I was raised attending an Episcopal church up the street from my house. When I told my dad a few years ago that I planned to marry Mike one day he immediately suggested taking Mike to meet Father C. from the church I grew up in. Mike and I had already agreed on an outdoor ceremony. We wanted a Christian ceremony that was very personalized. We both have similar beliefs, but I attend church and Mike chooses not to.
I had never intended to get married inside, but the idea of going back to that church after so many years of living out of state was very appealing. Mike wasn't raised attending church and has the uncomfortable feeling I get in a hospital when he enters one. I told him I just wanted him to meet my old friend, that's all.
This man oversaw baptisms in my family, my first communion and came to the hospital more than once to pray with me before going into surgeries. He was a fixture in my life for a long time. I envisioned being greeted warmly and welcomed back. I thought it would be an important moment for me to have him meet the man I was goint to marry. Beyond that, I had no real plans as far as getting married in the actual physical church, but Father C. as the officiant was a possibility. Mike was hesitant, but came for my sake.
Mike's social anxiety causes him to constantly question everyone's motives on top of which organized religion in general makes him nervous. I reassured him countless times that Father C. was a great guy and there was nothing to fear. However, it did not go well. Father C. greeted us kindly if not in the way I'd imagined, but without a moment's pause he set in on how we had to both be in regular attendance at the church or he wouldn't even consider marrying us. It was very pushy almost threatening.
I was floored. I felt like I was being hassled for my lunch money rather than being welcomed back to my church family. It made me queasy. This was not the caring man I remembered this was an embittered bully. Faith can not be forced upon people and the sacraments are for everyone. This is no way to spread God's love.
The worst part is it confirmed all of Mike's negative feelings about churches. I had hoped we'd have a great visit and it would loosen him up a bit. I also lost a support system I thought would always be there that day.
Not to worry we found an officant that means a great deal to both of us and we're very happy, but that's a whole other post.