Tag Archives: Christ centered wedding

3 Tips For Planning a Christ-Centered Bachelorette Party

bachelorette party

I am getting a new sister-in-law in less than 10 days! I am thrilled to celebrate the wedding of Shane’s brother Brandon to his high-school sweetheart Taylor. But I have a strange confession: I might be even more pumped for her bachelorette party!

A bride may have many types of pre-wedding parties to celebrate the coming marriage. However, a bachelorette party is rather unique:

The way I see it, a bridal shower sets a bride up for success in the kitchen; a bachelorette party sets a bride up for success in the bedroom (or kitchen, depending how adventurous she wants to be).

Warning: adult content ahead (it totally glorifies Jesus, but it’s not for little readers).

The bachelorette party is my favorite party, in part because we get to celebrate God’s awesome gift to a married woman: sex. It can be a commemoration of purity (or renewed purity) and a launching point for a holy anticipation of pleasure. That’s right, I said a holy anticipation of romantic and sexual pleasure. I believe it is holy, or set apart, because sex within marriage is God’s idea, His gift. When celebrated and promoted in the beautiful boundary of marriage, it is holy and honorable and right, and oh so good. It is worship.

A vulnerability with one another on the wedding night represents the intimacy that Jesus Christ longs to bring His own bride into. Naked intimacy requires trust, as does our relationship with Christ. (Read Ephesians 5 for more on this comparison).

With that in mind, here are 3 tips to planning a bachelorette party for your friend or sister that will make God and the bride smile from ear to ear.

Tip 1: Check in your Bashful Badge:

An appropriate amount of modesty should be applied to the topic of sex in many situations… except the bachelorette party! Now is the time to talk about God’s plan for marriage and sexuality as good, exciting, and worth celebrating!

I believe it is, in fact, a Biblical idea. The first few verses in Song of Solomon 1 is a conversation between Solomon’s bride and her friends. They celebrate the woman’s love for Solomon:

“We rejoice and delight in you;
    we will praise your love more than wine.” SoS 1:4

In my opinion, they were throwing bachelorette parties long before the 80’s made them popular (and raunchy, and embarrassing, and uncomfortable [Check out this article for more on the history of Bachelor parties]).

So bake that anatomy-shaped cake if you want. Play silly games and blush and giggle. Ask attendees to bring the bride-to-be some fancy lingerie. Just keep in mind tip #2:

Tip 2: Consult the Bride, not Pop Culture.

I highly advise anyone planning a bachelorette party to figure out what the bride finds to be fun. Pop culture has an idea about bachelorette parties that does not glorify Jesus, much less the coming marriage.

Remember, the friends of Solomon’s bride said we will praise your love MORE than wine. Be careful to keep the bride in focus. Before you roll out the shot glasses and male strippers because “it’s how it’s always been done,” take a party-planning-second to use your own creativity and imagination. Ask:

  • What are some Life-Givers for our friend (the bride)?
  • How can we highlight this night as a celebration of womanhood, fierce feminity, and all things _________________[name of bride]?
  • How can we help the bride feel more excited, comfortable, and supported to start (or re-begin) her God-given sexual journey in marriage?

My friends asked those questions and planned the most spectacular event for my bachelorette party. We called it the Mighty Mountain Women Weekend. It featured cabin-camping, hiking, hot-tubbing, movies, lingerie-gifting and of course S’MORES. There was also a late night activity to help me make something special for my husband-to-be. I felt supported and I had a blast! (Thanks Andy)

Tip 3: Feature a Short Bible Study.

Bibles and bachelorette parties may not seem a likely pair, but I guarantee God has awesome things in mind for the bride’s sexuality and the celebration thereof. Why not invite God’s perspective into the party? Ask an older sister, friend, or mentor-of-honor to give a short but sweet commemoration of God’s good gift.

Look to Song of Solomon, Ephesians 5, even Genesis 1 for ideas on how God sees marriage and sexuality. Take time to pray over the bride-to-be regarding this specific area of her marriage.

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I plan to thoroughly enjoy my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bachelorette party. In addition to a thrilling lake day and delectable treats from her chef-cousin, I think the bride is such a worthy reason to celebrate lavishly under the broad smile of our Savior.

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What’s The Point of a Unity Symbol (Plus 8 Sensational Unity Candle-Alternatives with Bible Verses!)

 

unity symbol 2The Unity Ceremony.

This summer, I am getting one more sister-in-law and I have a feeling the wedding is going to be glam-tabulous! Recently, she polled Facebook for alternative ideas for a unity ceremony. Her question reminded me of my own experience.

As I planned my wedding, I questioned everything, particularly the unity ceremony. “It’s just what we do at weddings” was  less than satisfying. I figured a wedding was already a symbol of unity (bride and groom unite as a symbol of Christ’s union with His church). In my quest to be off-beat at the time, I just didn’t see the point. Now, my perspective is a little different. (Keep reading to find out what crazy unity ceremony we actually used in our wedding).

Historical Reasons:

 

I couldn’t find much information on the history of the unity ceremony in marriage. Partaking in the eucharist is a powerful symbol used in the catholic church during weddings. Eating the bread and drinking the wine memorializes Christ’s death to purchase His bride, the church, for Himself.

Sometime in the 80’s, the unity candle became popular in non-catholic weddings. The mothers of both the bride and groom light individual candles, which the couple then use to light a single candle, signifying the unity of two families into one.

Over time, other activities have taken the place of the unity candle, including unity sand, unity chord, and even the unity sandwich!

Of course, a couple has the freedom to trash or cherish the expectation for a unity symbol in their wedding ceremony. A bride who strives for a Christ-centered wedding might like to use a unity symbol to exemplify the following Scriptures:

What the Bible says:

I cannot find any symbols in scripture for marital unity. Again, marriage itself is a symbol of the unity of Christ and the church:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wifeas he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33

 

The point is:

 

Not only can a unity symbol be a lasting reminder of your own covenant/commitment to one another; it can also be a symbol of Christ’s love for the world, His covenant to those who accept Him as Savior. Your wedding ceremony is a unique opportunity to share this truth with people in your sphere of influence.

With that in mind, here are a few unique, meaningful activities that symbolize such commitment and unity.

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1. Signing a New Bible Together: My friends signed a beautiful Bible during their wedding ceremony, right after sharing communion together. This became their family Bible, a treasure they plan to share with their children someday as they read family devotions together.

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. Luke 6:47-48

Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32

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2. Flower Arranging: When my friend asked me to write her unity ceremony, I was skeptical of her idea to arrange flowers in a vase. It sounded anticlimactic, but it was actually quite beautiful! The officiant cited this verse and reminded the couple of God’s provision for every season of their marriage.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!… But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:27-28, 31

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3. Foot Washing: Though foot washing doesn’t tangibly represent unity, it is the most convincing display of humility and servanthood necessary for a marriage that reflects Christ. My sister, Rachel, and her husband washed each other’s feet in a very moving ceremony that would mean more than they ever could have dreamed. Several years, and 2 kids later, her husband would survive a devastating accident and need Rachel’s gentle care and patience for the long road of recovery. She has stood faithfully, and humbly, by his side through it all.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…

 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:3-5, 12-17

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4. Unity Sand: My sister-in-law, Amber, had a gorgeous unity sand ceremony. The couple placed a rock at the bottom of the vase to represent God, the rock on which their marriage would stand. Their ceremony notes went something like this:

We start with an empty vase. Just as this couple has decided to enter into marriage with no expectations, allowing God to shape and fill each moment according to his will.

Jesus said in Luke 6 that “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

(Places a rock in the bottom of the vase). This stone represents how Will and Amber plan to build their marriage with Jesus as the foundation, keeping their faith and commitment in God at the center of their life together.

(After mixing the sand) God looks on this day with precious thoughts; as you symbolize your commitment through these grains of sand, remember the words of David:  “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”  Psalm 139:17-18

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5. Unity Chord: The unity chord is a strategic symbol for the Christ Centered wedding. Three chords, ribbons, or ropes, are tied or braided representing Holy Spirit, Husband, and Wife:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Courtesy of http://intimateportraitsllc.com
Courtesy of http://intimateportraitsllc.com

6. Splatter Paint: I would LOVE to see this one at a wedding someday. Both families can contribute a color, or color family, to a white canvas. You could add a color to represent the Holy Spirit’s role in your marriage. Get the whole family, wedding party, or entire crowd of guests involved. Use balloons filled with paint, or brushes, to splatter paint that intermingles, much like love over time. (This would be a super fun rehearsal dinner activity; display the art at the wedding after a night of drying!)

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones  and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’  for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 3:23-25

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7. Love Lock: Give your wedding a Parisian flair with this love lock symbol. Spruce up a simple padlock with paint, a quote or verse, or your initials. Lock it around something meaningful, like a chunk of chain-link fence (frame it for quirky wall art), a metal wall hanging or frame (from Hobby Lobby?), or even a love-letter box. The lock symbolizes the seal, or secure guarantee of commitment and love that Christ gives us through the cross.

Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away. Song of Songs 8:6-7

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

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8. Worship Songs: Shane and I included a worship session in our reception. Although worship is not just an act of singing songs, I truly believe music has the ability to unite our hearts and stir our affections for God.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

 

 

Bonus. Unity S’more: Since I promised, I will share that Shane and I had a unity S’MORE at our wedding. It was delicious, messy, and the perfect representation of our life together. Our officiant even said “the graham cracker represents God holding all things together.” Classic.

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Courtesy of Shane and Becky’s Wedding 2010

Campfire Check In:

What Unity Symbol will you use (or did you use) at your wedding?

If any readers would like to send me PICTURES of one of these 8 unity ceremonies, with your permission (or your photographer’s!) I would be honored to feature them in this article!

All photos courtesy of Unsplash unless otherwise noted.

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What’s the Point of Bridesmaids?

bridesmaids

This Spring, I am continuing my Christ-Centered Wedding series by exposing long-held traditions of the modern wedding (of the western culture).

I hope to cover everything from the unity symbol to the wedding dress. I invite all brides aiming to be Christ-centered in their wedding planning to join me in this pursuit of “What’s the Point?”

Together, we will review the history and current meaning behind each aspect of a wedding. More importantly, we will discover how God’s Word redefines each tradition, expectation, and this-is-how-it’s-always-been-done.

Today, we will start with …

The Bridesmaids.

 

Even before you got engaged, you probably already picked out which friends and family members will be standing with you as you say “I do.” Still, this process probably involved a bit of stress. In my opinion, these are the top 5 issues with picking a bridesmaid:

  1. Anna asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, should I ask her for mine?
  2. I have 3 sisters, 3 soon-to-be sisters-in-law, 2 best friends, and only 4 bridesmaids spots!
  3. All of my friends are already married. Can I have 4 brides-matrons?
  4. I promised my best-friend in high-school that she would be my maid-of-honor, but we really aren’t close anymore!
  5. Marriage isn’t even on the radar for most of my friends; they kind of resent me for being the first one to get married. And my sisters are too young to plan parties and help me pick out honeymoon stuff.

For many brides, narrowing down (or broadening) the scope of ladies to be your bridesmaids is intimidating. Let’s rewind and ask the question of the day:

What’s the Point?

There are 2 historical accounts for bridesmaids that I have found particularly fascinating:

In the early Roman culture, a bride would choose women to accompany her on the journey to her future-husband’s home. These women acted as soldiers and protectors, keeping the bride (and the dowry her father sent with her), safe from harm on the road.

Later, brides began to choose women to stand with them at the altar to fool any supposed evil spirits from attacking the bride. All the women would wear the same dress to add to the confusion. The same would go for the groomsmen. (Source)

Currently, a bride and groom typically build their wedding party to obtain witnesses, recruit party planners, honor individuals, and add to the aesthetics of the ceremony. That and, “it’s what has always been done.”

Of course, bridesmaids can honor your wedding in all of these points. However, more importantly, the Christ-centered bride might like to redefine the tradition to include a deeper meaning.

What the Bible says:

Song of Solomon, the great love-story of the Bible, reminds us that girlfriends are very much a part of a woman’s marriage and intimacy:

The bride’s friends make several vocal appearances. They express their celebration of the bride and her marriage. (SOS 1:4) These women also offer support and accountability for her (SOS 2:15). They even show praise and encouragement to the groom (SOS 3:6-10)

Later, these women encourage the bride to be intimate with her husband (SOS 5:1, 9), and make a point to reunite the couple after they are separated (SOS 6:1).

Titus 2 emphasizes the importance of having mentor-women in our lives:

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. (Titus 2:4-5)

Also, Proverbs 12:26 tells us that “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.”

The point is:

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On your wedding day, you are making the one of the greatest decisions in your life (second only to your decision to follow Christ). The people you ask to stand up with you as you make that decision should be those who are willing to hold you accountable to it. Each women should stand with you not as a wedding decoration, but as a trustworthy pillar to hold you to your vows.

Instead of the above 5 frustrations, I encourage you to ask these questions as you choose your bridesmaids:

  1. Who is my accountability partner?

  2. Who is willing to help me process through, celebrate, and be Godly about the coming changes in my life?

  3. Who is a good example to me?

  4. Who is bold enough tell me that I need to repent and seek forgiveness?

  5. Who wont stop praying for my marriage, even 50 years down the road?

As a former bridesmaid for 6 different weddings, I have made a point to hold each bride accountable to her vows. I pray for their marriages regularly, and check in to see how things are going. I am probably a pesky bridesmaid, but I wont relent. Unfortunately, I have already seen 2 of these marriages dissipate. It breaks my heart, but strengthens my resolve to be vigilant in my role for the other 4 brides. (And I invite all 6 of my AMAZING bridesmaids to do the same for me).

This can actually be a very liberating process! It removes the cultural weight of “bridesmaid duties” and replaces it with a much more important, but lighter, responsibility. You don’t have to ask only women who are your age, and you are excused from having to match numbers of bridesmaids to groomsmen. (If you are OCD, disregard the last statement).

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My bestie, Andy, and I at my wedding, 2010. This picture represents 5+ years of awkward pictures.

You no longer have to appease everyone! A Christ-centered bride has 2 objectives:

  1. Honor God. 
  2. Honor your marriage. 

Then honor everyone else.

This can be crucial in many family circles. The role of bridesmaid can be a huge honor, even when a friend and family member isn’t up for the spiritual or marital accountability you need.

My suggestion?

Find that person that will serve you and your marriage in that important capacity. Name her your Maid/Matron of honor. Or give her a similar title, like “Mentor of honor.” If anything, it will get people asking questions about this new role in the wedding party, which will allow you to share your convictions of having a Biblical accountability. Who knows, maybe it will open the door to share the gospel with your wedding planner or guests!

After you have chosen this woman, fill the other spots with individuals you wish to honor as well. Spread out the “duties” for each bridesmaid (hosting showers, helping pick out the dress, etc.), but also feel free to delegate these roles to non-bridesmaids.

You may not want a cavalry of iron-clad ladies, marching at your side with protective gear; but you may want to consider an army of women, clothed in the armor of God, ready to do battle for your covenant marriage at the slightest attack.

Who will you choose for this task? More importantly, are they really up for it?

Campfire Check In:

What topic would you like to hear about for “What’s the Point?” in this wedding series? Comment below or send me a message and I will do my best to address it!

Coming soon: “What’s the Point of a Unity Ceremony? (And Some Really Fun Ideas)”

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4 Myths about “Saving Sex for Marriage”

Congratulations! If you are following my “Planning a Christ-Centered Wedding“, it probably means you are engaged (or would like to be). I am adding a few posts to this series to look at the engagement time! Brace yourself for our first (and potentially button-pushing) topic: why Christians should save sex for marriage.  

Does the Bible really say “no sex before marriage”?

Yes, the Bible forbids it in several places. Here are 3:
  • Exodus 20:14 “You must not commit adultery.” (part of the 10 commandments)
    • A person who is married and has voluntary* sex with someone other than his/her spouse, is committing adultery.
    • A single person who has voluntary sex with a married person is also committing adultery.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” (NASB)
    • A single person having voluntary sex** with another single person is committing “fornication” or is being sexually immoral.
    • Dictionary.com defines “fornication” as “voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other.”
      So anytime we see the words “fornicator” or “sexually immoral,” we know the Bible is referring to voluntary sex before marriage.
  • Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (ESV)

*From now on, let us assume the sexual-acts-before-marriage I will refer to are voluntary. (If you have experienced involuntary sexual acts done against you [rape, groping, sexual harassment], please know you have not committed a sin. God will judge the individual who has sinned against you. However, these experiences can still affect your perception of purity and wholeness. I am praying for healing and restoration in your heart.)

**Also, I am taking the liberty to define “sex before marriage” as any sexually arousing, physical activity, alone or with your fiancé, that does not bring honor to God.
Now that we’ve clarified God’s expectations in the Bible, I’d like to uncover 4 myths regarding sex before marriage, according to what I’ve been studying in 1 Corinthians 5-7, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 5:
Shane and I circa 2008, aiming for purity in our dating relationship.

Myth 1: Christians who have sex outside of marriage are “bad”

For most of us, it’s just a given “rule” of Christianity: “Those who save sex for marriage are good Christians, and those who don’t are bad.” I don’t agree with this mentality at all.

Truth: all Christians are pure in Christ

I do not believe a person who “does the deed” outside of marriage is a bad Christian. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you are covered in the grace and righteousness of our perfect Jesus. Whether you gossiped about your co-worker or had sex with your boyfriend, you are still pure in Christ.

“Some of you were once like that [immoral]. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

However, there are still earthly consequences to sin. When a person has sex with someone other than the spouse she is married to, she is breaking God’s commandment. The consequence of sin is death: either yours or Christ’s. Again, if you have trusted Christ as your Savior, He paid the penalty for you. Although eternal separation from God is no longer a consequence, we risk several other consequences when we choose to sin:

  • losing intimate closeness with God today
  • experiencing less than God’s best for our bodies, purpose, and relationships
  • Feelings of guilt, insecurity, loss of self-respect
  • Loss of trust with one’s fiancé, resentment, jealousy
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Loss of trust with our families/church (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-9)
  • Unplanned pregnancy (which is an unparalleled joy, but also meant to be experienced within marriage)

Thankfully, there is healing and restoration in store for all sin! (See the tips below)

Myth 2: Sex (in general) is bad

Have you ever heard this verse and assumed it means God thinks sex is bad?

“Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations.” 1 Cor. 7:1

I used to believe it meant sex is bad… or somehow for “lesser Christians” (as if we are on a scale of good, better, best? NOT). We MUST understand the context of the Corinthian-culture that Paul, the author, was writing to. I just watched the film Gladiator, and I think it portrays a good example of the culture at the time: full of lust, free-sexuality, and thirst for entertainment. When people became Christ-followers, they didn’t have a model-behavior blueprint to follow. So they kept doing what they did before: visiting prostitutes, “swapping spouses”, etc. The Corinthians must have written Paul to ask about what changes should be made on the outside, now that Jesus changed them on the inside. Paul responds with a large portion of his letter (all of chapter 7) giving helpful guidelines.

But does this mean God thinks sex is bad? Um… no.

Truth: Sex rocks!

God created sex! And everything God created, he labeled “good” (when enjoyed as intended).

God celebrates sex in an entire book devoted to married romance and sexual pleasure (Song of Solomon).

God encourages married couples to have sex regularly in 1 Corinthians 7:5.

Myth 3: God doesn’t want us to have any fun.

Many people have a perception of God that doesn’t match what God says about Himself in the Bible. Did you know the word Fun is actually in the Bible?

Hollywood tends to glorify romance, sexual tension, and love-making outside of marriage. When I think of movies about married couples… healthy and romantic sex is rarely a factor. Having fun in the bedroom was a pre-marriage activity. Since movies, books, and TV often shape our perceived reality, it can be easy to see sex-before-marriage as normal.

Because of these cultural norms, God’s boundaries can appear to be fun-suckers when we don’t understand them.

Truth: God want’s your marriage to be so secure, that the fun lasts till you’re 80 and beyond!

Paul clarifies this well:

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. (1 Cor. 6:12)

First of all, sex is great; but it is not good for us outside of God’s design of marriage. Some engaged couples reason that “we are going to marry each other anyway, so it’s not really that bad.”  In addition to the consequences listed above, another reason sex-outside-of-marriage is not good for us is the potential loss of trust. If you or your fiancé is willing to have sex outside of marriage now (fornication), how difficult will it be to say no to sex outside of your own marriage later, with someone else (adultery)? Not having sex before the wedding is good practice for KEEPING sex within marriage after the wedding.

God’s plan is for His people to exercise self-control regarding sex before marriage. Our relationship with God is self-evident when we produce the fruit of the Spirit, one being self-control. When we are not walking by the Spirit, our default “fruit” will be immorality, the fruit of the flesh. (See Galatians 5)
Secondly, Christ-followers must remember that God created fun. Therefore, He knows how to have the MOST, the BEST, the LONGEST-LASTING fun! Christians should be the most trusting of God’s design for sex, because we KNOW it is going to provide the greatest joy. A person who falls into sex before marriage might believe that God is holding out on him/her. I would advise that individual to get to know the God of the Bible, not just the God of your own personal perception.

What Now?

I realize the above truths are not extensive. More importantly, I would like to equip you with a few helpful resources to guard your purity and maintain God’s standard of saving sex (and sexual acts!) until you celebrate your wedding day:

1. Repent

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there…” Galatians 5:24

  • If you have already engaged in sexual activity that doesn’t honor God, confess it to your Savior.
  • Don’t just live with the secret. Confess your sin to a trustworthy Christian mentor or friend:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

  • Set up a plan, not just to STOP engaging in sexual activity, but more importantly to run in the other direction (see step 2)

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

  • If you are living with your fiancé, move out. (more on this in the next post)
    • I have met so many couples who agree with God, that sex outside of marriage is not honorable, but they don’t stop.
    • No excuse (money, living situations, “the wedding is so close”) is worth true repentance and freedom from sin.

2. Walk in step with God.

“… Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:25

  • Study your Bible
  • Pray (talk to God and listen to Him)
  • Worship your way out of temptation: instead of trying to have less sexual encounters, try having MORE Jesus encounters. Make much of Jesus, and your temptation to sin will become less.
  • Feed your heart and mind with Biblical perceptions of marriage and sex, and avoid consuming worldly ideas that become distractions from God’s plan.

3. Spend time with other Christ-followers

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24

  • Boldly ask for someone you trust to be your accountability partner
  • Generate a godly perspective of marriage by spending time with married couples who are following Christ
  • Mentor someone younger than you. Chances are, if you are encouraging that person to be pure, you will want to lead by example.

4. Talk with your fiancé

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2

  • Set up clear verbal and maybe even written boundaries regarding physical touch
  • Be cautious with these “talks” as conversation can lead to curiosity and arousal.
  • Pray with your fiancé
  • If your fiancé is the “fool” in Proverbs 18:2 above, and doesn’t want to change, I encourage you to pursue godly counsel regarding continuing your engagement to this individual.

For the Support Team:

We should be eager to encourage our fellow Christ-following friends to stay sexually pure. 1 Corinthians gives us permission to be adamant about maintaining purity within the church. However, we should not expect the same integrity from someone who does not know Christ:

“I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people.” (verses 10-11)

Christians should pursue friendships with people who don’t know Christ, in order to facilitate an introduction to Jesus, not to “fix the impure behaviors.” Jesus is in charge of that job.

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Using your Wedding to Give Generously

giveLooking for ways to make a difference in your life? Your wedding day can be one of them. Here are 7 ways you can impact your world through your Wedding.

  1. Tithe 10% of the cash you receive from your wedding
  2. Purchase as much of your wedding accessories, jewelry, shoes, dresses, and thank-you gifts through a fair-trade company. My friend’s website, Consumers in Christ, hosts some EXCELLENT and stylish suggestions that help men and women all over the world.
  3. Post a charity along with your gift registry. Idofoundation.org has some great ideas.
  4. Give away your dining wear to a church, low income family, or shelter after your wedding or sell your wedding decorations to raise funds for a family in the process of adoption.
  5. Use Eco-friendly wedding invitations.
  6. After your wedding, visit a nursing home (or ask your bridesmaids/family to) and give each resident one of the flowers from your wedding.
  7. Instead of trashing the dress, sell it and anonymously donate the cash to a single-mom in need.
  8. Take a long look at your budget. Place a star next to the things that you are most excited about. Put a check mark on things you’ve already purchased. Circle anything that is a must-have (officiant, license, etc.) Is there anything left over that you could live without? Anything that could be exchanged for something less expensive (eco-friendly paper cups vs. mason jars). What could you do with the money you save?
  • Put it towards getting out of debt (think school loans, etc.), so you can live more generously later?
  • Or perhaps start a mission’s trip fund for you and your hubby’s next trip (we went to South Africa).
  • Save it as a special R-A-K (random act of kindness) date fund. Save that extra cash in a jar or envelope, and once a month/year, bless someone extravagantly in Jesus name. Or take it on your honeymoon and do the same thing. Purchase someone else’s dinner, or generously tip the host at your hotel … tell him to spend it on his wife. You will love how much fun you have together giving good gifts to others.

Do you have any suggestions? Post them in a comment below!

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4 Reasons you should go “all out” for your wedding

all out 2When it comes to a wedding, some people tend to disagree on the amount of celebration necessary. After conversations about having a Christ-Centered wedding, many brides assume they must slice their budget in half to give more money to missions. This is not at all what I suggest, nor is it necessarily what God is asking.

Now, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to worship God through an extravagant financial gift to His kingdom, gather the courage to do so joyfully. (Find creative ideas here.)

Otherwise, remember that your marriage is marvelously important and deserving to be commemorated!  Here are 4 reasons why a Christ-Centered wedding should be celebrated well:

1. Jesus celebrated! He attended a wedding, and when given the opportunity to provide the items for celebration (namely, wine), He went all out! Jesus provided the best wine. Of course, Jesus was not restricted by a budget; but the point is that “going all out” to honor an important event is not a sin.

J.D. Greear pointed this out well in his book, Gospel:

“The point is that Jesus provided good stuff for people at the party because He loved His Father’s creation and knew that by enjoying it we glorify God.” (2011, p. 135)

2. Your marriage is the picture of Christ. God chose marriage as the visual to humanity of His loving sacrifice for His bride (Ephesians 5). All the ups and downs of marriage is a perfect example of the closeness and distance we experience in our devotion to God. But through the cross, Christ made a covenant with us to never leave or forsake us, no matter what our mood is. I can think of no better way to capture that beauty than through marriage-covenant. Our relationship with Christ should be honored. Use your wedding to place value on God’s idea of a self-portrait.

3. By going all out, you are saying to your guests “this matters.” God’s plan for marriage is important. His gift to us is valuable. Our commitment should be commemorated in the best way possible.

Remember, its not all about you (the bride). So you are not communicating your own importance, rather the gravity of the commitment. Go big or go home. Let your wedding leave an impression for your guests on what marriage really is about: covenant between 2 people as the picture of Christ and an example to others. And that calls for a significant celebration.

4. This is God’s incredible gift to you! I remember when my dad purchased a car for my graduation present. Overwhelmed, I felt undeserving of it. I tried to keep very calm and humble about the situation, not wanting to act like a spoiled brat. Later that day, my dad approached me, “what’s wrong with the car, do you not like it? Did I do something to bother you?”

By avoiding “excessive celebration” I gave my dad the impression that I didn’t appreciate his gift. I think we often assume God expects us to be humble and reserved about the blessings He gives us. But like my dad, our Heavenly Father loves to give good gifts! (Luke 11:13)

The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) didn’t deserve the outpouring of love, the feast, the ring, the acceptance, or the party he received upon returning to his Father. But his Father “killed the fatted calf” and made a HUGE deal out of their relationship. It is good to make a HUGE deal out of something so beautiful and worthy of celebration.

Of course we don’t deserve an amazing husband (or wife). It is God’s lavish gift for us to share a lifetime of love,  children, ministry, joy, hardship, and amazing memories with each other. Not to mention the privilege it is to be one physically with your husband! God knows how to give good gifts, and we should receive and celebrate them happily.

Realize these are not excuses to go into debt for your party. This is simply an encouragement to see your wedding as an important and worthy moment. Be unique and innovative in your plans to celebrate; find ways to make a fantastic party that doesn’t break the bank (subscribe for more ideas to come).

Brides, make it matter. Throw an extra-special shin-dig in commemoration of marriage. Invite your friends and family to don their best party dress and rock-out with you all night long. As you plan your wedding, keep in mind how to glorify God and celebrate His goodness in your life, to the best of your ability.

*Married? I’d love to hear how you celebrated your wedding. Comment below (its easy, I promise) or visit me on Facebook.

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