Saturday, May 17, 2014

The truth is that fewer young couples are choosing traditional church weddings. An increasing number of couples choose a small civil ceremony, or a Christian ceremony offsite, or no wedding at all. Many establish a household and a life together without any official civil or religious sanction. These changes in relationships and in commitment decisions feed a growing apprehension that young people are divorcing themselves from the church. If couples are not choosing typical church weddings, doesn’t that indicate the marginalization of the church in these people’s lives and, by extension, in society at large? And so congregations like Matthew’s ask anxiously: Why wouldn’t a pastor unquestioningly embrace a couple asking to be married? Why would a pastor pass up a chance to draw a young couple into the church?

But perhaps that’s the wrong question. Perhaps the question we should be asking is, What does it mean for a couple to get married in the church? One of my seminary professors once recited the nursery rhyme: “Here is the church, and here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.” Then he added, “Of course, it’s only when you open the doors that you see the church. The church is the community.” Viewed in that light, Matthew did not deny the engaged couple a church wedding but instead offered them one.

Read it all.

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