This is off-color, but there is often pointed truth in ribald humor.
A man asks a woman if she will sleep with him for a million dollars. She says she will. He asks, “How about for 100?” She remonstrates, “What kind of a woman do you think I am?” He replies, “We’ve already established that; now we’re just quibbling about price.”
Mercifully, I have forgotten which LCMS church in Missouri is doing this. On their website they offer members the opportunity to take Communion to shut-ins. The one requirement that struck me was that you must be a tither.
This church has established what they are. They’ve also established what they think of the Holy Communion. Only RN’s are allowed to give certain medications in the hospital, but in that church any tither can give the Medicine of Immortality. Some medicine requires RN’s to administer because those medicines given to the wrong person can kill. But the Medicine of Immortality which a person can eat and drink to their condemnation or in such a way as to result in weakness, sickness or even death, “ain’t no big thing.” Any Tom, Dick, or Jane as long as they are tither will do. This church, these pastors, have established what they are, but they aren’t quibbling about price. It’s 10%.
This is a meretricious practice. Meretricious means attractive or plausible in a vulgar or deceitful way. The dictionary offers the sentence, “The meretricious excitement of a gambling casino.” It comes from the Latin meretricius which means relating to a harlot. The Latin word for harlot is meretrix. Our word prostitute comes from prostitutus the past participle of prostituere to expose publicly, dishonor.
The practice of allowing tithers to administer the Lord’s Supper is attractive in a vulgar way. It’s a “selling” of an ecclesiastical privilege. This, however, is worse than simony because they don’t own that which they are selling. The vulgarity, however, is on the part of the pastors not the pious lay people who “just want to help.” The clergy are dangling before lay people the extraordinary privilege of administering, and perhaps celebrating (It’s not clear what they are actually doing from the website.), the Lord’s Supper. What person who longs for Christ’s Body and Blood to “be for my soul the highest good,” would not be attracted? But they don’t know they are being attracted to something they should not be.
That makes this practice meretricious, attractive not only in a vulgar but in a deceitful way. It is has not been given to lay persons to administer and certainly not to celebrate The Mysteries. It has been given to them to receive them. To the clergy, it has been given to administer and celebrate them, but how meretricious it is for the clergy to humble themselves to share this privilege with lay people. It is as alluring and seductive as a scantily glad trollop is even to a pious Christian man. The difference is it is clear to him what she is even if the price isn’t while in this Missouri church the price is clear while what is being prostituted is not.