Love Lost


I met Cindy long after she had raised her children, divorced and found work that brought focus to her life. Some years after we became friends she met Joe, a doctor at a hospital where she was a volunteer. They hit it off immediately and fell in love, but were hesitant to marry because Joe was a widower with fresh memories of his wife’s long illness and Cindy had worked so hard to establish herself on her own. Eventually Cindy moved in with Joe to avoid going to old folks’ apartments. Her spirit was way too young for that yet.

At a certain point their love gave sense to marriage, so Joe contacted the Presbyterian Church where he was a member and where he and his family had gone for decades. He told the pastors that he and Cindy wanted to be married there. But the answer came back, “What would the congregation think? No, you can’t unless you and Cindy live apart for a good length of time.” They had violated the rule of “fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.”

Joe and Cindy asked me to preside at their wedding in a ceremony to be held in the garden behind their house. After meeting with them several times, I agreed. They remember every detail of that September afternoon twelve years ago. For me, the glow they display because of their love for one other is a model for marriage. But they have had little to do with the congregation that aimed its attention on living arrangements and gossip rather than the love, commitment and partnership they shared.

Certainly Joe and Cindy’s story is another manifestation of the hurt caused by the Church’s discomfort with sexuality, which has troubled us from our New Testament beginnings to this very day. How did we go so far astray? After all, God gave us the body and called it good, as well as spirituality and the gift of our souls.

Last week Cindy passed away due to complications following heart surgery. I was asked to preside at her funeral because Joe did not want a minister from the Presbyterian congregation that had refused to affirm their love involved in pastoral care for his and Cindy’s visiting family.

When the Church denies a loving, committed couple the opportunity to marry, the amount of love in the world does not decrease; nor does the love between the partners. But the amount of love in the Church does decrease every time we turn a couple away. Cindy always wanted the Church to embrace all such loving couples, including two men or two women. For that love that is lost to us, and for Cindy, I weep.


Reverend Janet

3 Responses
  • Donna on February 12, 2010

    Dear Janet,

    This brought tears to my eyes…and a prayer of thanks to God for people like you who know that the call for the Body of Christ is to LOVE and gather people in to Him.

    I’m sorry for your and friends’ loss. May God give you peace and comfort.


  • Karen Marshall on February 14, 2010

    I am so glad that Joe and my mother had Janet to help them with recognizing their love and allowing them to have their committment recognized. I am thankful that their are people like Janet in the world who understand that love is a wonderful asset in anyone’s life. Thank you for being a part of my mother and step father’s life. Thank you for supporting my mother’s journey on to the next level.

    Thank you for being there for her and for me and my partner Tracy. Your support was invaluable. Karen Marshall

  • Janet Edwards on February 17, 2010

    Dear Karen, You are so very welcome though I think the more appropriate thanks is to you and Tracy for your effort to be present for your Mother’s passing and the week of family sharing that came after. I watched your whole family be knit together in love which I count an immense privilege. Thanks for including me. Peace be with you, Janet

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