Would it surprise you to know that weddings have not always looked like they do today? In his book “Blessing Same-Sex Unions,” author Mark Jordan explores the history of the Christian wedding and what it means in modern times, especially in light of the desire of many gay couples to marry.
Common features of the modern Christian wedding like the bride’s white dress and the exchange of rings are not practices that date back to the early church and have little to do with the sacrament of Marriage. The author observes that the most important person presiding over the modern wedding ritual is often not the couple’s priest or pastor, but the wedding planner with wedding theology provided by “Modern Bride” or reality TV. He wonders if the trappings of the wedding ceremony overshadow the reason for getting married and having the couple’s relationship blessed in a religious ceremony.
We live in confusing times where weddings are concerned. When I lived in Hawaii, a popular moneymaker was wedding ceremonies for young Japanese tourists. These couples were already married but wanted to experience the western wedding they had seen on TV or at the movies, complete with the white bridal gown, the words of the modern traditional wedding ritual, and the cake with perhaps some champagne thrown in. Many of these faux weddings took place at local chapels built for this purpose, and a few churches conducted ceremonies as a way to make money. The churches rationalized the practice by saying that these weren’t real weddings but blessing ceremonies. Curiously, blessing the faux wedding of a non-Christian heterosexual couple was apparently okay while blessing the relationship between two Christians of the same sex might be taboo. Confused? I was.
If you’re interested in becoming more informed about the controversial topic of whom should be allowed to marry, “Blessing Same-Sex Unions” can be found in the New Titles section of First Church Library.