Over the years I have had the privilege of officiating more than 40 weddings. At the time of these weddings, all the couples were affirmed Christ-followers except one where both the bride and the groom were not Christ-followers. The content of my message for that couple was evangelistic and the pronouncement of marriage was by the authority vested in me by the State of Texas, not in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Since there will be many more weddings to come in the future here at New Life, I would like to share with you some guidelines that will be followed. First, I will not officiate any wedding where one is a Christ-follower but the other is not. This is not because Christ-followers are better than unbelievers. It is because God’s word clearly tells us not to. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (2 Cor. 6: 14) And the reason why God is telling Christ-followers not to get into a marriage relationship with unbelievers is because neither of you will be fully fulfilled in marriage as God designed. What does it mean to be a Christ-follower? It means Jesus is your Lord and Savior. He is the one who will be leading and guiding you according to His ways and you will be gladly following Him. Then, who is the Lord and Savior of an unbeliever? It is anything or anyone but Jesus. Therefore, if a believer and an unbeliever get into a marriage relationship there will inevitably be constant conflict and battle because there will be two different lords and loyalties. Not only will the Christ-follower in this situation be miserable, the unbeliever will be as well. A Christian marriage is to be a clear reflection of God’s love and harmony in the Triune Godhead and He enables us to become that. But it is still made up of two sinners who are saved by His grace working on their self-centeredness to live out this beautiful call. A marriage between a believer and an unbeliever will prove to be much more difficult and painful and God wants to save us from that.
Second, every member of New Life who wants to get married either here in Houston or at a far away place will need to go through a pre-marital class. As long as you are a member of New Life, I am responsible for you spiritually before God. When you took the membership class, decided to become a member and went through the membership ceremony on the stage, we went into a covenant relationship with one another as pastor and member that should not be taken lightly. I know there are great pre-marital classes that are offered at other churches using fine materials and I am definitely not against you taking the class from any one of them. However, except for extenuating circumstances I would like to encourage you to take the pre-martial class that New Life offers, making this the primary source and any other class you take elsewhere supplementary. As of now, Lynette teaches the class and she has been doing a great job teaching and counseling the couples in preparation of their marriage.
Third, after going through the pre-marital class here at New Life, unless you must get married at a far away place due to your unique situation where it is difficult for me to go (for example, if a bride is from out of state and the wedding needs to take place there, officiated by her pastor), I will oversee officiating of all the weddings until our church grows to be much bigger. Preparing for a wedding message requires a lot of work. I need to spend time with the couple who is getting married so that the message will be a personal one. I spend much time in prayer to hear God’s message for them impressed on me and write out the message in helpful and memorable ways. It takes many hours to do this but I do it with joy as a calling. In the past, I allowed different people to provide pre-marital teaching and counseling and officiating for New Life members but this is the guideline we will follow from now. It was actually one of the New Life pastors who strongly advised the senior pastor to lead in this way.
At this time I would like to thank the New Life wedding coordinators, led by Chris Jung and Yen Liaw who selflessly spend many hours volunteering in this ministry. It is a great privilege and joy to guide and officiate your weddings and I want to be able to bless you abundantly as you embark on this wonderful journey in creating fulfilling marriages as God designed.
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