A Guide for Christian Couples Who Are Planning a Pagan Wedding

ImageAfter the unusually bitter winter that most of our country suffered through, the first hints of spring are a most welcome sight. For students, these are signals that their summer break is right around the corner. For many families, these warmer months will bring a much needed vacation. And for countless couples in love, summer means one thing: they will soon hold hands, gaze into each other’s eyes, and say, before God and their witnesses, “I do.”

Chances are, most of these soon-to-be-wedded couples have been planning this big day for months, perhaps even years. Dresses and shoes, cakes and flowers, invitations and accommodations: detail after detail demands attention and decision-making. If the engaged couple happens to be of a religious nature, specifically Christian, in addition to the general planning required, they might also wonder just how churchly their celebration needs to be. To that end, I offer here some practical suggestions and guiding principles on how Christian couples can, consciously or not, plan a pagan wedding.

If vocal music is to be part of your ceremony, pay close attention to the lyrics. Make sure they express, as eloquently and emotionally as possible, that you are in love, desire one another, and are ready to commit to a lifetime of happiness in one another’s arms. Something like that anyway. Do not select songs that speak of God as the one creating marriage as a gift to humanity, hymns that reflect the marriage of Christ to his bride the church, or anything that praises Jesus as the one whose sacrifice of love on the cross provides the very love by which the love of husband and wife is sustained. In other words, keep your music as secular and worldly as possible.

There are numerous unity rituals that can be incorporated into the ceremony. Perhaps you and your fiancé, or even other members of your family, will pour multicolored sands into a single, unifying container. Or as a variation on this theme, you might use water or marbles of various colors, or stick with the tried-and-true unity candle. All of these drive home the same idea of unity. Whatever you choose will work, just make sure that any words accompanying these ceremonies say nothing of the fact that Christ is the one who is doing the unifying. Make it appear as if you and you alone are joining yourselves to one another, not that God the Father is making you one. Unity by human will and decision: that’s what you want to impress upon yourselves, family, and friends.

Be careful about your selection of a preacher or other officiate. There are pastors out there who still believe that marriage is a divine institution, that husbands and wives are icons of the marriage of Jesus and the church. Unless reined in, these clergy are liable to urge you to use explicitly Christian songs and a traditional Christian liturgy in your ceremony. And they may possibly dare even to preach the Gospel on your wedding day. It’s probably best to hire an interfaith preacher for the day, just to be safe. That way you’re guaranteed the service will offend no one, be he/she Muslim, Jewish, agnostic, atheist, or whatever. The last thing you need is a preacher trying to make sure your wedding is a Christian service, and to that end counseling you on what you need to do on your wedding day.

That brings up the final point I want to make concerning guiding principles. It is your wedding, no one else’s. This day, this ceremony, is all about the two of you. Every decision you make needs to be driven by that fact. This is not a day on which you should be thanking God the Father for the gift of marriage between a man and a woman. This is no time to have a Christian worship service, complete with dignity, reverence, and holiness. Your wedding day is all about you, not Jesus, not his cross, not his love, not his church, but the two of you, who are beginning this life journey together.

If that principle guides you as Christians in your wedding planning, then all the details will work themselves out. You are sure to come up with a ceremony that is thoroughly pagan in nature.

If you do, you are also sure to begin your wedded life together by divorcing Jesus from your marriage.

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13 thoughts on “A Guide for Christian Couples Who Are Planning a Pagan Wedding

  1. Hi, I really enjoy this blog post; nothing beats some good irony mixed with underlying truth and criticism of things that “just feel so good”. I don’t mean to ruin the fun of it but if it’s ok to ask, I have a question. I’m a (Lutheran) Christian and I am also single. There are tons of well-meaning but not-so-comforting/not-so-biblical things that are said regarding the topic of how to get to that wedding day. However, nobody manages to explain whether it is people alone, a God&man-thing or God alone who works when people actually do find each other. Should I just lock my door and wait for God to bring me Prince Charming or should I “get out there”? If so, where is that place “there” which I ought to get to by the way? Praying for a God-fearing spouse has taken some years. zzzzzzzzz 🙂

  2. BJ Knauff on said:

    Wow… This pretty much describes my niece’s wedding. Her minister was found on the internet, the ceremony was at a campus chapel, she didn’t ask any of her aunts to sing — probably because we’d have not agreed with her selection. My brother was a very unhappy father of the bride. If my niece (who was baptized & confirmed LCA/ELCA) had read this though she may have missed the point anyway. Thanks for all your writings. I truly enjoy them.

  3. Amen Chad – I need to get you on Ref. Rush Hr. to talk about this soon.
    I had a related rant last week.

    Start at about 3:15 minutes in.
    http://www.kfuoam.org/2014/04/02/reformation-rush-hour-21/

  4. sigh on said:

    “Pagan” and sarcastic fingering shaking make the self-righteous nod and reminds everyone else why the conservative churches (and the Missouri Synod congregation my parents left) in my hometown are dying. You have great points – I understand them and generally agree – but you’re not changing any minds with this. Christians pat themselves on the back, and everyone else rolls their eyes. No one saved. No one brought to the church. No one shown the love and compassion of Christ.

    • Brent on said:

      we don’t save anyone. All we are suppose to do is tell the truth and God saves whom he wishes. It doesn’t matter who rolls their eyes. What is worse, a nonbeliever rolls their eyes at you or God’s judgment upon you for not standing up for truth?

    • Funny thing is, you’re here reading it which is odd to me. Sigh, there is a difference between self-righteous pharasaiism and truth-telling. I would put this in with the latter. If Chad’s post feels like the former to you, you might ask the question, “Why?” True, your parents former pastor might have been a jerk and might have had some personality points to work on. When last I checked, pastors are sinners too. I just can’t see walking away from truth. Let the eye-rolling begin.

      • sigh on said:

        Revsmith, I read it because I’m always curious what folks have to say. My parents’ former pastor isn’t a jerk at all, but there is not much love left in that church. After years of giving of their time and money, they were worn out. They were embraced by the Episcopal Church my mother grew up in – also imperfect – but with hatred at least tempered during Sunday service.

        I don’t think there is always such a clear line between self-righteous pharisaism and truth-telling, and to clothe the former in the latter won’t fool everyone. I wish the discussion could be elevated, particularly coming from the Christians. Even sinners can communicate effectively and lovingly (and in a Christ-like way?)

    • HEAR! HEAR!!!

  5. Jenny Knutson on said:

    In general I’ve discovered that most Lutheran pastors I’ve met (LCMS, mostly) mirror my thoughts when it comes to the question, “Which would you rather ‘do’ – a wedding or a funeral?” (btw, I’m an organist). Funerals ‘win’, hands down. It’s no surprise that we don’t often do weddings – they have to get through the counseling first. (Nope – our pastor won’t marry them if they aren’t willing to go through pre-marital counseling… and if they do, they may be dismayed that he tells them they aren’t to be living with each other, etc.) I don’t know what it was like in the Lutheran Church 50 years ago, but I wonder if this is one area where pastors are recognizing they are called to be very counter-cultural these days in a world where anything goes, in a country that thinks “Have it your way” is a fundamental right.

  6. Rev. Mark J. Bergen on said:

    Seems a bit too black and white too me. One can celebrate the love of Christ for His people and the love of the couple for one another. One can highlight that God is joining together and that today starts a lifetime of unity (being one flesh). It can be a worship service thanking God for His gifts and a celebration of two people (because God really loves His people and I don’t think he really cares if people love them too.)

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