It was one of the few weddings these days that I attended without presiding.
And what was striking about the wedding ceremony itself was the fact that neither “God” nor “Jesus” nor the “Spirit” got a single mention. Zip. Zero. Nada.
No prayers, no Scriptures, no hymns. I’d never been to a wedding before in which the officiant and the couple so consciously avoided any mention of God.
So after some time pondering that particular wedding, here are my Top Five Reflections On A Wedding Without God:
1. Integrity. The now-married couple does not have any religious beliefs and I appreciated how they had the integrity not to have a service that pretended they do. Having officiated at more than a few weddings in which the bride and groom showed scant evidence of a living Christian faith and yet wanted a “pretty” or “classic” Christian wedding, I found such candor and honesty refreshing.
2. Simplicity. When there are no hymns, no Scripture, and no prayers, the service moves much more quickly. Imagine such simplicity on a Sunday morning! So we got down to the business of the reception with considerable haste.
3. Naivete. While the officiant was not a member of any religious clergy and nor was he a Justice Of The Peace, he nevertheless was licensed to marry people in North Carolina. As such, he gave a sort of secular homily. What I noticed most about that talk was his recollection of how he knew the bride and groom were “right” for each other: “they had the look in their eye.” So the foundation for a lifelong marital commitment is a certain “look in the eye.” Whether you have a religious faith or not, healthy, long-term marriages must be built of more substantial stuff than that — instead of a “look in the eye” how about unwavering commitment, shared sacrifice, and other-centered love?
4. Levity. When marriage is separated from any sense that “this is God’s idea before it is ours,” then little mis-steps in the wedding ceremony don’t matter as much. Things did not flow perfectly in the service . . . but no one seemed to mind.
5. Flexibility. As soon as the service was completed, the officiant changed roles and became the DJ for the reception. No kidding. The “preacher” turned into the “Spin Master.” That’s one double duty I don’t think I could pull off in a million years.