Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wedding Bells?

Inevitably, it happens every summer - it is the joyful celebration of couples joining together in marriage. I will confess to something that many pastors may not readily admit:  most pastors find it easier to do funerals than weddings. I know that sounds strange to many of you reading this, but as a rule we know that when we do a funeral we have no words to give comfort only the truth of the gospel and our hope in Christ is all we offer. But, for much of my ministry I have had a sense of dread when it came to weddings because you know that in most cases, you have parents dropping big bucks on a single day and they want everything special and perfect for their daughter:  the battle to make it perfect with so many people involved can sometimes be unpleasant!  However, over the last few years I discovered that much of the problem I had with weddings was because of my poor instruction.   I had bought into the American idea that the wedding was this one day that this sweet girl had always dreamed of, and I would spend time at end of several premarital counseling sessions really trying to find out what the bride wanted me to do in order to make this her special day. Now, certainly a wedding is a celebration, and we should want that day to be special; but, the desire for the bride to be happy has created shows like Bridezilla! We have taught and bought into the unbiblical idea that the wedding is all about the bride, and then in 3, 5, 9 or 12 years we are shocked that the couple comes in for counseling because the reality has hit them that the world, nor the marriage revolves around them.

The couples that I have dealt with at Trinity in the last year or so who have been planning their wedding have been the most enjoyable couples I have ever worked with before.  The main reason for this is because I am determined to change this mindset as a pastor.  I have purposefully taught from the pulpit –every time I speak of marriage - that the chief purpose of marriage is not about the couple, but it is solely about Christ. I have heard and said many times that “marriage was God’s idea” but too often after that is uttered in a wedding ceremony, we then put our focus on the earthly bride and groom. The purpose of marriage is to honor God; the reason for children is for a godly offspring. Neither the ceremony nor the marriage is about you, nor is it about me. It IS about God, and when we participate in a wedding ceremony it should drip with the beauty of the love and dedication Christ has to His people and that we should have to Him. Marriage is a wonderful idea that only God could have authored, and while it can bring wonderful joy, we would do well to teach our children, ourselves and our engaged couples that your happiness is not the chief purpose of marriage, God’s glory is. The more clearly I have taught this from the pulpit it has been amazing that during premarital counseling the focus has shifted from how can we make “Cinderella feel more like a princess” to the bride and groom asking for ways and ideas that they could better display the truth of the gospel and love that Christ has for His bride in their wedding.  Now, I must also say that the couples I have been counseling with in this area have been so focused on their walk with Christ coming into the relationship, that it has been a blessing watching as they develop a minset for marriage that is in covenant with Christ. 

All that to say, it has been so refreshing and joyful for me as a pastor, to watch so many of our newly married and soon to be married couples, walk in to my office using their creative energy not to focus on “self” but to glorify Christ on their special day! What a blessing!