Ministers face moral quandary


Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article (“Moral Dilemma: When Weddings Are a Career Risk” — link will expire in about a week) that describes the delicate position of many California clergy whose state supreme court has ruled that same-sex marriages are lawful but whose churches say otherwise.

The article focuses on Methodist minister Rev. Eileen Lindsay, whose decision to support three couples by siging their marriage licenses got more complicated when she learned that California law requires the signer to have conducted a wedding ceremony. After much soul-searching, she decided to keep her promise to the three couples. As a result of that decision (and the front-page publicity of a national newspaper’s story about it), Rev. Lindsay risks losing her position in the Methodist Church, whose official position is that homosexuality is a sin and the sacrament should not be offered to same-sex couples.

In a related story, the Northeastern Jurisdiction Conference of the Methodist Church voted yesterday to support California clergy who perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. (Read the story here.)

The dilemma of California clergy is further illustrated by the WSJ’s description of Father Greg Comella’s situation:

The Rev. Greg Comella, a Catholic priest and professor at a theological union in Berkeley, Calif., made the opposite decision from Ms. Lindsay. Last month, a former student, who has known Father Comella nearly 30 years, asked him to officiate at his same-sex wedding. Father Comella, 61, wrestled with the question but decided not to do it. If he were excommunicated, he would no longer be able to effect change through teaching, he says. It was also a personal decision: He has Parkinson’s disease and worries about losing his health care benefits. “I felt guilty for letting them down and not being able to be more courageous,” he says.

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