This Year, Don't Just Attend Weddings
Well I am back from North Carolina (so sad!) and upon my arrival yesterday, Illinois greeted me with a rainy, dreary day. Luckily, my spirits couldn’t be dampened after an amazing week and a half spent with family and friends. I attended two weddings and was honored with two baby showers, and my heart has been full all week. I continually give thanks to God for the ways He has blessed me with great friends and family. It is one of the best aspects of my life here on earth!
As I just mentioned, while I was home I attended two different weddings for long-time friends. Both weddings were a total joy and I had a blast. I am SO incredibly happy for both couples! However, weddings are also a sobering occasion for me. I know that sounds a bit Debbie Downer-ish, but here’s what I mean:
Although our culture treats weddings like a major social event (I mean, how many people are extremely disappointed when they show up to a dry reception?), the Christian faith believes that a wedding is much more. Certain Christian traditions believe marriage is a sacrament–ie. a means of God’s grace in our lives–and most Christians believe it is a sacred moment that depicts the holy union between Christ and his bride, the Church.
For Christians, a wedding ceremony is a very serious occasion in which two people commit to love one another in a way that testifies to God’s unconditional, unending love. However, that is not the only commitment that takes place on a wedding day. Of arguably equal importance is the commitment of their surrounding community to help them persevere in their vows, to live out the marriage covenant faithfully, even when it is difficult.
Evangelicals place a tremendous emphasis on the former commitment. We put couples through pre-marital counseling and inundate them with books to help them navigate the oft-rough waters of marriage. What evangelicals fail to emphasize as strongly is the communal commitment to support the couple, even though that commitment is critical.
No couple really understands what they are agreeing to on their wedding day, and if left to their own devices they will be vulnerable to a whole host of obstacles. That’s why the attendees are there–not only to share in the couple’s joy, but to participate in the marital commitment.
Theologian Stanley Hauerwas is one Christian who puts an adequate emphasis on the community role in a marriage. He argues that most couples marry for lust, not love, and while I personally think that’s a bit of an overstatement, I also get what he’s saying. For many of us, the wedding belongs to the honeymoon period when both the man and woman are young, healthy, childless, and doting. For many, though not all, the dating, engagement, and wedding represent the easiest (though perhaps less deep) phase of the relationship. It is only when a couple starts doing life together and encounters the hardships of marriage that they begin to understand what they have committed to. And it is then that a couple needs support.
It is for this reason that Hauerwas emphasizes the role of the community in helping a couple live into their vows. As the rose-colored glasses come off and a couple gets into the nitty-gritty stuff of marriage, they need a church body that will push them to be godly spouses, and exhort them to fight for their marriage.
That is why I take wedding attendance very seriously. If I stand behind a couple on their wedding day, my presence is a commitment to help them live out their vows. I take this so seriously that, if a marriage begins to falter and I do nothing, I consider that a personal failing on my part. In such an instance, I have not borne up my end of the deal. I have not been the Body of Christ to them, and there is a stain on my hands.
Now, I am not legalistic about this. There are times when you attend a wedding as someone’s date and you don’t know the couple at all, and I don’t think you should be faulted for your subsequent lack of involvement in the couple’s life. But I also wonder if this common circumstance should challenge our thinking about weddings as social events. When a close friend gets married and you don’t have a date, is it appropriate to bring someone who does not know the couple, simply to avoid being dateless? Christian weddings are not, after all, like prom.
There is certainly room for more discussion on this aspect of weddings. In the mean time, as the wedding season goes into full swing this year, think carefully about the weddings you attend and what you commit to with your presence. A wedding is more than a lovely formality, but is instead a holy occasion in which a couple, and their community, embark on a journey together.
CC Photo by Jimmyshag on Flickr
- Andrew MasonUncommon Gratitude http://andrewsmason.com/uncommon-gratitude/ #HappyThanksgiving
- Andrew MasonCreating A Small Group Curriculum Map by Ben Reed http://www.smallgroupchurches.com/creating-a-small-group-curriculum-map/
- Marcella WoodridgeThe longer I live the more I know I need GOD leading my life every step of the way.
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia Carter just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost May Jesus Christ Be The Ultimate Treasure We Always Seek by Debbie Harris..
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost Father Who Can We Graciously And Humbly Walk Beside Today Just To Love by Debbie Harris.
- Bryce Johnson just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Bill Reichart published the blogpost 13 Resources For Ministry Leaders Who Struggle with Porn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Expert Reveals Biggest Concern About Youngsters And Social Media.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Half (54%) Of US Teens Think Life Would Be Better Without Social Media.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Roy Lichtenstein's Most Popular Painting is Displayed.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost After Confronting Campus Bully, HS Football Player Gets Suspended.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Conservative Student Is Victim Of ‘Racist Rape Apologist’ Attack Fliers.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Yik Yak app Putting Teens Behind Bars, Police Warn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Hearing That Things Can Change Helps Teens Dodge Depression.
- Andrew Shivers just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost GIVEAWAY: Win a Framed “The Fault in Our Stars” FULL SIZE Movie Poster [Winner Chosen].
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost ‘Boxtrolls:’ Incredible Animation, Charmless Story.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Video of the Day: Dad Lip-Syncs Daughter's Tantrum.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost SOTW: ‘Chasing After The Wind’ by Alan Powell (Free Friday Download).
- Matt Perman published the blogpost The Drive Video: If You Want Engagement, Self-Direction is Better.
- LuAnn Braley published the blogpost BOOK REVIEW/INTERVIEW: The Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth.
- Shane Blackshear published the blogpost Seminary Dropout 55: Gary Black Jr. – Co-author of The Divine Conspiracy Continued.
- Lori Fogleman published the blogpost ‘Believe Me': Alum’s thought-provoking film now in theaters.
- Michael Ramsey published the blogpost Stress Kills!!! Here's 3 Ways To Do Something About It.
- Larry Carter published the blogpost How The New Fall TV Season Reminds Me Of The Gospel.
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost 20 Approaches to Battling Depression-Anxiety as Suffering.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Hellion’ is A Wild, Family-Driven Ride Worth Taking.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ is Cool, Uncommitted.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost “Kidnapped for Christ” Review: The Terror of Teens.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Pieces Together a Winning Team.
- Ashley Howland published the blogpost Talking about cancer on WFAA’s ‘Two Chairs’ series.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Get Excited: New ‘Believe Me’ Trailer Validates Everything We Thought.