Tag Archives: wedding

Sure, how about a Big Bang wedding???

As I’ve pointed out before, Lutherans treat a wedding as a matter of worship.

First yea, it really gets under my skin having five comedians (the Big Bang Wedding between Howard and Bernadette) claiming that they’re “ordained” ministers. The state designates those who can marry, such as county clerks, judges etc, they’re certainly not “ordained”, the state sets the requirements. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it’s not enough to be ordained, you have to be the pastor of an active church.

Yes, people can be designated by the state to perform a one-time marriage ceremony and I think there are states that can license you to regularly perform weddings. That does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that you’re “ordained”. The United States military requires chaplains to have a Masters of Divinity Degree, that chaplains are properly examined and ordained by a recognized religious organization and also requires further training. I would say that this is the best description of being “ordained”, you sure as heck don’t do it on line for one wedding ceremony.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, what I’m really twisted about is the trivial, sentimental, “it’s all about me” wedding ceremony. As I said, Lutherans hold weddings to be a worship service. It is a serious, albeit joyous, occasion, and needs to be treated seriously. Why on earth would you want to start something as serious and sacred as marriage with something as trivial as what was on television?

We don’t treat marriage very seriously, it’s a convenience, it’s social convention, it’s a reason to have fun time. But it’s really not a commitment. Sorry ladies, but for too many of you it’s just a time where you’re the center of attention, and the fun and the party is all about you. Afterwards, well… I’ve had my own experiences. I try and I am going to be redoubling that effort, to insist that anyone I marry has a significant amount of counseling. I went to some time and expense to get trained in a comprehensive program to let people analyse a lot of their interpersonal relationships and to deal with them as we do counseling. I want them to start out in their marriage with as much as possible on the table between the two. I don’t want to hear 2, 3, 5 however many years down the road: “well we just couldn’t work it out…” I want it to get worked out before the marriage. My goal is to marry a man and a woman who go into marriage with their eyes wide open and to have that marriage last a life time. I’m going to do all that I can to make sure it doesn’t end in divorce.

ESV Mark 10:8 and they shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” … 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her,”
Divorce is not acceptable to God. Yes it happens and He certainly provides in the cases when an unbelieving spouse wants a divorce or simply walks away. And divorce is not the unforgivable sin. But as a Christian pastor who only wants to marry two people who are in Christ, who are married in Christian worship, who take solemn vows before God to stay married “…so long as you both shall live?” You just made a solemn vow, for those who want to get married, you should seriously consider what you are doing when you are taking that vow before God.

Save all the sentimental, dancing around, food, decorations, trivial stuff etc for the reception. I promise I will, probably, show up. But I won’t stay long so you can do some of the crazy stuff. But in that sanctuary, before that altar and a minister of the Gospel, your family and friends, it is serious business. It is done in formal dress, in a formal environment, before God in order to emphasize the solemnity of the occasion. We all need to treat it that way and understand what we say and do. I’m sure the Big Bang stuff is all cute and fun, but marriage, from the start, should be about that relationship that Jesus lives before us. Jesus’ example is about His being the bridegroom and the church being the bride. He has sacrificed all for His bride and protected and served her, how could the bride, the church, not do as much as it can. We take that relationship of Christ and His Church as our example as husband and wife and live that in the strength and faith that the Holy Spirit gives us to live as one-flesh.

I know someone’s going to fuss, “oh it’s just television”, yea but. This is what people take seriously the absolute trivializing of marriage, and be honest, that’s where too many people are today. So let’s knock off the stupid stuff about being a “Reverend”, it’s a lot of hard work, time and education. Believe me. As much as you trivialize the Ministry of Christ’s Church and the institution of marriage, what really should we take seriously anymore?

Weddings are for worship and should not be a lot of money, period!

This is based on an article in the Wall Street Journal dated Oct  5, 2014 (sorry cut off the page number). The average, AVERAGE wedding in America costs $29,858. That is more then I made when I started my first job at Chase Commercial Corp. ( one wedding in ten cost between $50,000 and $100,000! This is not a typo) I’m going to say it and I’m sure someone won’t like it, but that’s insane! Turns out that the article would tend to agree. The author Brett Arends quotes research done by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, two economics professor at Emory University in Atlanta (A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration). Their findings were, at least to the current culture of excess and overkill, that: “We find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.” That is, the more you spend on the wedding/engagement, the more likely that you will not stay married.

The authors found that “women whose weddings had cost more than $20,000. ended up getting divorced 60% more often than those whose weddings were cheaper. And men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on their engagement ring got divorced 30% more often than those who spent between $500 and $2,000.” Mr Arends talks about the likelihood of an expensive wedding raising expectations, etc. He also writes about the very real possibility that the couple may feel trapped into the wedding after a lot of money has been spent and maybe now they’re having second thoughts.

The upshot is this: “The evidence suggests that the types of weddings associated with the lower likelihood of divorce are those that are relatively inexpensive but high in attendance,’ write Messrs. Francis and Mialon.” Didn’t see that coming didja? My translation; there is a lot more intimacy, a lot more feeling of being together with a modest cost wedding. You don’t start your married lives already trying to outdo people or impress people, creating problems right from the start. Instead you have a nice group of those you want at the wedding and you treat them nicely, but hey, who’s kidding who and trying to wow everyone? It’s just not the way to start a marriage.

Now I think I have a different perspective on this than most people and for that matter most clergy. I think even clergy have fallen into the trap of conceding the ceremony to other people and really just being a prop. I get it, most important day, want it to be perfect, everybody look at me, yada, yada. Feeding into the immaturity and narcissism that is so prevalent in today’s society. I think we all know a bride that felt the entire event was about her, center stage, look at me, with very little understanding of the fact that there was going to be a marriage after the wedding. The marriage is supposed to last for decades, not months.

I am a Lutheran pastor and I would probably be smitten if George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin came to me and asked me to perform their wedding. Nonetheless, it just is not going to be at their level, at least not for the ceremony. Yea, a couple is going to do what they want for a reception, but in the church I pastor, that ceremony is going to be about them coming before God and understanding that their marriage is all about living a Christian life, in all they do.

Ladies you aren’t going to like this, but a Lutheran wedding is about worship, the pastor is the center of attention, not you. You will get your moment, but the pastor’s responsibility to you and frankly to the rest of the people in attendance is to impress upon all, the seriousness of marriage and the commitment you are making before God. Isn’t that the way it should be, isn’t that the way you want your marriage to start? Versus a big show “it’s all about me”? The wedding ceremony isn’t especially long, but there is no mistaking the emphasis. You have come together before God and these witnesses to make a sacred commitment and take sacred vows. You better take them seriously from the start. It is a reminder of what marriage is about, and yes, between a man and a woman. It is entirely what God’s intention is for marriage, the union between two complementary persons, man and woman, how God created us and how we should live that union together, one flesh.

It is also worship for those attending, many of whom have probably not been in worship since, well let’s be upbeat and say since Easter or Christmas. It is a reminder to them that marriage is sacred, it is important, it’s about all the trials and tribulations of life and marriage. It’s not about giving up the first time things don’t go your way, it’s about living through all those things to God’s glory, not yours. Towards the end of the ceremony I close with this prayer and it is not just for the two who are now married, but for all the married couples in attendance: “O God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of Your love and grant that each, in reverence for Christ, fulfill the duties You have given. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary and a foretaste of our eternal home with You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Lutheran Service Book Agenda p 70, Concordia House Publishing) And then the Lord’s prayer. So ya, this isn’t some Hollywood movie, this is about marriage that is for all the right reasons and things and that’s the way it should be. Sorry to my brother pastors, but if you have a couple whose purpose is something else, just shut it off then. I didn’t go into the ministry to be popular, I am a minister of Jesus Christ and I serve Him and am here to help and serve those that I come in contact with to know Him and His will. Not to be someone’s prop at a Hollywood wedding, so George and Amal, I’d have to respectfully decline if the wedding is anything other than that. The reception, hey, you’re on your own on that.  And now I get to start wedding  counseling with a couple tonight and that’s is so great and they know the drill. I can’t wait to help them start this exciting adventure to a wonderful life in Jesus and to the glory of God.