Wedding Redux…

My wife just had a phone conversation with someone regarding her participation in a friend’s wedding.  The bridesmaids’ dresses are running $150 plus alterations which will likely almost double the cost of the dress. Then there are the shoes, the hair, the mani and pedicures, the jewelry, and travel out of state for: wedding showers, theme showers, and other bridesmaids’ events… And the financial burden that this person is being asked to commit to is a REAL financial challenge to them.

It seems to take some brides a year or more to plan something as simple as a wedding.  “Simple you say, Preacher? What do you know about weddings?” Well, yeah…ok…

What disturbs me even more deeply is what I sense to be brides who are more concerned with one-upping their friend’s wedding than having something that is actually meaningful; that they are more often trying to impress people than to please God; more interested in impressing people than demonstrating their love for their spouse and their friends. I have yet to see a wedding where the ceremony itself was actually the focal point. In fact that central 20 minutes service is often seen as more of an inconvenience on the way to the reception, than a reason for the reception.

I secretly embrace asking the church to add a Value Added Tax to the use of the Church building – something like 20% of the TOTAL cost of the wedding, but grace compels me to again see the example of Jesus dying on the cross and the integrity of the church sometimes being sacrificed for the pleasure of the wedding participants. Grace is free.

Is it sour grapes, perhaps?  By way of confession I also secretly wrestle with inappropriate thoughts when the family or couple proudly present me with a check for $25-$100 when I see they’ve spent $10-30k or more on the rest of the wedding and the use of the church facilities hasn’t cost them a cent. “Is that what they truly think of the value of the church or my role in this important day?” I realize once again that being the servant is difficult.  My mind runs wild… “does it lend any credibility to my twisted sense that that the real focus isn’t on the church, the faith, or the ceremony anyway? “Perhaps it’s all they had left…and that’s how so many give to the church anyway, mortgage, car payment, restaurants, shoes, fun, vacation…and maybe if there is a bit left this month….”

(My cynicism, honestly, is beginning to make me think I need to move my retirement date forward…)

Now, having said all of this, I must also say that I am truly blessed with a daughter who wants something simple, who wants to keep the main thing the main thing – a church ceremony (not a venue, not a destination, not some “romantic” freshly mowed hayfield…), perhaps a reception in the Fellowship Hall, maybe 30-40 guests???  Maybe 2-3 months to plan?  I LOVE this girl, she knows what REALLY matters.

She hasn’t whored herself out to live with her boyfriend only to have the unmitigated gall to wear white or even ivory to the wedding ceremony in a church who’s Lord she has so ignored up to this point. She hasn’t sold her soul to the fashion community.  She hasn’t tried to present herself as some wannabe princess to an earthly king she will soon grow to disrespect or even disdain simply because he hasn’t met her own selfish, self perceived needs.

I guess 33 years in ministry and countless weddings have soured me to the whole farce of so many church weddings.  Perhaps it is best that folks are getting married outside of the church, avoiding the whole hypocrisy trap of a pretending faith.

A wedding is about two Christian believers – a man and a woman – bringing their relationship before the Lord and asking their closest friends and family to WITNESS THE VOWS and thereafter to hold them accountable in their relationship to one another, to the church, and to the Lord. And accepting those persons admonition and exhortations as well as their encouragement and prayerful support.

Brides, grooms, parents, friends, get a grip.  It is not about the bride. It is not about the couple. It is not about the parents or the families. It certainly isn’t about appearances. A wedding is about the love that God has given two believers that commits them – NO MATTER WHAT – to building a life-long relationship that is able to withstand the selfishness and greed, the idolatry and evil of the greater culture – in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, for better and for worse – so help them, God! The wedding service which unites a couple celebrates that and shares that witness to the bond of love, the pledge of faithfulness, which is taken before the Lord until death. No exceptions. If couples focused as much on their relationship as they do their wedding and honeymoon, that wretch of a wench “divorce” would be almost nonexistent.

Our earthly marriage is based on a heavenly love and a heavenly model, that the Lord our God is always faithful and will one day present His bride, the Church (those TRUE believers) to himself as a spotless bride.  To God be the Glory!

n.b. this rant does not necessarily relate to any weddings I may have done or will be doing…nor does it necessarily not have anything to do with such.