Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Church or No?

My fiance and I are not involved with any church. I've tried out several churches in my hometown, and I've come to the conclusion that I am just too liberal for the conservative part of the country that I live in. A major pro with moving is for me to find a church that I can be involved in.

The church thing hasn't been an issue, until we got engaged. Now it is an issue, as I feel pretty strongly about getting married in a church. Maybe it's silly, but I wouldn't feel married if it wasn't in a church. I believe that there is a strong spiritual element to my relationship with my fiance, and I think that should be honored in our ceremony.

I am really into religious scholarship. Learning about other religions makes me so happy. Religion is such an integral part of people's lives, and I am fascinated by the way someone's religion impacts their life, and why they believe what they believe. So even though I'm not a regular church attender, religion is a big part of my life. I'd like to get my master's in Religious Studies at some point. My Christmas present from my fiance was 2 master's level courses on DVD on "The Historical Jesus" and "The Other Gospels" taught by one of my favorite religious scholars, Dr. Bart Ehrman. I'm not only a running nerd, but a huge nerd.

Needless to say, what church we're getting married in has huge significance to me. My wonderful fiance has turned over all decisions concerning the ceremony to me, because he knows how important it is to me.
But I'm stuck. Here are my criteria:

1. There can be no insistence that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. I think that there are plenty of different ways to reach the top of the mountain, and an infinite amount of ways to get to know God. I think that Jesus was an extraordinary man who showed us a whole new way to live. Unfortunately, this rules out pretty much every Christian church.
2. If the church isn't down with the gays, then I'm not down with the church. I (my fiance as well) feel strongly that God made gay people the way that they are, and we should treat them like human beings and not like second-class citizens. I don't want any gay people attending our wedding to feel out of place or like they don't belong there.

This basically leaves me with....the Unitarian Universalists. Here are their 7 principles:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

They are about as liberal as it gets, and are down with the gays. Unfortunately, there is not Unitarian congregation in my hometown. So I don't know what to do!

There is one other option, but I'm unsure. My pastor from high school is really great. He was the one who told me that I needed to re-evaluate my relationship with my fiance back when we were just friends. When I attended his church with my family, he was very supportive and helpful. He's more liberal than the Lutheran church that he is a pastor for, he just isn't public about how liberal he is. I'm thinking that if I sat down with him and gave him my criteria for a wedding ceremony, that he would be fine with it. There is also a really pretty, historic Lutheran church in my hometown that he could perform the ceremony at.

So I don't know. This is the most important part of the wedding to me, and I want really want to make the right decision. There is a small Unitarian fellowship in town (they meet Sunday nights at 7, and I work quite a few weekend evenings, so I never make it). I've been thinking about contacting them about having a minister come into town to do the ceremony, but then I wouldn't have a church to get married in.

Any suggestions?

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