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Read Letter

To Marry in Church or Not

Dear Jack, but I thought I had explained this to you before. You’ve written me about it. For clarity let me state it again: it is good to marry in church but it is not compulsory.

And this goes to the heart of the cost of a wedding. You’ve got to be mindful of that. Cut your wedding suit according to your means. Your bride should abide by same injunction on her wedding gown. It’s not the grandiosity of a wedding that makes a successful marriage. I’d rather you have a small wedding and a wonderful marriage, than a grand wedding and a financially pressured marriage. How can you have a grand wedding but no apartment to stay thereafter? Isn’t that crazy?

Let’s go over the details once more. Let’s look at the issues.

Your country has a tripartite wedding architecture. You can end up with three wedding ceremonies. First, you do the court registry wedding, then you do the traditional wedding, then you do the church wedding. You satisfy the claims of aboriginality with the traditional wedding. It is wise to do it because of the cultural convention in your country. It is at this stage you pay “bride price.” In a manner of speaking the biblical Isaac did a traditional wedding. Paid “bride price” to the family of Rebekah – gold! You don’t want someone insulting your wife tomorrow that after all, she wasn’t “properly” wedded. It’s why you do it. Matrimonial cultural norms are potent. You engage such culture with intelligence and respect. God recognises cultures and conventions. The marriage rite is a cultural expression based on local convention.

The truth is, after the traditional wedding you’re technically married. But that comes with a caveat. Note that if you die intestate at that point in time your estate will be administered according to traditional law. Under certain traditional laws, the family owns all of a man’s property at death. That won’t be fair to your bride.

If you don’t see yourself as being regulated by such norms then you must domicile your marriage under civil law. It’s why you go to the Registry and take marriage vows. When you go to the registry, you overwrite your exposure to traditional matrimonial laws. You can’t divorce your wife after that stage unless you go to court. The state assumes jurisdiction over your marriage. You can combine all the stages of traditional wedding into one ceremony. And it need not be big. For witnesses, invite critical family members to the ceremony. Your parents will of course be in attendance. As you have witnesses in the registry system so you have witnesses in the traditional system.

The third and last of the marriage rites for you as a Christian is the “church wedding”. Now some churches are licensed by the State to issue marriage certificates on her behalf. If you attend one of these licensed churches you don’t need to go to the registry. A wedding conducted by such a church constitutes civil law wedding. It’s why some end up with two wedding rites and some with three. It depends on the church you attend. Your traditional marriage and your registry wedding are valid before God. It is not compulsory you marry in church.

There’s a grandness and dreaminess that accompanies church wedding. Many women want this, and that’s okay. But church wedding need not be large. You can marry in your pastor’s office with one or two friends in attendance. The blessing of the pastor is no less potent at a small wedding than at a big wedding. And you don’t have to marry on Saturday, at 10am. You can marry any day of the week, at any time. Morning wedding on a weekday is perfect for small ceremonies. Everybody’s at work! You’ll spend less. If you don’t have much money you can exercise another option: After your small registry wedding you can drive to your pastor’s office to obtain a blessing.

Now, with this tripartite wedding architecture, the question arises as to when marital duties kick in. It all depends on what you regard as your real wedding, what you consider your real marriage date. If the only reason you did traditional wedding is to satisfy aboriginal claims, it means you do not recognise that as your “real” wedding. Therefore marital duties cannot kick in after that. But if what you regard as your “real” wedding is the church wedding, then marital duties can only kick in AFTER the church wedding. This should give you a guide on the sex issue. I know it’s a big question for you and your friends.

If you regard the traditional wedding date as your real wedding date, the question arises why you want a church wedding? Everything after the traditional wedding becomes superfluous. Means you want to live according to traditional law. Just be patient! The difference is just a few days. You’ve waited all these years. Maintain a good conscience before God.

As to the prophecy truncating your friend’s wedding AFTER the traditional marriage, I’d say it’s a funny prophecy. They ARE already married! Only according to traditional rites. He shouldn’t allow anyone put fear in him. Prophecy in the New Testament is for strengthening, comfort and encouragement. It is not fear mongering. (1 Corinthians 14:3). As it is now he has to exercise radical faith to overcome the fear inserted into their union. Anything untoward in that marriage will be deemed attributable to a violation of the so-called prophecy. The Bible says to judge all prophecies. So he should judge the prophecy as to whether it’s of God. Not all prophecies are of God. And you know it’s of God if it conforms to the standard of the Word of God. For example, is this “prophecy” encouraging? It doesn’t matter who prophesies, judge the prophecy according to the standards of the Word of God.

Now, to be honest with you I’d rather you put more resources into your marriage than your wedding. I’d rather you aggregate the money you’d otherwise have spent on a big wedding and buy yourself a good car. After we’ve eaten your rice and drunk your wine we’ll all go home and pass it all out. Then comes your marriage. If you have the means for a grandiose wedding go ahead. But if you don’t, don’t do more than your means. I assume that you and your fiancée are sincere with each other. Take a sincere decision on your wedding. I hope this helps.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

Tags : church wedding, traditional marriage

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