Our granddaughter, Hayley Echols, and her husband, Taylor, have just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. On the day of the anniversary Hayley wrote on Instagram, “Contrary to popular belief, your life is not over when you get married. I think I have had more fun this past year then in any other year of my life!
Our culture sometimes makes marriage seem lame and outdated, but marriage is a precious gift from God, ordained and designed by Him so we can bring glory to Him by serving Him together, keeping our commitment to each other and enjoying one another.
“I am so thankful for a man who prays for me and with me, forgives me, challenges me, says, ‘I’m sorry’ (because neither of us are perfect), laughs with me, works hard, serves others and reminds me that God is always in control.”
Hayley’s comments remind me of her church wedding and that marriage “is a precious gift from God, ordained and designed by Him.” That is why I recommend a church wedding for Christians. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but I would like to make my case for Church weddings for believers.
First, a church wedding recognizes God’s divine plan for marriage and indicates that the bride and groom seek the blessings of heaven upon their relationship and the home they are establishing.
Second, a church wedding signifies that the couple acknowledges the importance of being bound together by a spiritual love. In pre-marital counseling, I always urged engaged couples to understand the significance of three Greek words for love: “eros, phileo, and agape.”
I explained that “eros” is the Greek word from which we get our word “erotic” and signifies the importance of intimate, sexual love, which is to be reserved for marriage. “Phileo” is more of a social or friendship kind of love and in a marriage both the bride and groom should be marrying their best friend. They cultivate that kind of love by sharing life and doing things together.
“Agape” is a spiritual love, the kind of love God has for us and the kind of love that is enhanced as each partner in marriage grows in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is “agape” love that will bind the couple together in cords that cannot be broken.
When a couple say their vows at the altar of marriage they should understand they are promising to love each other with “eros,” phileo,” and “agape” love until death parts them.
Third, a Christian wedding should be considered as a worship service. It has all the properties of a worship service. There is a minister, a congregation of people, a message (the citing of biblical principles and a charge to the bride and groom), and Christian music. I had one bride who wanted “Strawberry Wine” sung at her wedding. It was the most inappropriate song for a wedding anyone could imagine. We didn’t grant her request. In fact, I provided a list of appropriate songs for her wedding.
I always explained that every wedding has an invitation. It’s not at the end of the service, but at the beginning. It is never extended by the officiant, but understood. In a worship service most people never know who may respond to the invitation, but in a wedding everyone knows who will come to the altar – the bride and groom. In a Sunday worship service most people do not know the commitments made at the altar, but in a wedding the whole congregation is able to witness the commitments made by the bride and groom at the altar and help keep them accountable to their vows.
Also, in a wedding the bride and groom have considerable input into the planning of the wedding/worship experience. They get to choose who participates, the selection of the music (within certain parameters), and in some cases write the vows they will choose to make.
Fourth, a church wedding that is supported by prayer and careful planning may result in young people seeing God’s divine plan for marriage and give married couples an opportunity to renew their vows as they watch the bride and groom pledge their solemn oaths to each other.
Fifth, since unredeemed people often come to weddings and funerals I generally have requested permission from the bride and groom or the family of the deceased to present the Gospel on such occasions. In weddings I would typically recount the salvation stories of the couple and urge each attendee to open his/her heart to the redemptive work of Christ.
Sixth, marriage is more than a civil contract; it is a sacred covenant. Since the Supreme Court has diminished the whole concept of marriage by legalizing same-sex unions, it is all the more important to expose the secularization of marriage by celebrating God’s divine plan for marriage in a church worship ceremony. Furthermore, a civil contract can be easily broken; a sacred covenant is meant to be binding and for a lifetime.
Seventh, a Christian marriage establishes a spiritual foundation for the couple’s children. Wedding vows should include the couple’s promise to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Christian parents should also seek to lead their children to faith in Christ.
Indeed, a church marriage – whether large or small – should signify that Christ will become the centerpiece of the new home and that both partners resolve to become more like Christ so they can develop a strong, vibrant Christian marriage.