Who needs a church wedding?

As the church continues to struggle the growth of the Spiritual-but-Nonreligious, Christian Century looks at how this impacts weddings.

Traditionally, weddings have, til lately, been held under religious auspices. But more and more, young couples find themselves only seeking out a church because of family pressures, or ambiance, or some other, ephemeral reason.

The writer of the piece argues that in fact, the church has something positive to offer couples, because we place marriage in the context of the larger Christian faith. Thus, churches shouldn’t be performing weddings as a service, they should be offering weddings as an additional feature.

He explains:

Stanley Hauerwas says that “Christians are required to love one another—even if they are married. That may be a cruel and even heartless demand,” he says, “but it is nonetheless the way things are if you are a Christian.” Not everyone wishes to make so reckless a commitment, and not everyone is ready to. Because of this, the biggest issue related to fewer church weddings is not the loss of the Christian ceremony, but the loss of Christian community. Pastors miss the opportunity to counsel couples who are beginning the hard work of marriage. Churches miss the opportunity to support couples as they begin a life together, and to have their congregation enriched by the couple’s presence. The couples themselves pass up the opportunity to immerse their fledgling marriage in the rhythms and stories of the household of God.

The whole article is here. It’s long, but well worth a read.

What is your policy on weddings at your local parish?

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