The Ethical Dilemma: I Don’t Want to Take Communion at My Friend’s Wedding!

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M.O.B. Wants Me To Take Communion: How can I politely attend the Episcopalian wedding of a close friend’s daughter? The friend and I get along because we don’t talk about religion—she knows my facts, and I am aware of her beliefs. However, whenever we dine at their house, we are invited to bend our heads and say grace. My husband and I just stare silently at each other.

The wedding will be heavy on God and my friend has told me that I will have to “suck it up” and take communion. I don’t even know what communion is, but I know I don’t want to take it! At other church weddings, I have sat quietly during prayer time and changed the words to songs, even using “dog” for the mythical one. But I don’t think my quiet protests will go unnoticed at this wedding. I am also afraid I might shout out something inappropriate or start shushing people. Maybe I should just go to the reception, where my discomfort is less likely to be noticed.

We’re also invited to a Church of England wedding in the UK. My friend, who is the only religious one in her family, is planning a wonderful party for after the service. She excitedly told me we were on the A-list. I wondered what she meant until she explained this meant we were invited to both the service and the party. The lucky (in my opinion) B-listers only get invited to the party!

—Don’t Want To Take A Knee, Let Alone Communion

Dear Don’t,

Yes, don’t! Politely but firmly tell your friend you will not “suck up” anything, whether it’s wine or wafers, or your own values. If that demotes you to the B-list (or off all lists), so B it. If you were Jewish or Muslim, would she expect you take communion? Even if you were Episcopalian, it’s out of line—and perhaps even a sin in the eyes of the faith—to command anyone to perform a sacred ritual against their own conscience.

It’s fine (even fun) during prayers to keep your head up, eyes open, and lips not moving (or moving to alternative words that amuse you). But it would be impolite for you to register anything that others read as disrespect or protest. If you really do fear you might lose control, beg off the ceremony and say how much you want to attend the party. Explain to your friend you just aren’t comfortable at a religious service and don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable, but you want to be there to celebrate and share the occasion at the reception. A friend who isn’t willing to accept you on these terms is not a true friend. (If you weren’t such a VIP, you could just “accidentally” show up too late for the vows but maybe just in time for the kiss, but that’s not an option in this case.)

You can do the same for the UK event. This will make room for someone on the B-list who is eager to get promoted to your spot on A. And again, if this friend says not to bother coming at all, she’ll have saved you a long, expensive trip just for a party, however nice.

Even if your friends dump you in a huff, you would do well to leave the door open. Many lovely ladies turn into Mother-of-the-Bridezillas. It could take time, but maybe they’ll one day see things differently and want to reconnect (and perhaps beg forgiveness), which is easier if at least one of you didn’t do any slamming.