Are You Still There, God?
I am not getting married in a church. I guess that is fitting seeing that I have not practiced formalized religion in over a decade. I was raised attending a Lutheran Church. As a child I went through many of the rights of passage for an up-and-coming Christian. I was baptized almost immediately after I was born. I attended services weekly and special classes to "prepare" me for my First Communion. After my parents divorced, I lost touch with the Lutheran faith. Apparently I was attending for the benefit of my parents' peace of mind. I had no interest or means to attend services on my own. It is safe to say I lost touch at that time; however, I feel comfortable saying that I had not lost my Faith in God.
A few years later I reconnected with the church. This time I was the invited guest of a friend. It was a nondenominational church. The only title it claimed was "Christian." It was a relaxed environment that emphasized forgiveness and acceptance. Ironically, I severed ties with the church because one of its congregants was shunned for having a child out of wedlock. That congregant was the same friend who invited me to join this belief in a "forgiving and accepting" God. Once again, I found myself losing touch with religion and church.
Today, as my wedding approaches, my mind applies religion to the marital equation. After all, religion and marriage have a tendency to be paired together. Almost every faith ties religion into the civic union that is marriage. Weddings are commonly held in a church, mosque, or other appropriate religious facility. I guess it's only natural that I would have to consider the religious implications that my own wedding holds, if there are any.
I contemplate, "Where does God fit in my marriage? Does God have a place at this table?" And, more importantly, "Is God still there?"
But I don't find myself questioning my own beliefs. I know that I have the ability to believe. I feel it is a matter of finding something that I can put my belief into.
As I look around today and see religious chicanery run amuck, I wonder, why put my belief back into a house of God. I see religion masking political agendas. I see war sponsored and condoned in the name of religion. I see scriptures twisted for the use of justifiable intolerance and persecution. I see religion corrupted by its leaders. I see religion soullessly used as a springboard to fame and ill-gotten fortune.
I ask myself, "How can I justify bringing these things into my life? How can I invite an ideology into my heart and home knowing the misuse that it shields?"
Religion and God serve good purpose. I do not deny that. I also admit that both the good and the evil cannot be as simple as the words I put onto this page. It isn't this simple.
So when I stand before my friends and family in mid-June on the shores of the Narragansett Bay, where will God be? Is this a moral dilemma? Am I torn between my willingness to believe in God and my skepticism of religious misallocation? Will I be labeled a sinner for questioning my own convictions? More importantly, will I be labeled a sinner for suggesting that a particular church and religion currently have no place in my life? Is that blasphemy? Can I be a blasphemer if I don't partake in religious practices?
Perhaps the question I need to ask is this, "If I do believe in God, is it necessary for me to proclaim that belief to a particular pulpit?"
Some people will point to me and proclaim that because I choose not to embrace a church of prayer that I also choose to refute the existence of God. But that concept is part of the reason I choose to not attend a church.
I choose to believe in something that does not require me to give a certain amount of money in order to acknowledge my belief in a higher being. I choose to believe in a higher being that accepts all believers, unconditionally, because who can say what is and is not acceptable?
On my wedding day, I will be able to understand that God is there. And although I won't be in a church, it won't matter, because my faith is what tells me where God will be.