"That's too bad. I'm going to unfriend you. Vows are serious to me."
He did, too. He didn't even hang around long enough to read my response. C'est la vie.
Now, don't get me wrong -- I don't really get upset if anyone wants to unfriend me for whatever reason. I've never even met this particular person, so it's not like a childhood friend deciding to never speak to me again. But really? "Vows are serious to me?" This is your hill to die on?
|Making a vow....|
The implication, of course, is that by supposedly breaking my confirmation vow, I have lied. If that's how my actions must be viewed, I can live with that. I certainly have worse sins to confess. But before I concede the point and brand myself a liar, lets examine briefly what those vows were.
At my confirmation in the Lutheran Church, I confessed the Apostles Creed. I was asked "Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?" I responded "yes....." and recited the First Article. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son?" "Yes...." Second Article. "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?" "Yes...." Third Article. "Do you intend to hold steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?" "I do so intend with the help of God." I was asked whether I held the Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God, confessed the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as expressed in the Book of Concord and held the same to be faithful and true, and I responded "I do." I was asked if I desired to become a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and I responded "I do."
Then I was asked if I intend faithfully to conform all my life to the divine Word, to be faithful in the use of God's Word and Sacraments, and in faith, word and action to remain true to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even to death. I said "I do."
So here is where the rubber meets the road. When convinced, as I am, that the Lutheran confession is not the fullness of the Faith of Christ, when convinced that the true Church is found in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and when my conscience is bound that "remaining true to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even to death" means becoming Orthodox, what am I to do? I have not renounced the Apostles Creed. I have not renounced the Word nor the Sacraments. So exactly which portion of these vows have I broken? Answer: only that portion which binds me to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Which brings us to the real question: to whom was this vow given and to whom is fidelity owed?
I was asked at my confirmation whether I confessed the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as taught in the Small Catechism and the Book of Concord. I responded "I do" because I did. I don't anymore. I have been convinced otherwise. And lets be clear -- this is not the same as breaking the "I do" of a marriage vow, because the portion of the vow in question is not directed to God, but to a particular understanding of God. Just as my marriage vows are given to my wife and not my best man or groomsman or even the Pastor, my confirmation vow is given to God, not the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Am I keeping that vow by remaining in a confession I no longer share fully, that I now believe does not fully express His Church? Would I be keeping it by refusing to unite myself to what I now believe is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church merely to avoid stepping on someone's feelings? Should I have remained Lutheran and believed and spoken as if I were Eastern Orthodox? Or should I have just remained Lutheran and lied to everyone about what I believe?
More to the point, by leaving the Lutheran confession and becoming Orthodox, have I somehow disunited myself from Him Who received the promise? If the marriage vow is the parallel here (and I think it is), to whom did I promise myself at my confirmation? I fully understand my former "friend" considers his tradition to be equal to the pure and Holy Word of God, but you know what? So does everyone else. If I determine that is not the case, to whom should I remain faithful? To whom is my fidelity owed? The guy to whom I made no vow, but who nevertheless feels jilted because I disagree with his view of the Christian Faith, or the One to Whom the vow was made?
|Martin Luther and Katharina Von Bora|
At the end of the day, consistency requires us to treat vows into our own tradition the same as vows away from our own tradition. If the person who so indignantly unfriended me takes vows so seriously, he should be consistent and tell all who will listen that they should never convert to the Lutheran confession from another tradition. After all, he wouldn't want to be complicit in someone breaking their vows. Then again, being a convert to Lutheranism himself, maybe not.
I don't mind being "unfriended." I do wish those doing the unfriending would put a half ounce of thought into their reasons for doing so. Kyrie eleison.