I received an inquiry from a church member asking, “Is civil wedding accepted as wedding for a Christian couple. Or is it just wedding in the eyes of the law but not in the eyes of God?” These are some of the questions that need clarification.
Both civil and Christian wedding are legal in the eyes of the law, as long as the one officiating is licensed from our government. I understand that there are also Christian judges who officiate weddings in a Christian way. This is why Christian conviction comes into play in this matter.
As Christians, our decision to go through with either civil or Christian wedding ceremony, should not be based on which is less expensive. But rather on the promptings of the Holy Spirit through the word of God. You will surely grow and “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” through the study of Scripture.
Now, there is a difference in terms of ceremony between a civil and Christian wedding. Let us compare if the things mentioned are present in a civil wedding. Again, I am not saying that you cannot go through a civil wedding ceremony because you can. This is a matter of spiritual conviction.
In a Christian wedding, there is what we call a pre-marriage seminar led by a pastor. Here we study the Scripture as a guide concerning the meaning and purpose of marriage including their God-given roles and responsibility as a husband and a wife. Several things are also being discussed during the meetings like importance of being united as a couple, leaving independently as a couple, financial stewardship, and more. This is where the couple will also know something about raising-up the next generation of God-fearing children. If this is the case, then they will need to understand why observing purity and holiness is important in the eyes of the Lord while waiting.
On the day of the Christian wedding, the minister will explain clearly the meaning of the groom’s action as he takes the bride from her parents, the exchanging of the rings being a symbol of commitment more than emotion, the giving of the coin by the bride to the groom as figurative of the husband being the provider for the family, the veil on the head of the bride as a symbol of submission toward her husband, the veil on the shoulder of the groom symbolizing his headship and love for the wife, and the unity candle that symbolize their harmony, cooperation, and agreement as a married couple, and that whatever God put together let no man separate. There is also an opportunity for the groom and bride to exchange vows toward each other to fulfill God’s divine mandate for a missional marriage with the Lord as their primary witness. And what’s important is the prayer and pronouncement of divine blessings by the Christian pastor towards the couple, with the agreement of their parents, their sponsors, and their witnesses asking the Lord to guide and bless their marriage vow.
I don’t think if all judges will do that during a civil wedding because this ceremony is usually done in the absence of any religious tone unless the judge has a very strong Christian conviction.
I suggest that you avoid rushing the wedding preparation without any form of excellence. The goal is not just to have a good wedding ceremony and sign the marriage contract but to prepare for your marriage life. A wedding ceremony could be so simple with a pastor, the bride and groom, a handful of witnesses holding two rings as symbols inside a small office room, and an official marriage contract. But if you have enough savings then this could be done formally in an excellent place with a good number of guests so many could witness your vow and listen to the sermon message.
I understand that you need to be economically practical but is this what the Lord really wants you to do or what your savings account could only afford? Who dictates your decision? Is it the Lord or your present economic status? Will you believe God for provision and abundance?
Again, do not let your present financial status decide but let the Lord be the God who is able to provide for all your expenses no matter how simple or expensive the wedding ceremony will be. Remember, it’s not about having an expensive or inexpensive wedding but let the Lord’s will prevail. May the Lord guide you both in making the right decision.
Abraham named that place The LORD Will Provide. It is still said today, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” – Genesis 22:14, God’s Word
But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you. “So don’t ever worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34, God’s Word
Many plans are in the human heart, but the advice of the LORD will endure. – Proverbs 19:21, God’s Word