We’ve Only Got One Night?

You may have seen this by now.  I’ve seen it posted three separate times by various Facebook friends in the last week.  It’s apparently not a new video, but it has really touched people at a variety of very deep levels.  It has over 4.6 million hits on YouTube.


First off, this is an incredible occurence (the video, not my haranguing about it).  Clearly these are people with a great deal of excitement and joy for the day, and they communicate that excitement and joy in a visceral and infectious way.  The house is clearly rocking.  I think that this would be an amazing and incredible way for a wedding party to arrive at a wedding reception.  What an amazing entrance this would make, what a powerful way of firing people up emotionally for an afternoon or evening of fun and friendship.  

The problem isn’t the excitement, or the joy, or the visceralness, or the infectiousness.  

The problem is the house.

So, let’s break it down.  

Yes, this is happening in a church.  And no, a church needn’t and shouldn’t be some sort of mausoleum devoid of joy or excitement.  Of any place on earth, a church that embraces and attests to the risen & victorious Son of God ought to be a rockin’ place.  But as with emotions in general, we need to really think about what is rockin’ and why.

I don’t have a problem with dancing in a church in general.  It’s not part of my faith tradition, but it’s a part of others, and I can handle that.  Expressing honest joy in the Lord is a wonderful thing that can and should take many forms.  However dance in church should not be grandstanding.  The emphasis shouldn’t be on the person dancing, but on the joy – dare I say the Spirit – that inspires that dancing.

I don’t have a problem with contemporary music in a church.  I don’t even have a problem with secular music played in the church.  Within a body of believers there ought to be plenty of room for discussion and even the use of music and other arts that may not have originally been intended for the sacred space and format.  But I believe very firmly that we need to be aware of what the original intent and focus of that song or that painting or that sculpture was.  And we need to be very firmly aware of what that art will inspire in or bring to mind in the people sitting in it’s presence in a church, and we need to be able to redirect those thoughts and feelings appropriately, if necessary.  

This song is infectious, it’s got a great beat to it that demands that you not stand still.  I had to Google the lyrics to clarify a few things, and set my mind at ease about some basics.  It’s a beautiful song about love and hope and life and joy.  It’s a great song for a wedding reception.  

But while it may be clean lyrically, a song also needs to be examined for it’s theology – if it’s going to be used in a Christian service of some sort.  And theologically, there are some issues with this song.  It’s the man singing the song, and the man promising the woman that he’s going to “take her there”, and that she just has to “watch” and follow his lead, to “trust” him.  It’s not a religious song by a long shot.  The emphasis is on the two people involved.  They’re the ones that are going to make this thing happen.  They’re the ones with the potency to make decisions and to act and to joy in each other “into eternity”.  Theologically, the song is anthropocentric – it focuses entirely on the humans involved, without any acknowledgement of either a) the role of God or b) the limitations and fallibility of humans.  

Again, a great song for a wedding reception.  But for a church wedding?

What’s the focus of a Christian wedding?  Is it on the bride and the groom and on how much they love one another and want to make this work for the rest of their lives?  No, not really.  Those are the assumptions that are brought into the church.  We assume those things are in place.  And in a church wedding, we bring those feelings and desires and emotions and hopes and dreams and we lay them at the altar.  We say here we are, a man and a woman who love each other and believe that we ought to spend the rest of our lives together.  But we can’t do this alone, and we need to hear and know that the God who created and redeemed us is going to sustain us when we’re weak, hold us together when we want to fly apart, remind us of His forgiveness when we don’t want to forgive one another, and suffuse our lives with joy even if we’re going through sickness or poverty, the worse as well as the better.

The point of a Christian wedding is not on you and I, but on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  A Christian wedding should remind the bride and groom of this fact.  That it is no longer just your emotions and your desires and your hopes and dreams that are holding you together.  You are now bound together by this promise that you are making to one another – and to God, and that you are asking God to keep you faithful to that promise by His power – not yours.  You are changing the relationship from the self-willed relationship of dating and courtship and engagement – a relationship that either one can change or dispense with at any time – and changing it into a relationship that is in God’s hands, not your own.  You are relinquishing control.  You are acknowledging that, while you are still pledging many very real and active things to one another, you are also taking your hand off the steering wheel, removing from yourself the ability to simply say I’ve changed my mind, I don’t feel this way any longer.  

This is the point of a Christian marriage.  This is what everything in the service should attest to.  Why?  Because if this is how the bride and groom feel (and they should be guided and counseled to understand this through Christian premarital counseling by the pastor who will marry them), then they want to witness to this fact to everyone else.  

Because not everyone else in the room may have that same understanding.  There may be younger men and women in the room with mistaken notions about what marriage is.  There may be other couples in the room for whom the span of the wedding ceremony will be the longest they’ve gone without fighting and bickering and hurting one another in the past three weeks.  There may be other individuals or couples in the room who are contemplating divorce or infidelity or any other number of options.  The Christian wedding is a request for God to bless and sanctify and hold together the desires and hopes and dreams and emotions of a man and a woman, and this is an important thing for others to hear.

Everything in Church ought to point away from ourselves and to our Lord.  This is the point of church.  This is the point of worship.  This is the point of a church wedding or a church funeral or any other religious service.  The point is always God.  The point is always grace from the Father, redemption through the Son, and life in the Holy Spirit.  Period.  The focus is not us.  We are there to be blessed by our God, to be reminded of His goodness and love and power, and to properly align our lives and our relationships in light of His grace.  We have an entire world that focuses on us, that magnifies us and holds us up and elevates us and helps us to obsess about ourselves in all manner of ways healthy and unhealthy.  A church is a place that calls us back to a proper perspective, to a proper focus, to a proper approach to life and the world and one another.

So yes, this is an awesome and powerful event depicted in this video.  I just wish they had saved it for the reception rather than the wedding ceremony.  Because everything that happens after this point is going to pale in comparison.  Is going to seem old and stiff and ceremonial and not nearly as fun or as energetic as this entrance.  

And that’s too bad – because the faithfulness of God is still going to be there, regardless of what happens in the relationships and friendships with these people in the wedding party, or the people gathered in the church to witness this event, or even between the bride and the groom themselves.  God’s faithfulness always outlasts our own.  

That’s something worth dancing about forever, yeah.

2 Responses to “We’ve Only Got One Night?”

  1. japanfilms Says:

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  2. Enforcing Orthodoxy | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] has very real importance.  It determines whether riding a hoverboard is appropriate, or whether dancing down the aisle to the altar for a wedding is a good […]

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