In the early years of North Raleigh United Methodist Church, the congregation held a womanless wedding. We performed the ceremony in “the old metal building” which at the time was the only structure on the property. Rabbit trail: a whooshing sigh from the chairs in that early sanctuary served as entertainment—for boys like me, anyway. Each time the congregation stood to sing or hear the reading of the word, I knew a united Methodist “fart” would follow. The construction of the cushions in the chairs held air, and when pressed, the air escaped. The more we stood, the more I snickered.
I may be wrong about this, but I think Red Hewitt served as bride. Ed Smith might have been the groom, but I wouldn’t swear to this. Red was a large, gregarious, man who by his very nature caused people to laugh. At the time his role as bride seemed perfect.
Now nearly 5o years later NRUMC may soon have real womanless weddings.
During a June 25 online meeting, the UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration voted to amend local churches’ forms to include the option of non-binary as a gender category. “Non-binary” will now be included next to“male” and “female.”
According to UM News, “The change will take effect with forms for the 2021 collection year and will only affect the denomination’s data collection in the U.S. The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s policy book, says all people are of sacred worth but states that ‘the practice of homosexuality’ is ‘incompatible with Christian teaching.’ However, GCFA staff confirmed that adding non-binary to the forms does not conflict with any paragraph in the Discipline. Board members also concluded the change is not in conflict with any legislation related to sexuality heading to the pandemic-delayed General Conference.”
I read the UM News report and thought back to that first womanless wedding and wondered if we had erred in our attempt to have a little fun. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “A woman shall not wear a man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”
I cannot imagine today that NRUMC would even consider such an event. A womanless wedding for the sake of humor would be offensive to those attracted to members of the same gender. Like those farting chairs I found so funny, had we mocked a sacred event for a few laughs and offended those who were gay? Had we offended God?
We can’t change the past, but with the help of God’s Holy Spirit we can change how we live in the present and future.
Lord, forgive me for mocking what you call sacred. Forgive me for making fun of all who are created in your image, loved by you, and worthy of your Son’s saving death on the cross. May you give me your eyes to see, ears to hear, hands with which to reach out, and a heart that breaks every time I choose my sin over your love.
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