Reminder: The wedding ceremony is a sacred, solemn, worship service
Every now and then, I need to remind readers that the wedding ceremony is a sacred solemn, worship service. It does not matter whether the ceremony is being conducted on the beach, in a garden, in the ocean or in a sanctuary, the ceremony is a sacred one. For those of us who believe that God is the creator of marriage, this is an important point to adhere to.
I wrote about this topic several years ago and once more need to share some of the things I said then because they are worth repeating. Here are some excerpts: “I think that we have forgotten that the wedding ceremony is a solemn worship service and not a concert of romanticized love songs and lewd or frivolous jokes. Non-religious music sung at many weddings, although oftentimes beautiful, does not place God as the foundation of the love relationship between the soon-to-be husband and wife.
“No wonder so many marriages are going down the drain. Instead of God’s love, it is some romanticized love that inevitably fades in time. God’s love is eternal. This is not to say that a husband and wife’s love for each other will not be tested during the life of the marriage. It is to say that marriage is sacred and holy, and it is God’s divine love that helps the couple to make it through the rough times – not Kenny G.”
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find wedding ceremonies free of pre-recorded secular music. A bride and groom seem to select their music based on how nice it sounds and how it makes them feel. Several years ago, I was shocked as I watched a bride march down the aisle to one of Kenny G’s sensually loaded songs. We need to keep Kenny G out of the sacred wedding ceremony. When selecting music for weddings, it should be done with care and discrimination. One should look for the texts that extol God’s love displayed through Christ, the foundation of marriage. The music should express God’s blessing on marriage. We should avoid any songs that promote romanticized or secular ideas about love. These detract from the worship of God.
“Instead of hearing ‘O Perfect Love’ at weddings, or the simple ‘Bridal March,, we are now hearing ‘Can I Have This Dance’, ‘Innocent’ or ‘Tonight I Celebrate my Love’.”
One of the reasons we have such problems with wedding music selection is that too many wedding coordinators and church pastors know nothing about the importance of this sacred ceremony and the role of music in it. For many, once the word love is used in the song, it seems to be the passport for church wedding acceptance. Many wedding coordinators actually scorn the use of simple traditional hymns saying they are boring, dead or old-fashioned.
When was the last time you heard “Jesu Joy of Man Desiring”, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” or the “Trumpet Tune in D Major” by Purcell at a wedding? Oops! Did I say something wrong?
There is a place for beautiful, well-written secular songs. It is at the wedding reception. However, these songs should also present the Christian views of love and marriage.
The wedding dress
Why is it we have to wonder whether we are attending a strip joint rather than a church wedding ceremony when we look at the clothing the bridal party is wearing? The dresses designed for the bridesmaids are becoming more and more revealing. Even in churches that were once known to be conservative, bridesmaids are walking down the aisle almost topless (a little exaggeration to emphasize the point) – deep neck cuts, spaghetti straps, thigh-high splits, and extremely low back lines, are common at wedding these days. Sometimes even the choice of colors and materials give competition to Junkanoo. Sometimes the bridesmaids’ dresses are so tight and short it becomes a distraction and not an attraction.
Why is it that the more formal the occasion, the less clothing women wear? Principles of modesty should always be maintained at wedding ceremonies. Women are doing themselves a dishonor and disservice when they expose so much of their bodies. They are only selling themselves as cheap sex objects. Even the color and design of the men’s suits must be influenced by Christian modesty and decency.
Some of you would remember what I wrote several years ago on this subject and it is worth repeating. “Why should I be examining the backs of women when they march down the aisle? Is it that they want me to see that their back is pimple-free, or that their last suntan covered their entire body?
Why it is that the groom is usually fully clad and the bride partially naked? For too many centuries, women have been treated as sex objects. Today’s modern Christian woman is not even trying to change that concept. It seems as if she is leading the way in total body exposure. Please dear women, I’m not interested in knowing how beautiful your back is, or the size of your bra when I attend a wedding ceremony. Keep your body covered as you go to praise the Lord. Make the wedding ceremony a time of worship and celebration of God’s love in the marriage relationship.
What type of music should we use at the wedding ceremony? There are at least two ways to decide what music is appropriate for the wedding ceremony. The music should speak of God’s love displayed through Christ. The words should not only talk about a romantic encounter between two individuals, but more importantly a spiritual relationship between God and the couple.
In addition to the sacred words, we can determine if the music is appropriate by the way it is generally used and accepted in society and how it is written. There are many lovely tunes that are well written but are commonly used to extol romantic love. They are most accepted in the secular realm and not the sacred.
These tunes should be left out of the sacred worship service. The wedding reception is the place where romantic tunes are appropriate. However, music at a Christian wedding reception should speak about the true meaning of love and marriage. Even classical music should reflect sacredness in the wedding service. Some classical music pieces are not suited to worship God.
• Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas; or visit www.soencouragement.org; or call 242-327-1980, or 242-477-4002.