppression weren't so eager to extend their narrow views to public policy. Let me end by just saying that if you can read about Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his support from the American Family Association and not see the parallels with Sharia law, then you need to consider cutting back on your medication.

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