To hell with that housewife

For many mainstream ministers, it's a moment of humor, celebration and a touch of world-weary irony.

It's the rite at the end of the white wedding, long after the symbolic handoff of the blushing bride from the father to the groom, the litany of modernized vows and the lifting of the bride's veil. That's when the minister gives the new husband permission, at last, to "kiss the bride."

"What patsies these poor clergy members must feel like," quips journalist Caitlin Flanagan, in her saucy, yet poignant memoir "To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife."

The typical minister must feel a flash of shame as he or she is "forced into the role of a sexual naif primly instructing a young man who has been living with his girlfriend for the past three years that he may 'kiss the bride.' Well why not? He's been doing God knows what else to her since the night they met at the softball league happy hour."

Consider, she added, the bride-to-be who "spent down her sexual capital a little too early in the game." She shared her dilemma in Brides magazine: "I promised my fianc