Does it make any difference who performs the marriage ceremony? Is it right that our young people should go to a justice of the peace or a minister of any denomination? Here is what young people NEED to know!
A WEDDING is undoubtedly the most delightful event young people experience. It is the moment for which they have waited, perhaps months, or maybe years. You parents experienced the same joys when you were married, didn't you? Mothers, especially, can't keep from the natural desire to live over again their marriages in their daughters. Just ask any husband! Yet with all the joys, anticipations and hopes — as God intended marriage to be — there is also the SERIOUS side of marriage. Responsibility comes with it — financial, emotional, parental and spiritual problems present themselves. Marriage is indeed the most serious physical union in which human beings can be united. But how few understand what is involved before they are married!
World in Confusion
As our church is growing constantly each year, we are confronted with young people who inevitably do as God intended — they want to marry. It thus is becoming one of our great responsibilities to teach and train and prepare our young people who are anticipating marriage. How many of you wish now that you had understood what marriage and life were all about when you were young! The very first principle which all children, and especially young couples planning to marry, should realize is that GOD ORDAINED MARRIAGE. He is the Author of this physical union. It is to Him that we should ultimately look for advice and counsel. He is the One who has explained WHY marriage has been ordained, WHAT its duties are. It is to God that we must go if we are to understand the truth about marriage ceremonies and WHO should perform them. Let's understand what the Bible reveals about this most important union. The world is in confusion. Each State has its own marriage laws. Every denomination has its opinion about what constitutes marriage. But almost no one seems to understand the significance of the Biblical revelation that God is the Author of marriage. Human beings go to human courts of law, they go to representatives of this world — justices of the peace and worldly ministers — to have the marriage ceremony performed. Most everyone believes that some official of this world "binds" husband and wife. Isn't that exactly how most of you were married? Of course, God, recognizing your hearts, did bind you. You were married, but it was God and not man, by the authority of a sovereign State, who bound you till death. But is this the way God intended marriage to be solemnized? Now that you know the TRUTH, would you have the marriage ceremony performed in that manner — contrary to God's will? God has overlooked our past mistakes, but let us teach our children the right way so they won't make the same mistakes.
Is a Ceremony Wrong?
Some people who carelessly read the Bible have arrived at the mistaken notion that all ceremony is wrong. Jesus attended a wedding at which he performed his first miracle — turning water into wine. The church is to be married to Christ at a "marriage supper," — a ceremony. It is a matter of the kind of ceremony that is important. God approves and sanctions ceremony, but not the ritualistic practices that attend worldly social ceremonies which have no other purpose than exciting pride and vanity.
The TRUE Marriage Ceremony
Not every detail in the marriage ceremony is revealed, but we can understand the principles. God was present at the first marriage — He brought Eve to Adam and gave her to be his wife. There was a time of festive rejoicing at the marriage of Jacob (Gen. 29:22). A simple ceremony is absolutely necessary to avoid the evils of fornication, adultery, bigamy and kindred practices that would result without a ceremony. Marriage is a union, involving vows, which is BOUND BY GOD through prayer (Matt. 19:6). It is a setting apart of two young people to become husband and wife. Throughout the Bible, in ceremony, there is the constant example of setting apart for special purpose by PRAYER TO GOD and LAYING ON OF HANDS (Num. 27:18-23; Acts 6:6; 8:18). How plain it is, then, that the marriage ceremony ought to be performed by one who stands as God's representative, since it is God who binds. The ceremony ought to be performed by one whom God hears — one of God's ministers whose prayers God will answer. How foolish to go to some one whom God doesn't hear to have the ceremony performed, and then go to God's minister to ask him for Gods blessing. The true ceremony should be performed by laying on of the minister's hands on the clasped hands of the couple and, through prayer to God, asking God to bind the couple according to His Word (Matt. 19:6). Of course, all legal requirements of the State should be attended to also.
Young People Need Counsel
Before marriage, more than any other time, young people need advice. Most of you who are parents have come to realize this by hard experience. You probably didn't have the kind of counsel you really needed. God did not intend that young people should go to ministers who do not even know the law of God for advice on problems which involve some of the most important spiritual and physical laws which God ordained. But how are young people — perhaps your children — going to receive the proper advice before marrying if they live great distances from God's ministers? How can they have the marriage performed if they can't afford to travel far? Is it fair?
At Annual Festivals
God is always fair. Since He intends his ministers to perform marriages for those who have come to understand the truth, He has provided the way and at no extra cost! God loves our young people, and so He has made the way possible. We who have come to know the truth understand that it is a command to attend the annual festivals. With the Tabernacle being built in Texas at the most central point, man hundreds of you will be able to attend three times a year. Since you are also commanded to save a second tithe anyway in order to attend, it wouldn't be any extra expense to have the marriages of young people occur at the annual festivals! God intended his annual occasions to be times of great joy apart from the world. He wants young people to be free from unnecessary problems as they enter marriage (Deut 24:5). What time could be more appropriate than these holy occasions? It is the perfect solution to encouraging young people in the church not to have such fellowship with the world as would lead to marriage outside of the faith. Yes, what a joy it is to understand the TRUTH!