Delayed Response

I've never been known to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, so sometimes it takes me a while to respond to what I've read, heard, saw or experience. June 21st PCUSA congregations got a letter from the PCUSA Stated Clerk, Clifton Kirkpatrick and the General Assembly Council Executive Director, Linda Valentine. Here's my story….

A man and wife come to their pastor one Sunday after worship. They were members and regular in attendance. They gave to the church and attended various functions. But most folks knew things weren't all peaceful and joyous. The pastor felt she/he finally had the chance to see what was going on with them and perhaps be of help. Entering the office the wife was obviously the more upset. She had been crying while her husband looked very nonplussed and rather embarrassed by his wife's behavior.

"I don't know what the big deal is." He said as the two of them sat down. "I just don't get it."

Shocked, his wife looked at him and blurted out, "How can having an affair NOT be a BIG deal?"

The pastor took a deep breath. Nothing much surprised him/her but this really through her/him for a loop. He/she never saw this coming.

"It's not I don't LOVE you," the husband explained, "I promised to care for you and I do."

"How can you CARE for me and sleep with someone else?" she cried.

"I haven't violated my vow to you? Remember when you had the flu I took off work. I got a second job when you wanted to build on to the house. I support the family and attend all the kids Little League games." Isn't that what I promised?

"Um, if I can break in a moment," their pastor said looking at the husband, "what have you been smoking?" Before he could respond, the pastor continued. "Did you even listen to those vows?"

"What do you mean?" stammered the husband.

"'I take you to be my wife and I promise before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful husband; in plenty and in want; in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health; as long as both shall live.' Those are vows you took."1 Declared the preacher. "What part of loving and faithful is unclear?"

"I am being loving and faithful." Countered the man. "I'm not subjecting her to unwanted attention. And just because I enjoy the company of another woman doesn't mean I'm unfaithful to her. SHE is the one who is my wife, not my lovers."

"LOVERS?" screamed the wife. "Plural? How many are you talking about?"

"Let's not get hung up in numbers, honey, the fact is that in my heart I am still faithful to you. I still love you. You're still the one I promised to live with." Then he turned to the pastor and said, "Do you have a list that defines loving and faithful?"

"Yeah! It's called the bible and common sense." He/she started to explain only to be interrupted.

"But the bible has polygamy and is open to interpretation, so I ask you again. Aren't my vows still intact, even though I don't live up to YOUR understanding of loving and faithful means? Isn't it the vow itself, not the behavior that is at stake here?

Let them with ears to hear, hear.



  1. Book of Common Worship p. 845


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