Like most mothers and daughters, my mom and I loved to dream about my future wedding. We would plan and laugh and, most often, disagree. I will never forget when we were talking about the style of dress I would wear, she was adamant that I consider wearing a hat and gloves, to which I replied, “NO WAY, MOM! I am not wearing that!” Her reply? “Fine then, you’re ugly, and I’m not coming.” Of course she was joking, but I certainly remember it well. Words have a way of sticking with you.
She also had a very strong opinion about where a wedding should be held and who should officiate it.
Inside a church.
By a male pastor.
Anything else was blasphemy.
I grew up in a large church. It was a good church. My family was very involved and I’m thankful for the imprint it left on me. It wasn’t until I was much older (we’re talking only about six years ago) that I came to a deeper understanding and the impact of my experience.
As I was sensing a call into ministry, I found myself confused and stuck. I knew that I had a strong desire to serve the Lord in full-time ministry but I had nothing to compare it to. Based on what I had seen, I thought my only options were to either be a pastor’s wife, a missionary, or hold babies in the children’s ministry. Each important, but none satisfied the deep yearning.
Then there was my family experience. It was run by strong women with big personalities. Each woman was a vital contributor to the family not only through her personality but in her profession. There wasn’t anything they couldn’t do. So while I was empowered by my DNA to accomplish what I felt called to do, I battled the words that had shaped my understanding.
In seminary, my professors encouraged me and my eyes were opened to the endless possibilities without gender restrictions. I even discovered that the church denomination I grew up in ordained women and always had! Who knew?! It certainly wasn’t modeled at my church.
Well, it happened. I am a full-time pastor at the best church in the world. I couldn’t be happier or more thankful that the Lord had no intention on holding me back, but cheers me on to accomplish great things for His glory.
So what about weddings? What makes them holy? This weekend I officiated my first wedding. What an honor and privilege! The Spirit of the Lord was there and two became one in a beautiful and holy union.
BUT WAIT! IT WAS OUTSIDE AND OFFICIATED BY A WOMAN! This was not lost on me. My mother passed away years prior to my calling into ministry. She has never seen me preach. She has never watched me do what I love the most: pour out the glory of God and watch as people are changed by His grace and love. Of course she has a heavenly front row seat and is cheering me on, bragging about her baby girl to any angel that will listen, but if I am honest, I had to do some work to combat the words from my past.
If she was here, she would have gone on this journey of discovery with me. I know she would have been enlightened as well to the freedom we as women have in ministry. But instead, I do it alone. I shake off the words of condemnation, limitation, and disqualification from my past. I forgive my mother for the words and lasting impressions she didn’t know she was leaving. I climb up on my Father in heaven’s lap and let Him fill me with His truth. I am called. I am qualified by His Son Jesus. I am powered by the Holy Spirit.
A Christian wedding is a covenant ceremony. It is holy because that covenant is rooted in and made possible by the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is modeled after the mighty union of the trinity, three in one, powered by sacrificial love. It is a holy union because when Christ is welcomed in we are covered in His righteousness. We are made new.
Whether it’s outside, inside, formal, casual, or officiated by a man or a woman, a Christian wedding is a holy union because of Jesus. Invite him in and watch what happens.