To be able to understand this, we must note that whatever we do in Churches today as “Christian wedding” has no scriptural backing as Jesus never required believers to be joined together by Pastors nor by certain rituals and stereotype readings. If we should get down to certain traditions in Church like the “Church marriage traditions” we will only realize that those aren’t truly Christian traditions but borrowed western traditions which got incorporated into the Church systems.
I am not saying people shouldn’t wed in Church, I am not fighting what we call “Church wedding” but I am carefully trying to point us to the truth. There is no rules set out for believers when it comes to marriage which means “we can give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser” by following the legal procedures of where we live if we deem it fit for ourselves.
Just the same way there is nothing like Christian banking, there isn’t anything like Christian wedding. After those “Church weddings” you are still issued certificates from the registry. Any Church marriage certificate that isn’t from the registry is not recognized anywhere except in that Church.
Marriage is God’s design for all men and not just Christians! That is why Paul recognized even marriages done between believers and unbelievers (1 Corinthians 7:14).
The first place we saw the concept of marriage is in Genesis 2:24 where the Bible says
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Before this statement, Adam has confessed Eve as the bone of his bone and the flesh of his flesh! Marriage isn’t a Christian practice, it is a human practice just as giving birth isn’t a Christian practice.
Christianity didn’t come to create rules, Jesus came to give us life that we might have that life in abundance (John 10:10)! This life is Spiritual and in the fullness of this life the only marriage that will exist is that of us and God (Matthew 22:30)!
The purpose of earthly marriage is solely for this earth and it is a shadow of our union with God!
Because God handed this world over to human to subdue it and rule over it, men can actually design systems of operation! The fall of man and allegiance to the devil only caused the devil to take advantage of man’s ability to create modes of operation in establishing systems that aren’t consistent with the word of God.
Polygamy for instance isn’t God’s design but a display of man’s lack of contentment. What happens to us as Christians is that we are set free from darkness into God’s marvelous life and therefore we can know what God’s purpose is and start implementing it.
God never instructed us to build a house but we know we need a house and we build a house! God never instructed us on certain things we do but we do them because we know it is needed for our survival. In the same manner, God didn’t instruct us on rites of marriage!
God doesn’t recognize marriage based on ceremonies and traditions of men, men may recognize marriage that way but God doesn’t see like men. God intends marriage to be simple and straightforward but men always come in with their own complexities!
Rules of men are subject to change, rules of men can be argued because men set these rules on what they think is working only to go further and realize that it needs readjustment. There is nothing ever designed by man that has never been subject to change!
In the Bible we keep seeing and reading of marriages! We even know Joseph married Mary but there was no details of ceremony! We saw a wedding reception in Cana but there was no details and there is no direct command from the Bible on how weddings should be done!
We always see people pick a wife for themselves but we don’t hear of the kind of obligations we see today which have wounded the fabrics of marriage in this age.
If it is anything worth noting, the only place we see a little description is in the Apocrypha, the Book of Tobit 7:12-14 which says
“Then Raguel summoned his daughter Sarah. When she came to him he took her by the hand and gave her to Tobias, saying, ‘Take her to be your wife in accordance with the law and decree written in the book of Moses. Take her and bring her safely to your father. And may the God of heaven prosper your journey with his peace.’ Then he called her mother and told her to bring writing material; and he wrote out a copy of a marriage contract, to the effect that he gave her to him as wife according to the decree of the law of Moses. Then they began to eat and drink.”
While we many not try building doctrines from the Apocrypha, we can find historical practices there! I am not arguing that even the historical practices indicates God’s perfect design but we can see the simplicity of marriage ceremonies!
What we saw there is still at odds with what we see now! In that scene, a father placed the hand of her daughter on the hand of her husband and he wrote a contract of marriage.
In the Olden days, getting married in Igbo communities wasn’t as complex as it is now. Paying the required bride price was enough and those bride prices weren’t outrageous, they were just commitments men do to show their commitment and seriousness but these days while some may still truly adhere to the simplicity of marriage, several others make so many unnecessary demands.
God didn’t attach any ceremony to marriage because it is not God’s desire that we spend a fortune for a journey that is supposed to be an enlargement of purpose. In the Bible, the consent of a woman’s father is enough for marriage! But today, things are evolving, we are becoming more sophisticated with everything, wanting to make a noise of everything and seeing a consistent decline in the purpose of things God designed for us!
There are people who desire weddings just for the momentary celebration of it where they are adorned as celebrities but at the end they find out it is not about the glitters.
What God honours in marriage is the agreement and not the traditions! It is in the agreement that the man and woman is joined together! God doesn’t join you together on the wedding day but on the day you both reached that agreement to become one in marriage!
Your wedding day is the ceremonial public testimony of your union just like Baptism is the public ceremonial testimony of your death and resurrection with Christ which doesn’t demand ceremonies.
The reason why I said there isn’t anything like Christian marriage is not that we cannot practice Christian principles in marriage but because many believers want to think a Christian marriage is that which is officiated by a Pastor but no, a Christian marriage if it must be defined is that marriage where the couples are Christians. God’s recognition of marriage isn’t based on the flamboyant ceremonies and stereotyped practices!
Originally, marriage is an agreement recognized by both families of the couples in which the couples begin to live together to build their own world.
Until 1563, the Catholic Church never required priests to officiate marriage. Same would be said of other denominations and we can see that what has become marriage laws today religiously and traditionally are just inventions to keep us accountable to religion or traditions.
They do not represent God’s design or even God’s desire! The Biblical kind of marriage that we see in the Bible has been very simple marriages that looked customarily than religious. These days, customary marriage in certain areas are adulterated and full of greed on display! Customary marriages doesn’t even showcase God’s design of one man, one wife!
Statutory marriage; that which is done in the registry is the ONLY type of marriage today that stands close to the moral standards of the Bible as regards to marriage with regards to the New Testament understanding of marriage to be monogamy. It is just two persons who have agreed to stay together forever with the consent of witnesses and a public testimony that says “this woman or man is exclusively mine!”
Search the entire Bible, there was no where the job description of ministers includes wedding people! Pastor can bless a marriage, that’s fine! You can seek the blessings of your Church leader in marriage but never think that is what makes it “Christian marriage” just like a Pastor praying for a new baby doesn’t make it “Child dedication.”
To dedicate your child to God means to bring up that Child to be totally committed to God! That Child is only dedicated by you not by a Pastor. What we do in Church as “Child dedication” is merely ceremonial! True Child dedication means training your child in the way he or she should go!
These days some Church organisations even require you must fulfil customary laws of marriage before you could wed in Church. If you need to fulfil customary obligations why not just go for customary marriage and rest? Why have two versions of marriage ceremony?
Now, what am I saying? That we should ignore customary and religious marital obligations? No, I am not saying that we write them off, I am saying that we chose what we want to do, knowing the implications and what all of those practices represent. We cannot force our opinion down your throat, we are just pointing you to the truth!
Although customary and religious laws served a very good purpose at its time it have always been hijacked by greed and ignorance! People are “legally scammed” off their resources and women are denied a lot of their rights and privileges! In some part of Nigeria, to marry a woman will require buying so many expensive properties for her parents and this often end up making those girls marry who can afford it instead of who can truly love them.
So, my concern isn’t to advocated for a boycott of all of those old practices but to create awareness that you actually have options at hand, options that God doesn’t frown at, options that even represents better what is obtainable from the beginning of human history before sin was introduced.
Because rules are made by men, rules aren’t perfect! Whatever your choice is, your pocket will also be affected. Men may frown at you for deciding to break the status quo but this is about you and your future which they aren’t part of.
After my short online survey, I discovered a lot of people make a big deal out of weddings! Many were of the opinion that the minimum amount one could spend for a wedding is one million naira! Just for a wedding? How about America where an average wedding may cost $33,000! Isn’t it outrageous? When you check what those costs are for, it doesn’t add up to anything meaningful.
Yes, it should be your happy day but you must also have sense! People make these outrageous spending because people want to satisfy relatives, traditions and religious obligations! We must come to that understanding that wedding is not marriage, marriage is the life after wedding and after all the big weddings, the issues of marriage remains.
Wedding is not a ground where you satisfy just everybody, it is not a ground where you feed the nation, it is not a ground where you do what the people want, it is just a common ground where you testify to the public that you are married.
You don’t have to imitate very rich couples who see a million dollars as a hundred dollar. Every coat comes in sizes and you purchase according to your size. After all, we usually hear stories of all these celebrity weddings winding up!
I have witnessed couples have big weddings and have poor marriages, I have witnessed couples have big weddings and went broke for years! This is why it is important to find what works for you and go for it!
Don’t just dance to the tunes of the public, sometimes question the source of those rhythms and voice out what you believe and how you believe it! Change can’t happen if we know the truth and keep quiet about it.
Just be sure that even if people don’t like your choice of wedding, it doesn’t affect how God sees you and your marriage! Your marriage isn’t recognized by God in the Church building, it is recognized the day you both agree whole heartedly to become husband and wife!
Whether you are wedded “customarily, or statutory” you are married in God’s sight long before you confessed those vows publicly because it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks. If you are part of a denomination and you are capable of fulfilling their obligations, go ahead and do that as long as it doesn’t affect your faith and you are comfortable with it!
If you are part of a religious or traditional system and you are a strong adherent who wants to follow the rules, you’re free to do that! But do not let anyone’s criticism get at you when you decide to do a more very simple registry wedding, do not let anyone make you feel God doesn’t recognize your marriage.
Take my advice; don’t plan your wedding at the expense of your marriage. Few hours of ceremonies will pass and you’ll realize people weren’t interested in your marriage but in the fun of the ceremonies! You actually owe no man any ceremony, there is no better wedding and you aren’t competing with anyone to have the best wedding!
Don’t go for the best wedding, it doesn’t exist! Build a better marriage. When people say things like “if you love her, you will be willing to spend any amount on the wedding” I am just seeing ignorance! While it is okay to do all you can to make a marriage work. Wedding ceremonies isn’t a do or die affair. The most important thing is that you are married!