11/01/2009

When NOT to do a Wedding?

When do you as a pastor "just say no" to performing a wedding?

What is your wedding policy? And why?

So, what do you think?

keith drury

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

One needs to make a distinction between marriage and the commitment of a couple together before God to join together according to His will and law and to receive the blessing of God, the leadership and church family. People can get married at the courthouse by a justice of the peace but only one place has an altar upon which an offering can be offered the other is nothing more than a courthouse where judgment is rendered!

Anonymous said...

In the eyes of God, if a man takes a woman into his tent, does that constitute marriage in the eyes of God even though no physical/public ceremony was performed. It seems to have worked that way for the lineage of Christ. Is it not still the same in the eyes of God today? I do not see any, thou shal have marriage counseling or thou shalt have a marriage ceremony!

Chap said...

I say YES to marrying two unbelievers...

This falls under the umbrella of God's will that a man and a woman get married. I do still require them to have counseling--but what a great opportunity to speak into their lives and share the gospel.

I say YES to marrying two people that are not from my church...
This still is dependent upon what I still say no to--but why not?

I say MAYBE to two previously divorced people...
Can they demonstrate maturity and growth from their previous marriage?
Where their previous divorces based upon the biblicial exceptions: adultery and abandonment?
Have they repented and sought reconciliation with their ex-spouse?

I say MAYBE to two people who are living together...
Are they believers? If not, what do you expect from unregenerate human beings? This is like trying to convert someone to alcohol abstinence before they recognize Jesus as Lord and Savior.
A great opportunity to speak into their lives truth and the gospel
Are they Christians?
Isn't God's will for them to get married whether they are Christians or not? Genesis 1-3 has nothing to do with identifying them as Jesus followers. I'd rather see them get married than continue to live together, especially if they have children together.

I say MAYBE to marrying a Christian and an unbeliver...
I know about "unequally yoked"--but if we were consistent we would say the same should be true with any partnership between an Christian and non-Christian (business, banking etc...)
Again, I meet with them, counsel them, share the gospel, discourage them where appropriate. This is the most difficult and heart searching for me.

All the rest I say NO too.

Chap said...

oops i left something out...

If they are Christians...
I meant this to be a seperate category from two people living together.
I will still meet with them to help them think through
repentance
to give them an opportunity to "change addresses" (many times this becomes an economic decision, so I ask them if this is the case we have a place you can move into until you get married)
I also ask if they are having sex...and to stop until they are married.
Finally, I help them to consider if one or both of them really aren't Christians at all.

Anonymous said...

I allow my church's policy to determine whom I marry IN THE CHURCH... but my own policies set whom I will marry outside of a church wedding. Believing marriage to be established by God for all people--not just for Christians--I do not restrict on any of these categories --except I do not marry same-sex couples.

Jack said...

A related question i have faced is who will i be willing to dedicate as a baby. i have parents in my area (upstate NY) who never attend church, never plan to, but who think they ought "to have the child done"-- i will not dedite children if the parents will not seriously make the commitment in the ritual.

Christy Hontz Lipscomb said...

Those are the easy ones. There are tough ones. Dave Ward makes a comment in his eHow article about premarital counseling that often people are looking to the pastor to sort of authorize the marriage/looking for pastoral approval (those weren't his exact words--his were better). That thought has been helpful to me to think about the seriousness of my role as officiating pastor.

When I've had serious questions about the health of an impending marriage, we have sometimes stretched out the premarital counseling process. (This has typically been for people who've been in a rush to be married.) Often the relationship crumbles before the counseling ever begins.

Keith Drury said...

CHAP: Thank you for your thorough outlining of your policy…it will help younger ministers think through their own policy. Thank you for your time invested into others!

JACK: Good thought—this is a broader matter applying to other rituals and services too… I suppose most all ministers will do a funeral for any person, but dedication of children does involve a vow of sorts.

CHRISTY: Excellent thought—I suspect you and Dave Ward are correct…they are looking for approval and performing the wedding, dedication, whatever does give an implied approval. The idea of stretching the counseling is a clever idea too.

TO THE REST OF YOU: More then 600 people read this article so far this week… I just wish some of you lurkers (especially those who have lurked every week here for ten years without commenting) will some day ante up and contribute to the lives of others by commenting some week. ;-)

Pete Vecchi said...

I believe that this is one of those areas where each Christian person should follow as he or she is led by the Holy Spirit on an individual basis. I would generally tend to agree with some of the items on Keith's list, and generally disagree with others. To me, this is one of those areas that is much less "black and white" than it is different shades of gray. I used to be much more strict on this issue, until I realized that my strictness was tending to demonstrate legalism more than the Grace of Jesus.

If each individual Christian minister would pray about each individual couple in each circumstance and let the Holy Spirit lead, that minister might be surprised that the answer as to what to do with two different couples in two similar circumstances might be different--because God knows each person and each couple individually.

The longer I have lived and been a Christian, the more I have found this principle to hold true, not only with marriage, but with other issues as well.

Keith Drury said...

Thanks Pete for your insights... now that is an interesting thought... to ask how many pastors have CHANGED their policy in any way in the last 20 years... hmmmmmmmmm

Carl said...

I regret not doing more to make sure I was comfortable officiating. This is helpful for the future.

Kevin Murrell said...

I find myself leaning more toward Chap's point of view. Though I have only performed 1 wedding and have another to perform in June. Similar situations. Neither attended any church in recent past. One requirement I have is that they must attend our church. First couple is attending quite regular now even after a number of months since the wedding.

One NO that may or may not be theological or doctrinal but more family and marital; say NO if the wedding date is scheduled during your vaction or some other important date. Take care of your family.

Norman said...

First of all, it is important for each pastor/church to have a policy on performing marriages, especially in this age of litigation. A policy will help protect you as well as guide your decision making.

Having said that, I have to ask couples who are living together (and who claim to be Christians) on what basis will they make their vow before God. If they are currently living in a situation that clearly dishonors God then what strength is there in any vows they make since they are not adhering to God's command in the first place.

As for the statement that Anonymous made, "if a man takes a woman into his tent does that constitute marriage in the eyes of God even though no physical/public ceremony was performed" - I'd like to hear others comments on that. When/where did a "ceremony" originate? Why is it necessary? Why can't two people go off on their own and consider themselves married? (Not that I'm supporting this, just re-asking the question).

_ said...

Okay Coach,
I gotta ask... why not two unbelievers?? If people are trying to do the right thing then why not? This seems, tantamount, in my opinion, to not wanting unbelievers to participate in charitable giving or tithing- the right thing is the right thing regardless of who is doing it.

Keith Drury said...

It isn't my list--just a list of the sample things others have and I asked what YOUR list was...

As for me I marry people because I believe marriage is an institution like governement that was established by God..BUT some ministers won't perform some of these weddings... and I was interested in their policy for the sake of new graduates... (though I got few posted as you can see ;-)