2019 | Week of June 3 | Radio Transcript #1311
If wedding bells aren’t ringing in your ears then you haven’t been watching Hallmark movies recently. While jokes about Hallmark movies abound, I assure you Hallmark and all the actors associated with that company are laughing all the way to the bank! They are making a handsome profit and a pretty penny (excuse the puns, please) off what many would say are formulaic, predictable, and even sappy stories that very frequently go something like this: girl is in a relationship with a man who is either not happy with her or is not what she thought he was. Enter a handsome, eligible man, who eventually either is convinced he loves the girl in question or she is convinced he’s the one. Next enter a problem of some sort that seems to spell the end of the new relationship but that is quickly resolved. Cue the wedding bells.
With June being, at least traditionally, the month when many people have their weddings, Hallmark is devoting the entire month to new movies about weddings and marriage. So, let the jokes fly and say what you will, but I don’t see any other TV production companies supporting marriage like Hallmark does.
What I also don’t see is very many churches promoting marriage as much as Hallmark does. If churches made marriage as big a deal as the Saturday evening Hallmark movies do, I think we just might see an uptick in our marriage numbers. Interestingly, Hallmark rarely if ever features cohabitation—certainly never overtly—but today many churches just kind of wink at cohabitation among their membership.
In fact, a number of years ago I had a Wisconsin pastor of a conservative church tell me that he no longer even counsels people who are cohabiting to separate. He said it was a losing battle, but that he did always encourage them to marry. Wow. Seems to me the church has lost its saltiness on this issue. Importantly, shouldn’t the church at a minimum remind people that unmarried men and women living together and being physically intimate violates God’s commandments and is therefore sin?
When the church is not willing to call sin, sin and to challenge people to live according to God’s standard—for their own good and for His glory—something is drastically wrong.
All of this might explain why I was ecstatic to read recently an online news article from The Christian Broadcasting Network. The headline reads, “Texas Pastor Challenges Cohabiting Couples in His Congregation: Get Married.” They had me right there.
Bryan Carter, senior pastor of Concord Church in Dallas recently, according to the article, “invited ‘cohabiting couples to accept the challenge of stepping into marriage.’” But Pastor Carter didn’t stop with a verbal invite. He offered couples who were interested in taking that step of marriage tangible help—like paying for the weddings, including dresses, tuxedos and rings. For those who were not sure about taking that marriage step, he offered that the church would pay one month’s rent to help couples find suitable and separate living arrangements.
Basically, Pastor Carter gives cohabiting couples three options: take steps leading to marriage, separate living arrangements but continue to date, or break up. In other words, he’s asking cohabiting couples to quit living a sinful life that isn’t good for them and doesn’t glorify God.
Now for those who want to marry, they are given a 90-day window, in which they go through premarital counseling as they plan for the wedding. What Pastor Carter is saying is that he wants the couple to be more concerned and invested in their marriage than their wedding. We know strong premarital counseling, especially when an inventory is used, is basically like marriage insurance, ensuring a marriage will go the distance.
What an incredible investment this church and pastor are making in marriage. Hey, they are rivaling Hallmark in my opinion! Here’s a church that so believes in God’s institution of marriage that they are willing to not just talk about marriage but actually do something about it—calling out cohabitation for what it is, explaining also that it’s really the death-knell for a future marriage, and putting real skin in the game in the form of financial help.
Maybe we don’t need more Hallmark wedding movies but we certainly do need more churches and pastors like this one. God bless them for truly living the Gospel.
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This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”