|Vol. 13 No. 1 January 2011||
Wedding Ceremony in
the Church Building
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Please, I need to know the expediency implications or how the Bible views conducting a wedding ceremony in church building for two Christian brother and sister who want to get married. Is it wrong to conduct the wedding in the church meeting place? Thank you. Pls this is urgent as it is tearing the church here apart. ~ Bro. OMODARA O.S., Nigeria
Church buildings did not exist in the first century when and after the Lord’s church began. “Unlike congregations today, these people had no buildings that were set aside for worship and fellowship. Believers would meet in different homes, worshiping the Lord, listening to teaching, and seeking to win the lost (see Acts 2:46). Paul referred to a number of ‘house fellowships’ when he greeted the saints in Rome (Rom 16:5, 10-11, 14)” (Bible Exposition Commentary). The earliest ownership of church property dates to after A.D. 220 (McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia). Furthermore, “[t]he period of church building properly begins with Constantine the Great. After Christianity was acknowledged by the state, and empowered to hold property, it raised houses of worship in all parts of the Roman empire” (Schaff’s History of the Church). The Edict of Milan in A.D. 313 in the reign of Constantine extended religious tolerance throughout the Roman Empire.
Since church buildings did not exist when the New Testament was written or contemporary with the establishment of the church and the early history of the Lord’s church, the use of church buildings is not a doctrinal issue. One cannot turn to the New Testament for God-given instruction regarding the use of a meeting place for the God’s New Testament people. The early church met in homes or in public places.
That the Lord’s church is obligated to assemble for worship can be firmly established in the New Testament (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Hebrews 10:25). This obligation to assemble implies and Christians rightly infer that these assemblies must occur someplace. Through this divine implication and necessary inference, local congregations can choose the place of assembly. Subsequently, for centuries churches of Christ have opted frequently to provide a place of assembly through church ownership of property. A local congregation can decide through its leadership (elders in fully organized churches) on the best practices for preservation of the meetinghouse to ensure that it is available for the assembling of the church. However, no one can successfully appeal to Scripture for regulations of how to use or not use the meetinghouse.
The cause of Christ is too important, and souls are too precious, for brethren to divide over issues that are not doctrinal in nature. Brethren need to be gracious toward especially brethren (Romans 14:19; Galatians 5:14-15; James 3:14-18). Brethren need to suffer wrong if necessary to prevent harm from coming to the Lord’s church and its influence in the community (1 Corinthians 6:4-7).
It is not doctrinally wrong to have a wedding in a church building. Whether brethren permit weddings or other activities (that are not sinful) to occur in their church buildings is a matter of personal judgment by a local congregation. It is not a matter over which brethren ought to become divisive.
Bible Exposition Commentary. CD-ROM. Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1989.
McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Schaff’s History of the Church. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Dear Brother Louis, I have looked at some of your articles in the Gospel Gazette and can’t refrain from making a few comments in response to statements made. “A fundamental biblical teaching that is essential to properly understanding Christianity is that the Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament (Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:11-13; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:13). Since the inception of Christianity, it has been futile to appeal to the Old Testament (Judaism) for instruction in religion (2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 2:16; 3:10-11).” This ignores the fact that most of the New Testament was not available until more than 15 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. …So the Old Testament was the only Scriptures available to the early apostles. It was from those Scriptures that Jesus taught about himself on the road to Emaus, and it was from those scriptures that the first Christian sermons were preached by Peter and Stephen. The Gospels refer repeatedly to the Old Testament and the Epistles quote extensively from them. …Paul who often quoted from the Old Testament wrote (about A.D. 66 before the new testament was complete) to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Tim 3:16. …Yours in Christ, Paul McMillan
The sole reason the writer above refuses to accept the New Testament passages that teach the Old Testament has been superseded by the New Testament is his conviction that the Sabbath Day rather than the first day of the week is the day on which today that God expects to be worshipped. He cannot and does not attempt to exegete the New Testament passages that plainly teach that people living today have been “delivered from the Law,” that the Law was “done away,” “abolished,” ‘blotted out’ and ‘vanished away.’ He has no use for the animal sacrifices and numerous inconvenient instructions characteristic of Judaism that neither he nor anyone else practices today, but he does favor (sincerely, no doubt) keeping the Jewish Sabbath (in part, at least) in the Christian Age. I expect that he travels more than a Sabbath Day’s journey (less than a mile) on the Sabbath (Saturday).
The apostle Paul rebuked Christians in the Roman province of Galatia for trusting in the Law of Moses or Old Testament in the Christian Era. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith’” (Galatians 3:10-11). “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4-5).
Our Friend ignores the fact that the apostles and other miraculously assisted preachers and teachers of the first century presented new revelation of divine origin orally and through their writings. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Ephesians 4:11-14; see also 1 Corinthians 12:28). These preachers and teachers were assisted by miraculous revelation while the New Testament was in the process of being written and collected together. After the New Testament was written and assembled – long before any later church councils passed judgment on the biblical canon to recognize it, miraculous revelation was no longer needed, and it ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Ephesians 4:11-14, “till”).
Jesus lived and died under the period of Judaism, before the establishment of the church and before the writing of the New Testament. That our Lord appealed to the prophetic Old Testament Scriptures is no surprise and as it should be.
Yes, the apostles appealed to the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and fulfilled in the establishment of the church. The Old Testament prophecies are internal evidence to the validity of the Bible, the authenticity of the Messiah and the genuineness of the church. However, the inspired apostles were not limited to using the Old Testament Scriptures since they were recipients and preachers of new revelation (the New Testament) from Christ (Galatians 1:11).
Though the Old Testament is not the law of God now binding upon humanity, it has not been annihilated – made as though it never existed. Jesus did not come to “destroy” the Old Law, but He did come to “fulfill” it (Matthew 5:17). Yes, it has been taken out of the way (2 Corinthians 3:11) or “abolished” (Ephesians 2:15), but it has not been destroyed. The Old Testament is the foundation on which the New Testament rests. Certainly, the principles of the Old Testament in many cases also supplement New Testament teachings (Romans 15:4). The Old Testament played and continues to play a significant role in its relationship to the New Testament (2 Timothy 3:16-17). However, the role of Judaism in relationship to Christianity is similar to the role of Patriarchy in relationship to Judaism when it was instituted.
Forasmuch as Israelites were amenable to Judaism after its institution and not to Patriarchy, though there were similarities between the two, likewise, Christians are amenable to Christianity (the New Testament) and not to either Judaism or Patriarchy, despite some similarities. The dissimilarities, though, between Patriarchy and Judaism as well as between Judaism and Christianity are insurmountable – unless one acknowledges that Scripture distinguishes between Patriarchy, Judaism and Christianity.