A good friend from my high school and college days contacted me a couple of months ago. He told me the news that he was engaged. He and his girlfriend had finally decided to get married. They have been living together for the past 5 years, and felt they were ready to take this big step and start a family. I was excited for him! I could hear the change in him through his voice. He was really at peace with taking this step in life. He wanted to do a good thing.
Here’s the kicker: He wants *ME* to perform the wedding ceremony. I was touched. It’s a big honor.
They are not members of the LDS Church. They are not religious. I do not even think my friend believes in God. He is an artist and musician, and he is pretty far out in his view of the world. He sometimes calls me “Elder” because it is amusing, and he remembers 20 years ago when I went on a mission. It is my endearing nickname. I used to play music with him, but made a big life change and left to serve a mission. It was a radical and foreign concept to him. It always struck him as cool though, in a hardcore devout kind of way. At least that is what he tells me.
So he tells me “You’re the only one I know who can pull this off. You’re the only clergy I could tolerate to officiate the ceremony. You *have* to be there or it just won’t work.” Yes, he thinks of me as church clergy. I teach in the LDS Church. I’ve baptized, confirmed, blessed and even ordained people. That makes me clergy right?
I did some poking around and realized that the LDS Church is not going to authorize me to marry two non-members, even though I’m an ordained Elder in the Church.
So I needed to come up with plan B.
I joined the Universal Life Church and requested ordination as a minister. They have only two items in their creed: Promote religious freedom, and Do that which is right. Neither of those conflict with my LDS beliefs in any way. They authorize their ministers to perform weddings and any other ordinances people want.
I’m now a “priest” in both Churches. Am I an LDS apostate?
Or am I doing a practical, Christ-like service by reaching out to a friend at the level of faith they are ready to embrace? My friend wants to do something good, and he wants it to be a religious ceremony. He is reaching out toward faith in the best way he can.
When I officiate, I’m going to be wearing a medieval priest cassock and probably a stole with a Celtic cross, Taoist symbol of good luck and the 4 Led Zeppelin rock band symbols embroidered on it. How cool is that???!!!