Years ago, I almost married a witch.
It was at a time in which I was serving as an active duty military Chaplain that I got a call from a helicopter pilot wanting to know if I perform “all weddings.”
“Well,” I said with qualification, “I’m a Protestant chaplain and I do all Protestant weddings.”
“Good,” he said. “Can my fiancée and I schedule some time with you?”
At this point, you need to understand that military chaplains aren’t allowed to charge for weddings. Many of the folks who contacted the chapel for weddings were bargain hunters who’d never been in a church. And this pilot was one of them.
At our appointment, as we sat reading the spiritual language contained in the ceremony, I sensed some uneasiness. This was usually the point where I’d explain that a church wedding is a worship service and therefore a sacrament. And it was usually at that point that I’d lose the ones who came because the price was right.
“Would it be possible for you not to talk so much about God?” the pilot blurted.
“Well, no. I kinda get paid to talk about God. Maybe you need to consider a Justice of the Peace?” I suggested.
“You see”, the fiancée countered, “we want to do this wedding in the woods. We don’t think my friends will go to a church wedding. Most of them are offended if you mention God and the Bible.”
When I offered to make it an interfaith wedding, she finally broke lose with an explanation. “No, that’s not the problem. I should have told you – I’m WICCAN.”
The thing you should know is that Wiccans sometimes do their worship outside in the woods – even naked outside in the woods. I’m thinking, “This could be interesting. It’s summer. Perhaps I could step outside my comfort zone.”
I could even imagine the conversation with my wife:
“Dear, where are you going?”
“To a wedding,” I would say blushing.
“Undressed like that?”
“No, I thought I would wear a hat.”
My wife is pretty quick. Not sure that one would get past her.
I brought my attention back to the present and explained that I couldn’t do the wedding without using Christian vows because I was, well, a Christian.
“But you said you did all weddings – no matter what denomination,” protested the pilot.
I tried to explain that Wiccans were witches – not just another break in the Baptist church – but the pilot remained unmoved. It took the intervention of his fiancée to sway the argument. Her intervening words were so profound that I have quoted them to nearly every engaged couple who has come to my office.
“Dear, don’t you understand? We would be hypocrites if we promised something we don’t believe and the chaplain would be a hypocrite for leading us to promise something he knew that we did not believe.”
Wow, I was under her spell.
It seemed to me that this woman had a sense of her own worth; while her fiancé was more interested in bargain hunting – to the point of denying something that was important about who she was.
The pilot was not only a bargain hunter, but he was also trying to smuggle God into a relationship where God was not wanted. And the truth is that God only comes to marriages as an invited guest.
The incident reminded me of the story where a woman is offered ten thousand dollars for illicit relations with a rich playboy. When the woman quickly agrees, the man tries to better his price.
“How about $500?”
“Absolutely not! What kind of woman do you think I am?”
“We’ve already established that, the man said,” We’re just haggling over the price.”
We often try to haggle the price of our integrity. We try to hide who we are because showing who we really are might cost us something, but in the end, if we have to conceal who we are, if we sell out who we are, it has cost us everything.