Sunday, 23 September 2012


A Christian wedding ceremony, including Jesus Fellowship’s order of service, reflects much of the church’s understanding of the meaning and purpose of marriage.
  1. The present matrimony ceremony traces back to 1753.  The legal lines are very brief: “I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I [full name] may not be joined in matrimony to [full name]”; and “I, [full name], take you, [full name], to be my wedded wife/husband”.  All the rest about sickness and health, submitting, ‘who gives..?’, and rings, is embellishment.
  2. That’s not to say it’s not important.  Contained in the expanded lines is an invitation to make wider (public) vows before the gathered people.  Some believer see “forsaking all others, keep only to her/him, as long as you both shall live”, and “Whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder”, as sufficient grounds for Christians never to divorce, and certainly never to remarry.
  3. Similarly, the preamble “marriage is ordained by God as a sacrament for the strengthening of godly society, through the uniting of a Christian man and a Christian woman, for the conceiving of children, and that families may be trained in the discipline and nurture of the Lord” is an absolute in church practice.  Note the illegitimacy implications, and there are also proscribed close-family relationships.
  4. In many parts of the world, family breakdown will lead to destitution from abandonment.  So Christians take a very firm line in commitment and testimony within the traditional teaching.  A Multiply brother commented on his nation’s recent divorce provisions, “The law is for unbelievers”.
  5. We can only pick our way through this legal, social, moral, spiritual and life-affecting landscape with careful openness to the Holy Spirit’s teaching and mutual brotherly support.

So, what’s this about?  “New manhood, new family, new society, new culture” was recently quoted.  Nothing brings tension between the old (creative order) and the new (redemption order) like marriage and family.
MATTHEW 19:4  "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,' 5 and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' ?  6 So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Jesus Fellowship Pastoral Guidelines:  Formal counselling and prayer may be necessary and helpful in certain situation….special events – e.g. marriage.


Reasons for Marriage.  The Bible reveals several reasons why God established marriage.  They include:

Companionship - marriage allows love to be expressed in a uniquely intimate relationship.

GENESIS 2:23  The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman,' for she was taken out of man."

Ministry - marriage partners may accomplish together what they could not separately.

ACTS 18:26  He [Apollos ] began to speak boldly in the synagogue.  When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
ROMANS 16:3  Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.  4 They risked their lives for me.  Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.

Holiness - marriage enables human sexuality to find godly expression.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:8  Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.  9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Children - marriage provides God’s chosen framework for producing and raising children should He choose to “open the womb”.

GENESIS 1:28  God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. 
1 SAMUEL 1:19  and the LORD remembered her.  20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son.

Stability - family life is part of God’s ‘common grace’ to society.

EPHESIANS 3:14  For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,


Am I ready?  Relating procedures/Guidelines issued for the guidance of pastor-elders, state that before starting relating, the brother (there’s equivalent guidance for sisters) should:
Be of a mature outlook and of reasonable age and spiritual maturity to fulfill the responsibilities that a wife and family would bring
Have a positive Kingdom attitude to the reasons for marriage.  Not be seeking the end of any insecurities by marrying.  Not simply be driven by uncontrolled passions or thoughts.  Have a manly soul that can move in authority.
Not knowingly have physical, or psychological problems or difficulties with sexual orientation that would prevent the consummation of the marriage.  Any confusion here needs to be shared plainly in confidence.  If he has any problems suggesting infertility then he will be happy for the sister with whom he is relating to be made aware of this, and if she is unwilling to accept the possibility of infertility, to accept the calling off of the relating.
Have given due consideration to the call to celibacy in the terms of the teaching of Jesus recorded in Matthew 19, without finding a witness or a gifting of grace from God.
Have in mind a sister who is not celibate and whom he finds attractive in body, soul and spirit in as far as he knows her at this stage.  She should be someone whom he considers he will be able to lead on in the Lord and bring strength to.
Share his feelings and calling with, say, at least two trusted brothers, including his pastor-elder, and listen to their wisdom as to the timing of beginning a relating approach.  The senior leader responsible for his church household may be involved also.
Move in faith in seeking the will of God and not be driven by unbelief to make secret, furtive advances to a sister.
Be ready to accept and practice the principles of our relating tradition within community (style 3 members).  If another membership style, agree with all concerned what principles and practicalities they will follow, for a godly and honourable courtship that brothers and sisters in the Church can commend.


Weddings.  Arrangements for all weddings at any licensed Jesus Fellowship building must be authorised and controlled by the Church through its senior leaders and must be within the ethos and traditions of the Church.
Jesus Fellowship weddings are noted for their simplicity and absence of hype, with ordinary clothes (plus Jesus Army identification – Jesus Army jackets are very acceptable!).  They should be spiritual and radical with no middle class trappings or natural family domination.  They are occasions when Zion is in charge and therefore centre on the Kingdom and covenant.
Where possible, they will be double weddings, to emphasise sharing, brotherhood and equality and opposing independence.  Willingness for this is a condition for having weddings in any of our buildings.
In particular they are seen as ‘marriages for the cause’, that is, marriages in the will of God to bring grace to the couple and provide extra strength and gifts for the Church and the Kingdom.
Beware of frivolity, levity.  There should be a ‘joy of Jesus’ permeating the proceedings, but the Spirit is easily grieved on such occasions.  It is a godly Zion occasion and must not be dominated by worldliness or family pressures.  Make sure there are no wedding ‘trappings’ such as confetti, white ribbons on cars, or cars with balloons or ‘boots’ etc.  There is a great need today for weddings to be a serious Christian witness.
In the Lord Jesus we know nothing of ‘stag’ or ‘hen’ nights.  If a group of friends want to meet with Bride or Bridegroom on the previous evening for prayer and worship that, of course, is good.


Application  A recent week’s Agape study new testament chapter contains the following:
1 PETER 3:1  Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes.  4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.  They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.  You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.  7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

·       Jesus said his disciples should be salty: which point or phrase from the quotations above, most struck you? 
·       We have corporate responsibility to safeguard God’s best.  Where could you help?  Where do you need help?
·       Jesus Fellowship will readily bless couples who only had a civic ceremony.  Would renewing vows help you?

Scripture quotes from the New International Version.
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