Before You Say I Do

Apparently, at the the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the members (at least five or six of them) need to know what race you are.  In the church’s 150 year history, there has never been an African American couple to wed there and that won’t change– at least not this year. Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson had to change their wedding venue because some of the members of the predominately European American attended church objected to the wedding.  The couple had not joined the church but Te’Andrea had been attending the services for a year and Charles more recently.

Jim Futral, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, said of the incident, “Mississippi Baptists both reject racial discrimination and at the same time respect the autonomy of our local churches to deal with difficulties and disagreements under the lordship of Jesus. While there may be hurts, wrongs and mistakes that must be addressed, the context for this to happen is in a historical church with a genuine caring pastor and thoughtful leaders who are seeking to do right.”  So, we are to respect the church’s autonomous decision to discriminate based on the social construct of race?  And what is right?  What is just?

Was it right that the pastor had to decide whether to marry the couple or keep his job?  Was it fair that the pastoral needs of this couple were dismissed because of the prejudices of other members?  I can’t help but wonder, “How long will we, as a body of believers drawn by God’s unconditional love, allow race to prevent us from loving others?”

If there is any just cause why this man and this woman should not be married at this church, let the Church speak now or forever hold its peace.

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