What might an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven notice about what goes on before weddings these days?
First, you may have noticed that more and more couples are living together before marriage, even among the children of devout Christians, church workers, and pastors. I’m going to tackle that subject later in August.
Second, you may have noticed that expectations for activities before and after the wedding and high expectations for the wedding itself are increasing beyond belief (“belief” as in beyond “honesty about dependence”). I’ll come back to that one as well.
Third, a particular example of competition for a big experience is the bachelor and now the bachelorette party. Let’s think about this subject right now. As ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven to the culture we live in, can we understand what is going on? Historically, the bachelor party was the last opportunity for a man to enjoy the indulgence of selfish appetites before he took on the yoke of responsibility and sensibility (and chastity) as a husband. In recent times and understandably, women have claimed the right to enjoy the same last fling with the wild and carefree partying of American youth. In my experience, the women have far outpaced the men for planning such an event, now including travel, entertainment, chauffeurs, and much more far beyond the “traditional” bar hopping of a decade or so ago.
Can the kingdom of heaven offer something besides criticism? Absolutely! All souls regenerated in the image of Christ rest on His responsibility for us (the ultimate green V beneath everyone and everything) and such souls are excited to grow into responsibility for others on behalf of Christ. Therefore, the time before a wedding is a time of celebrating what is going to be gained, not lost. Similarly, drinking in the life of the Christian is not to lament or forget, but to remember. A sensible experience of intoxication from alcohol is a small taste and foretaste of the profound, enduring, and intense joy of being a part of God’s caretaking and creative work.
Maybe now is a good time for best men and maids of honor to host pre-wedding celebrations that provide for joy within the context of good stewardship and ambassadorship. Can travel take us to places where God’s creation in nature inspires us as His caretakers? Can celebrations have every guest bring something to eat and to do that conveys support and joy for the groom and bride-to-be? Maybe it’s even time for groomsmen and bridesmaids to collaborate and combine their love and imagination into a single pre-wedding event? The mind and heart of ambassadors for the kingdom of heaven are excited for opportunities and occasions to reinvent our social practices with grace, goodness, caretaking, and joy.