Thursday, August 31, 2006

Reimagining and Deconstructing

Let me give you a conundrum:

A widowed 75 year old woman meets a spry 73 year old widowed man in church and fall in love. Both seeking companionship both emotional and physical, decide to get married. However, since both have been living independantly and receiving their Social Security checks to pay their bills, they realize that if they got married one would lose his or her Social Security altogether. Given the reality that one of the two may not live as long as they would like, where would they be once they were widowed again? And with the cost of utilities increasing exponentially, gas prices unstable, and the cost of living skyrocketing, what should they do?

If they stay together and don't get married, according to their church and tradition, they are living in sin? If they get married, the financial hardships they'll create for themselves (assuming both are not independenly wealthy) may very well create a huge financially stress-laden burden. They can't do that either. What should they do?

Former Bishop John Spong writes about such conundrums in one of his books entitled, 'Living in Sin?' In it, he talks about the need to reimagine our traditions when necessity calls for it (like an aging and healthier population). Next month at church, we are beginning a month-long book study at a church member's house. We will be discussing this book and other perceived social taboos that demand a modern re-imagining.

Two members of our church were in the above example. Do you know what they did? They got married but sought no marriage license, and thereby their marriage is not recognized by the State. They are married in the eyes of their faith community, just not with the State. Is what they did dishonest? Not hardly. They made a compromise that addressed their faith as well as speaking to their economic condition.

I actually know many elderly couples who have done the same thing. Sometimes you have to do, what you have to do with the caveat that they find a way to honor their God and their faith in the process. What a joy it is for me to serve in a parish where people are open-minded, and spiritually and intellectually curious enough to find solutions to their problems without compromising their integrity.

1 comment:

Todd said...

Bo -

I too have known of elderly couples in this same situation. I arrived at the same conclusion without knowledge of Spong's book. Glad to know we can occasionally arrive at a means to address such conundrums.