Weddings are beautiful occasions that we all look forward to, of course not as much as the bride and groom, but with great anticipation all the same. We look forward to see the beauty and elegance of the bride, the songs, the dancing, the food and even the photos we get to take.
Undoubtedly, some of the most beautiful memories we have are made in weddings. We gather to celebrate the union of the bride and groom as they make their solemn vows to each other in the presence of witnesses— us.
Weddings are not only part of our culture and traditions, but most importantly they are biblical and as such are meant to honor God. Most weddings borrow from the culture and practices of the communities of the bride and groom, which is not wrong. There is a lot of beauty in culture that should be celebrated.
However, we live in a sinful and broken world and there are elements of our culture that are flawed and unbiblical when viewed in light of Scripture. In addition to our culture, there are also societal expectations and practices that have been adopted over time as Christian practices that are not necessarily biblical.
Sadly, weddings have increasingly become more of a show off and the cost of weddings is becoming a hindrance to many young men and women who have the desire to get married but are living within modest means as is often the case especially when starting out in life.
A Biblical Perspective to Weddings
It is against this backdrop that the book “Redeeming Weddings” comes in. This book, written by Joseph Okoth, is very timely as it comes to address the topic of weddings by evaluating church and cultural practices from a biblical perspective.
While many books and other literature abound on relationships and marriage, this book is unique in that it addresses the topic of weddings. Redeeming weddings not only addresses the two main parties involved (the bride and the groom), but everyone involved in the process. This includes parents, relatives, friends, clergy, counsellors and even service providers.
The book is written with the aim of recapturing the significance, beauty and simplicity of weddings. The author draws from his own personal experience, having had a radically simple wedding himself, which makes it very practical. He uses Scripture as the guide and supreme authority in his approach of this crucial topic.
In Redeeming Weddings, Joseph Okoth looks into Scripture intently and with diligence to find out what the Bible says about weddings and their significance. Just like all other things that pertain to life, the Bible is not silent when it comes to the topic of weddings. While the Bible seems to say little about weddings, with patience and diligence, we find biblical support for the significance and practice of weddings.
In this book, Joseph Okoth gives insightful counsel drawn from Scripture on how to have a radically simple, deeply joyful and Christ centered wedding. He offers a biblical perspective on weddings and guidance on how to swim against the tide of flawed cultural, societal and even ‘Christian’ norms both with boldness and grace.
A Radically Simple Approach
In his book, Joseph Okoth advocates for a radically simple approach to weddings which breaks the mold of unnecessary extravagance that has become so entrenched in weddings today. Redeeming Weddings begins with an excerpt from an article written by John Piper on Desiring God, Weddings: Don’t Break the Bank, which perfectly captures the gist of the book:
“There is no correlation between expensive and joyful — none. Unless it is this: more expensive means more hassle, more stress, more distraction — less joyful. This is a plea to leaders to cultivate an expectation of simplicity so that no one with modest means — and that is a lot of people — feels like a simple wedding with a mints and nuts reception — no meal, no dance, just joy — is somehow less honoring to the Lord and the couple. That is tragic if we have cultivated a situation like that.”John piper
The emphasis on a simplistic approach to weddings is quite eye-opening as well as counter cultural because it means going against the current tide. The current trend is not only unbiblical because of the lack of good stewardship of resources it brings about, but is also an obstacle to many who desire to get married but are unable because of the unbearable financial demands.
The author labors to put across the point that the focus should not be mainly on the wedding but on what follows— the marriage. After all, a wedding in most cases is usually just a one-day event but marriage is a lifelong union.
Therefore, a wedding is simply like a door into marriage— what really matters is the marriage and as such more emphasis should be put on it. Without a doubt, if more emphasis was put on marriage, there would be fewer cases of the failed marriages we hear about today.
A Biblical Motivation to Wed
While there are many reasons why people wed, most of them are not biblical. The author begins by making clear the biblical motivation to wed. He helps the reader appreciate that a wedding has a much greater significance than what is often perceived.
Through God’s word, we come to the realization that a wedding is an analogy that is used to paint the picture of the union between Christ and His church (Revelation 19:6-9). As such, a wedding has a great significance for everyone who has the desire to get into marriage.
In Redeeming weddings, the author begins by helping the reader to appreciate that a wedding is not just something mandatory before marriage, but something desirable, and even necessary for marriage. He begins by making it clear why a wedding is important and necessary in the first place. This serves as a great starting point as he continues to build upon this foundation in the rest of the book.
In the second section of the book, the author handles what a wedding truly is by talking about the essentials and non-essentials of a wedding and the relevant witnesses needed for a wedding to take place. As you read, you will come to realize that there are some non-essential things that we have adopted along the way as Christian practices.
The author outlines that what is essential for a wedding is a partner’s consent, the consent of relatives and relevant witnesses. Relevant witnesses in this case being people who have been instrumental in one’s life to the point of getting married- and will likely remain instrumental even in marriage. Therefore, a wedding does not necessarily need to have a multitude of people for it to be called a wedding.
How to Successfully Plan A Wedding
In the sections that follow, the author talks about what it takes to successfully plan a wedding in terms of resources and people. In most cases, the resources in terms of finances are never enough and the couple has to seek for help from friends and relatives. However, the author argues that this would be made much easier if the couple agreed on what is really necessary for the wedding- the needs and not the wants.
The author makes it clear that even in cases where finances are not limited, there is need to exercise restraint where possible. The surplus can be used in a way that is pleasing to God like being directed towards helping missionaries and taking the gospel to the unreached. We ought to always remember that we will all be accountable for how we spend the resources God has given us.
When it comes to the people involved in planning for a wedding, the author talks about how to graciously and wisely handle the sensitive issue of bride price. He also gives insight on how to handle relatives who may have different suggestions and input towards the wedding. The author offers very helpful counsel that can save one from a lot of needless pain, trouble and strife with friends and relatives.
Living Life Backward
The book ends with a great exhortation to live life backward- with eternity in perspective. This applies not only to weddings but to all other aspects of the Christian life. As the author puts it:
“…a wasteful wedding casts doubt as to whether we have truly yielded our all to Christ and gladly given ourselves to walk in his path that is hard and through his gate that is narrow (Matthew 7:14). Living from eternity backward will determine how one lives and what he/she spends on. If our minds are set on things above (Colossians 3:2), even what is permissible to do all things, we will only opt for the truly beneficial things to the kingdom we pledge allegiance to (1 Corinthians 10:23). When resources do not constrain us to a more modest wedding, love and a sense of stewardship will.”Joseph Okoth
What I loved most about the book is that it challenges the reader not just about the topic of weddings but also their personal life as a Christian. As an example, it has really challenged my perspective on stewardship especially when it comes to money.
Redeeming Weddings is a great book that everyone can benefit from. It is never too early to start preparing for family life and if marriage is a desire one has, a wedding is inevitable. Redeeming Weddings offers guidance and wisdom on how to have a radically simple, deeply joyful and Christ centered wedding. It can be a great gift especially to those planning for a wedding.
The book is available in bookshops in Nairobi like Keswick, Chania, ACTS and at the FOCUS center in Kasarani. The book retails at 1000 Ksh but students can get it at 800 Ksh if bought at FOCUS. For a copy of the book, you can also call 0715 147 434. Happy reading 😃
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