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July 31, 2007

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steve the z

I'm not sure about this take on marriage and the role of the church in it. I can see his point, however with an abrupt decision he has potentially cut off the church community from the greater community mainly from what I gather is frustration with limited impact the "church wedding" is having on the people in that moment.

I would consider the actions of Jesus before making that choice, dining with the societies "unchurched" was a regular practice, it seems to me that I would urge possibly a new approach to these weddings, not just a wave of a hand to say "off you go, dine else where". I would be so bold as to say that prayer and time may lead to a different view point.

I have hope that the body of Christ can impact the greater community for God's purpose, cutting back on what could be a great oppourtunity for leading people seems like the wrong way to go.

megan

I've heard the same arguments regarding baptism, and my concern is that we're misusing the sacraments. If we as a church are truly ministering to evangelizing and loving our communities in other ways, then can we not, without offending or feeling like we're missing the one opportunity for a person's salvation, reserve the sacraments for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ? I don't think the role of the sacraments is to evangelize, and if we're using them that way, maybe we're not evangelizing as we should.

Leslie

Lutheran doctrine doesn't ordain marriage as a sacrament as it wasn't directly commanded by Christ. In our congregation, people not involved with a church wanting to be married are required to incorporate Scripture reading and opportunity for a pastor's gospel message in the ceremony.

I would assume God prefers marriage over the other options for couples wanting to be together? For that matter, lots of churched young couples marry and fall away. Hard to predict how the church relationships will turn out after the ceremony.

If two people for whatever reason want to involve the proclamation of Christ at the beginning of their marriage that doesn't seem so bad to me.

But I don't view it as a sacrament.

anthony

i am unsure that the xian god is all that fond of marriage. i understand its social need, etc, but i have yet to figure out how to handle things like it is better to marry then burn, or the gospel statements about leavings families in order to follow christ...

sameo416

Joe, thanks for the echo...

This is not an abrupt decision, just the end of a slow simmer of experience and prayer. We so easily cross the line into dispensing the cheap grace our culture demands.

I'm not sure of the comparison between eating with outcasts and sinners...and inviting nuptial couples to act like they're members of our community when they aren't. There is a lie in that duplicity that does not reflect Christ's teaching. Jesus did not say, 'believe what you like and come and follow me', which is the message we send when we marry the unchurched.

Evangelism leads first to conversion...not to marriage.

steve the z

Good evening sameo416,
good comments, and since this is a result of your experience and prayer I respect it. I'm not sure what my response would be as I am not in your role, it's too easy to arm chair flock lead.

My concern starts with creating a division between what could be a good contact with a community that has a relationship with Christ and a young couple that is still forming choices for thier lives. I'm unsure of what can be expected of people who do not come from a mind set of following Christ, conversion is before marriage in the priority list, but may not be chronologically first. I am writing from personal experience, married as a young "unchurched" couple with no visible faith, we became "converted" later and are still trying to be faithful servants of Christ. If I had been turned away by the pastor or church because of my lack of interest (at the time), I'm not sure what effect that would have had, it could of been a wake up or possibly just annoying, some may interpret it as being asked to never come back.

However, my thoughts may not reflect appropriately on your position or experiences, and I may have misunderstood your message. I have been known to miss the mark on regular occasion, this may be added to that long list.

Sally

Sameo, you're taking a cynical and shortsighted view of this issue. I hadn't been to church in 20 years, but did want to get married in church. My local Anglican rector was so welcoming that after my wedding 12 years ago, I began going regularly and still do. Now, of course, I'm an usher, in charge of coffee hour ... etc. Your view of the "unchurched" and the "faithful" is club mentality - there are insiders and outsiders and that's that. In my view, this type of thinking is one factor in church decline. Are we an insular crowd with lots of rules for membership and punishment for those who don't measure up or do we simply welcome *all* in Christ's name?

alex

I wonder if there is a way to say we welcome all, and still desire that Jesus is the focus. Some churches say you either are a member or have to go through a course like Alpha first. To simply say, "Yes, use our church for your purposes" cheapens the gospel and the community.

My expectation is that someone who wants to get married in a church is signifying that Jesus is integral to the marriage. If Jesus isn't a part of the couple's life, then why a church wedding? Just because the building looks good? Or peer pressure?

We have choosen a church building and set it aside (made it holy) for God - that is where we worship God, that is where we proclaim the Truth. Why then should we let people use it to satisfy their own vainglory?

sameo416

I'm certainly a cynic - learned over 21 years in the military. What I will claim is broad experience in terms of the number of couples I've seen come in to have 'their marriage done' or 'their kid done'; and the number than I never see again (all of them). My concern is selling out the sacred trust passed to me in an effort to please the culture.

It isn't nice to hear, but we do have rules for membership and calling yourself a 'Christian' requires at least a minimum commitment to articles of faith. My read (I have erred many times before) is that part of our irrelevance is the fact that we practice cheap grace, which has made the church little more than a social club.

Being a person of faith in Christ means that the world should see you as a bit crazy. I fear that offering church weddings to any who ask is just giving in to the culture's demand for service and choice and has little to do with Christ.

Maybe the answer is to say - you wish a church wedding? In addition to marriage prep weekend, we expect you to attend Alpha or the 34-week Disciple course as a pre-requisite.

Thanks for the good discussion.

joseph

It's an interesting discussion. Perhaps we need to rely less on "institutional forms" of evangelism...

steve the z

This is good discussion, and I must agree with (in most cases) the comment "the culture's demand for service and choice and has little to do with Christ". I also agree with one of the original comments "A marriage service in community draws the faith family around the new couple to support them in life and with prayer. The transition to married life is developed and occurs within the "faith village" where it is then nurtured." I respect sameo416's desire to lead people to Christ and away from a service that "turns the sacrament of marriage into a fancy 'justice of the peace' event."

As I wrote of earlier, my concern was the respopnse to the issue, respecting the source of the issue. I don't have a good plan for change, the idea of an alpha or disciple course is intriging, and not without merrit. It would send some away, but some only want their way and that can't be changed. But I believe many would respond positively to a sincere desire to help.

The way I see the questions, it is how to educate people so as they can understand and digest what it means to be part of and married in a faith community. And if they don't want to, or see no value in this understanding then dealing with them in a manner that would leave the door open to come back.

joseph

So how shall we do our best to make our weddings (and by extension our marriages for those who are married) "Christ centered"? That at least was one thought that came to my mind...

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  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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