Of the last eight weddings I’ve attended, not one of those celebrations occurred in a church building. This even includes weddings featuring brides/grooms who are themselves clergy. Even devout Christians often choose a non-traditional venue.
There are many reasons for this:
- It’s less expensive and more convenient to hold one’s wedding and reception in the same location.
- Gone are many of the judgments about “non-church weddings” because our theology has expanded.
- A “church wedding” can happen in a field, on a beach, or in a cave for that matter. What makes it “church” – theologically speaking – is the community surrounding the couple, not the stained glass windows surrounding the couple.
- Christians who belong to mega-churches often prefer a more intimate sanctuary than an auditorium.
As our FBC and his betrothed prepare for their wedding this Saturday, I’ve often imagined What My Mother Would Say had she lived to see this milestone. Engraved invitations have been replaced by mass printed card stock. The “save-the-date” announcement was a video. The gift registry is on Amazon. Professional servers in white jackets were never considered, but instead we will be graced by friends who have volunteered to pour wine and refill sweet tea urns.
Wedding traditions have changed dramatically – in some ways for the better and in some ways for the ridiculous. Some practices drive me crazy, theologically. (Just say no to individual communion.) And there are others that make today’s weddings feel much more authentic.
Karl Rahner was right: when couples marry, they create a new little church. They will do what a church does: have a purpose and a mission and core values. For followers of Jesus, they will worship God, pray for and with each other, serve neighbors, and contribute financially to the poor. This is what I hope for my own children and their future spouses – that they would get that marriage is not merely about two people being in love. It’s about two people partnering together to love others and to make the world a little more like heaven.
This is the kind of conversation that’s trickier than the pre-wedding conversation about church building versus beach venue. Honestly, most of us haven’t got a clue what married life will be like when we stand before God and loved ones and exchange vows. Where it happens doesn’t matter very much. How it happens doesn’t matter very much. But why it happens matters quite a bit.
My posts will be limited this week because I’ll be in swirling in the wedding vortex. But commentary will surely follow.
Image is not of our backyard, but it will look something like this in my head.