Monday, January 18, 2010

Church or State

*NOTE It is pure coincidence (or maybe not . . . see my post from August 8, 2008 ) that this post immediately follows my January 7th post on making decisions.

Weber and I are now engaged (actually we have been since September 5th) and are planning our wedding. One of the first decisions to be made was whether we wanted a secular or a sacred wedding. Many people avoid the pomp, circumstance, and expense of a formal church wedding when the marriage is a second for one or both parties as is the case with us. However, for reasons that are deeply personal and that we have discussed and prayed about at length, we decided that because it was God’s love and grace that brought us together and the same that will nourish and sustain us in our life to come, we want to make our commitment to each other and to God in The Church.

Our first step in this process was to approach our rector. He gave us our parish’s “Wedding Guide.” It resembles one of those manuals that comes with your TV and that you really have no desire to read but must if you want anything to work in your favor. We read it, but whether anything is working in our favor is up for debate.

Our second step was a meeting with our vicar. I have yet to figure out what the real purpose of this meeting was other than to tell us that our next next step was to is to seek pre-marital counseling. My first marriage was in the Episcopal Church. We received the requisite counseling from the priest who would be officiating at our wedding. Despite the fact that my first marriage ended, I honestly believe that we entered into it seriously and believed that the counseling was thorough.

Weber and I assumed that we would receive our counseling from a priest as well. Not so. Much to our surprise, our clergy does not offer such counseling; they “refer’ us out to a secular therapist. We made a prayerful decision to make our commitment to one another through the sacrament of holy matrimony. It is upsetting that our church and our clergy do not seem to be taking our commitment to one another and to God as seriously as we are.

I know that young couples who have no experience sharing a life with another human being can benefit from secular counseling with regard to practical matters such as communication skills, dealing with in-laws, philosophies on child-rearing, gender roles in the relationship, and money. I am nearly fifty years old. I have a grasp on these things. And, many of them don’t pertain to us. We have exactly one family member between us. We are both only children and the only parent either of has living is my dad. Should we have to deal with child-rearing issues, ours will be truly a religious experience – or the making of a lawsuit, which would take care of any money issues.

Because our church does not seem to recognize how strongly we feel about our desire for our pre-marital counseling to be spiritually based and is requiring us to see a secular counselor to address “our issues”, we have used our communication skills that the clergy thinks that we are lacking to make a list of things to discuss during our time with a counselor.

These are the things we have come up with:
• Paper or plastic
• Rough cut or quick
• Vista or Windows 7
• Boxers or briefs
• Time or Newsweek
• 1-ply or 2
• Cotton or nylon
• Gas or electric
• iTunes or eMusic
• Morning or Evening
• Blended or fruit on the bottom
• White or wheat
• Times or Arial
• Scented or unscented
• French or Spanish
• Tassimo or Keurig
• Side by side or top and bottom
• 200 or 400 count
• Hard or soft
• East or west
• Church or state

At $90 an hour, I’m not sure how many hours we can spend dealing with these burning issues, but I will keep you posted on how a professional deals with such things.