Good wedding, bad marriage

I love weddings.

To follow a bride and smell the flowers; to watch a groom and witness the kiss; to celebrate a moment and remember your own is a precious moment indeed. In fact, weddings are one of the high points of my profession. So I’ve got nothing against a beautiful ceremony.

But something is wrong.

Take a trip to your nearest bookstore and you’ll find a dazzling display of the most beautiful periodicals related to a couple’s big day. You’ll discover something for the traditional bride, the modern bride, the Martha Stewart bride, and every kind of wedding planner known to man. What you will not find is a magazine called Wife. Or Marriage.

In all of our efforts to create amazing weddings we never learned marriage.

I go to a fitness center where they have a running loop of motivational advertisements to get the clients to stay in shape. I always chuckle at the ads aimed at the engaged woman, encouraging her to get ready for her “big day” so she can fit into her dress. It’s all about the wedding. The ceremony. The special occasion.

Think about the cost of the average wedding. Thousands are spent on flowers and tablecloths and invitations and music and dresses and pictures. The cost of a typical wedding is now approaching the salary of a first year teacher.

We live in a culture where more than half of these couples who marry in pomp and circumstance will dissolve in a bitter divorce court. That same couple that would spend $500 on a bouquet of flowers won’t spend $150 on marriage counseling. The same woman that invested every spare moment of every day for six months in preparation for a wedding, finds herself annoyed at the prospect of dealing with her husband.

It’s all about the wedding.

We have mastered the art of weddings and failed in the art of marriage. We have mastered the big event, but failed in the lifestyle. Ironically, the very wedding that is meant to bless a couple often serves to bring strife, offense, and indebtedness to the couple and families involved.

There is nothing wrong with a wedding, but the real deal is a marriage.  Give me a weak wedding and a strong covenant over a magnificent ceremony and a weak covenant any day.

It reminds me of Christianity. Conversion-experiences are wonderful, but Jesus never said to go make converts; He said go make disciples. That’s the deal. It’s a wonderful thing to go to an event where you experience God. But learning to do everyday life with God – now that’s the deal.

We Christians love the big event; we adore the conference; we spend money on the retreat weekend; we buy the t-shirts and believe the hype: “This event will change your life!”  It’s Monday morning that trips us up. And Tuesday afternoon.  And Friday night.  We invest tremendous resources to create experiences that are absolutely unforgettable. The problem is simply that in our striving to manufacture our events we haven’t seemed to learn to live.

Good wedding, bad marriage.

In all our efforts to make converts and “do church” we forgot to teach people how to make disciples and do life.

So let’s ask the invasive question. Are you making disciples? Is there anybody in your life to whom you could point and say, “Now there is a disciple. That man is becoming a passionate follower of Jesus. That woman is changing her center from self to God. That teenager is learning to live by the words of God.” Take a step back. Are you a disciple? Are you learning the ways of Jesus even in the midst of holidays and finals and challenges at the office? Are the words of Jesus being tattooed on your heart?

Parents, we need you to disciple your kids.

Older men, we need you to disciple the younger men.

Older women, we need you disciple the younger women.

Do you have a strong marriage? We need you to disciple the weaker couples.

Are you a leader? We need you to do more than build your program; we need you to build people.

Let’s go do some marriage.

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