A story (or, rather, my tagline), led to an amazing letter from a priest. Let’s start with the story:
With This Pop Top I Thee Wed
Not content with Walmart hogging the spotlight with its summer wedding promotion [This is True, 24 June], the 99-Cent Only store in Lewisville, Texas, is offering an alternative. For just 99 cents, couples can get married in its store. “The whole idea is to draw attention to the ludicrousness of the extravagance of weddings,” said bargain shopping maven Sue Goldstein, who helped the store develop the service. (Dallas Morning News) …A 99-cent wedding? Big deal. What the world really needs is a 99-cent divorce.
My wife didn’t like the tag, but I figured most divorced men would — and left it despite her disapproval.
Opening a Discussion
What I didn’t expect was an amazing letter from a Catholic priest — Fr. Rick in Louisiana:
No. What it needs is a very expensive wedding license, with clerics out of the business completely. By officiating at weddings we act as de facto functionaries of the state. We got involved in weddings in the Middle Ages purely to legitimize political arrangements relating to estate management and inheritance and in so doing gave up our claim to any semblance of moral authority.
Instead, we need to stop officiating at weddings entirely. My recommendation — based on almost thirty years’ experience — is that we wait for perhaps five years after the state function and then bless the wedding in an all-out joyous recognition of the civil wedding. That can be done — again, I know from experience — in such a fashion that it is virtually indistinguishable from a ‘traditional’ church wedding; and it has the advantage of recognizing a union that has a reasonable chance of success. (On top of that, the anticipation of the ceremony would provide a motive for working on making the marriage a success.)
I figured readers would want to weigh in on whether churches — Catholic or otherwise — should get out of the marriage business. I look forward to your comments below.
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