Brief for a Wedding Sermon Volume 2

Addressing the Bride and Groom

The “St.John's Hobart Presbyterian Church Order of Service for Marriage” describes the sermon as “Words of Counsel – the Minister offers the Bride and Groom a few words of counsel and presents them with a gift of the Bible”.

I (the groom) seem to remember hearing talks at weddings (of Christians) where the minister addressed the bride and groom, commending either the Bible or following God to them in their married life. Perhaps this happened in connection with presenting the Bible to the bride and groom? Anyway I felt it created the impression that somehow the Minister was the true religious one, who believed the Bible and that following God and his ways is good and right, whereas the bride and groom aren't truly committed to God in their own right, but will only believe and remain churchgoers with the constant exhortation, reminding, and encouragement of their pastor. Now, I know that exhortations and encouragement are important parts of the life of the church and the salvation of people including ourselves, however on this occasion, I'd rather sacrifice calling on us to follow God or the Bible in order to avoid re-enforcing the idea that “the church faithful are the product of the power and influence of the institution of the Church” or similar ideas. Although it's true that God may use words of ministers to sustain our faith, it's also true that:

  • the bride and I will stand because God – not you – is able to make us stand

  • We believe the Bible and in the goodness of following God ourselves, and not necessarily any less than you do. We don't necessarily need your (a minister's) encouragement and call to follow God any less than you need ours.

  • I a sense we do believe “in and of ourselves” in that God's spirit is in us and we're new creations, and we don't need anyone to teach us, nor is our faith dependent on any man.

  • You're not an intrusion on the wedding – some vestige of tradition or the historical place of the Church in society. Rather you're there at our invitation with the expectation that in speaking from the Bible and of God, you'll speak to us words we long to hear and be reminded of, and to declare to those present things we would want to say.

  • A minister telling us to believe something doesn't make us believe something – we mostly believe if we can see for ourselves it's true.

Perhaps, if you want to call upon us to follow God or the Bible, then just do it in a way that acknowledges that you're reminding and encouraging us to do what we're already deeply committed to doing.

Richard Dawkins in his “Root of all evil?” TV program for instance had some of the false ideas about why people believe that want to avoid re-enforcing:

The only truth they need is God – God as interpreted for them by their pastor.”

...Believing because you've been told to believe rather than believing because you've looked at the evidence.”

...Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.