Over the past 25 years, I have officiated 129 weddings for New Life members. We have always had weddings every year, but the number will most likely increase as the years go by. This is a good sign because it means New Life is getting older and younger at the same time. We have close to 100 college students, but we also have that many members in each age bracket, those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. In just a few years, we will also have that many in their 50s and older.
Here, I would like to address two things that are related to weddings. One is the size of the diamonds in your engagement rings, and the other is serving alcohol during your wedding receptions.
Over the years, I have noticed that the size of diamonds in your engagement rings is getting bigger and bigger. And I am honestly concerned about that as your pastor. I have always practiced and preached downward mobility. The reason why I do this, and I want all of us to do this, is because if we do not, there is no limit as to how far we will go in pursuing the things of this world. That is why as far as the car is concerned, I have publicly declared that I will not go beyond Honda Accord or something like it. I have the means to purchase something that is fancier and more expensive, but I will not.
It is not a sin to give and receive a diamond ring that is big. We have the freedom in Christ to do this. However, we are not living in a vacuum alone by ourselves. We live with others in today’s particular culture. If our culture is biblical, then we praise God for it and live our lives according to the customs of our culture. However, if our culture is unbiblical, then we are called to live a countercultural life.
“2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
People in this world pursue materialism. And they value outward adornment made up of expensive jewelry, name-brand clothes, and fancy gadgets. We are Christ-followers. We follow Christ and His ways.
Furthermore, we must realize that New Life has all kinds of people, ethnically, educationally, and socioeconomically. Therefore, we must do our best not to cause others to stumble or make them feel small or insignificant by the words we say, things we do, and lifestyle we pursue. No one will stumble if we give and receive a small diamond ring. But some will be pressured, envious or discouraged if we give and receive a big diamond ring because they just cannot do the same. We must be considerate of others.
Therefore, I suggest that we give and receive an engagement ring that has less than a carat of diamond on it. It would be awesome if New Life is known as “Less than a carat church.”
The same principle applies to serving alcohol during wedding receptions. In recent times, I preached and talked about what I am convinced of and believe about New Life members drinking hard liquor or cocktails in public. Again, if we consume alcohol in moderation, there is no harm done though it is hard for me to imagine our Lord Jesus drinking hard liquor or cocktails and telling people it is okay to drink these as long as we do not get drunk.
Knowing our culture, I have come to accept the reality that people do not get stumbled when they see Christians drinking a glass of wine or beer. But some, both inside the church and outside the church, will stumble when they see us drinking hard liquor or mixed drinks. That is why I wrote in the past that if you want New Life pastors to officiate your wedding, you must limit alcohol serving just to beer and wine. Furthermore, I also said that if you are serving in a ministry and you are unwilling to give up consuming hard liquor or mixed drinks, then you have the freedom to do that. You just need to step down and relinquish your ministry. Therefore, please abstain yourselves from drinking hard liquor. There is no organization without policies and boundaries. Church is not any different. Our boundary is love which tries its utmost not to stumble anyone, for Christ’s sake.
“23 ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
Love is limiting my own freedom for the sake of others. Let us remember this and do things that will build up and edify others, not tear down or cause others to stumble.
I trust that you will listen and follow your pastor’s instructions on this with a sweet and humble spirit.
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