How We Handle Weddings
1. Good News pastors do not perform civil (legal) marriage ceremonies.
This is a quote from the bylaws of Good News Church:
“Even though Florida law permits ordained ministers and other clergy to perform civil marriage ceremonies, Good News Church pastors do not operate as agents of the state, and therefore do not perform any civil/legal marriage ceremonies. Good News Church does allow its ministers to perform religious marriage ceremonies (that are not recognized as unions by the state) and suggests that people who participate in these ceremonies pursue civil/legal marriage from the State of Florida if they so desire.”
We wanted you to know this up front. If you desire a marriage that is recognized by the state (for tax purposes, benefits, inheritance law, etc.) we recommend going down to a Florida county courthouse and inquiring there.
2. Good News pastors only perform Christian weddings.
What we mean by this is that Good News pastors only officiate religious ceremonies that unite one Christ-follower to another Christ-follower for the remainder of their life in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Our definition of “Christ-follower” is someone who believes that Jesus is:
- God: He is worthy of worship and the whole of our lives.
- Savior: He died on the cross for our sins. (We do not earn a right relationship with God. It is by His grace.)
- Lord: He rose again, lives forever, and reigns over us. (We should live our lives in submission to Him and what His word says).
Because we only perform Christian weddings, this means that we cannot perform a ceremony if we are fairly certain that one of the people getting married is a believer in Jesus Christ and the other one is not. (We believe the Bible speaks negatively of these kinds of unions in passages like 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, Deuteronomy 7:3-4, and 1 Corinthians 7:39.)
Because we only perform Christian weddings, this also means that we cannot perform a ceremony for two people who don’t follow Jesus Christ. In fact, there is no reason for a religious wedding in this case. They can skip straight to the civil (legal) ceremony described above.
Not a Christian?
If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, we want you to consider becoming one - not to be able to have a “Christian wedding,” but in order to have a right relationship with your Creator, to escape the judgment you deserve because of your sins, and to live forever with God and His people in a perfect world. We think understanding the gospel (Good News of Jesus Christ) is eternally important and recommend two sermons as good explanations:
Listen to "Death and the Gospel"
Listen to "Pierce My Ear"
3. Good News pastors require church attendance during pre-marital counseling period.
Because we only officiate religious ceremonies that unite one Christ-follower to another Christ-follower, we also require that local couples attend Good News Church during their pre-marital counseling period. This is because we know that church attendance is a huge part of being a Christ-follower. The Bible teaches us not to neglect such gatherings in Hebrews 10:25. We require non-local couples to attend a church in their area. All non-local and local couples who desire to attend another church during the pre-marital counseling period will be approved on a case-by-case basis.
4. Good News Church does not rent out its building.
In order to avoid concerns related to “Why was this person allowed to use the building and not this person?” we do not rent out the use of our building. We hope this isn’t a problem for most potential brides/grooms. We think it may not be too big of a deal since most of the weddings we’ve been asked to do these past several years have been outdoors or at some other venue.
5. Good News pastors require premarital counseling prior to performing a ceremony
We believe that it is important for Christian couples to understand and talk through what the Bible teaches on the topic of marriage prior to the wedding. This usually consists of six one-hour sessions led by Good News Church leader(s). Five of the sessions are on the Bible, the final one is mostly just a meeting to plan out the particulars of the wedding itself.
Here the topics that are typically covered:
- The Purpose of Marriage
- Fundamental Marriage Qualities: Union, Permanence, and Love
- Marriage Roles: Husband and Wife
- Super Important Issues #1: Sex & Children
- Super Important Issues #2: Money & Communication
- Planning the Wedding
6. Good News pastors ask that couples not live together nor be sexually active during the remainder of their engagement, if those practices have already started.
One of the reasons for this is that the Bible sets aside sex for married people only (see 1 Corinthians 7:1-9) and we believe that anyone who really wants to attempt to do marriage God’s way needs to start applying the Bible to their life even before they are married. This does not mean that if a couple lives together or has had a sexual relationship that we won’t marry them based on what they’ve done in the past - it simply means that we want them to repent of these behaviors from now on until they are married - and to resume these behaviors once they are married, of course!
We do realize that this requirement may sound crazy to someone who doesn’t follow Jesus and/or isn’t aware of what His word says about this. But we believe that this kind of life is perfectly reasonable once someone is aware of what God’s word says and has accepted Jesus as the Lord of their whole life. We also realize that some people do not want to live according to God’s ways. But we would suggest that a Christian wedding ceremony and Christian pre-marital counseling wouldn’t be the appropriate methods for such people to pursue.
Should We Continue Living Together?
One thing people most people who are living together ask is, “Can we just stop having sex, but keep living together? We can’t afford two rent payments!” This is an understandable question but the answer is “no” as we believe a couple should not be united together with someone if they are not united together in the eyes of God. And sharing a bed, an apartment, bills, assets, etc. Those are all the kinds of things that a united couple does, not a pre-union couple. (Additionally, living together also increases sexual temptation. And it often looks hypocritical to many people to be living together before you are married, while claiming to be a Christian and saying it’s important to you to do things according to God’s ways.) We think renting a separate apartment, or moving in with a family member, or living with a friend from church, temporarily until you can get married, is worth the inconvenience for someone who really wants to follow God’s ways.
7. Good News pastors will not remarry someone if they believe there is no Biblical warrant for it.
This is a difficult issue, but the basic point here is that there are times when someone shouldn’t get remarried because they weren’t permitted to divorce their first spouse (for instance, see what the Bible teaches in Matthew 19:3-9 and 1 Corinthians 7:10-15).
We realize that remarriage is somewhat of a “gray area” within Christianity as different Christians hold different positions on what constitutes a “biblical divorce” or a “biblical remarriage.” However, some cases are more black-and-white. For instance, if someone were to approach us and say, “I’d been cheating on my faithful wife, Susan for the past nine months with a woman named Tina. To make things official, I just recently divorced Susan and would like to marry Tina. Will you officiate our wedding?” The answer would be “no,” and we would counsel such a person to repent of their immorality. However, if someone approached us and said, “Ten years ago, back before I was a follower of Jesus Christ, I divorced my wife Susan. Looking back, I feel bad about it now, recognizing it as a sin. Susan has since remarried and I am now dating a wonderful Christian girl named Tina. Will you officiate our wedding?” We would recognize that this is obviously a very different situation than the first one. So, many of these particular issues will have to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Therefore, the point of this section is to inform you that we do not believe Scripture permits remarriage as an option for everyone in every case and that Good News pastors will only counsel people to do things that they believe the Bible permits.
8. That’s it! Call the church if you are still interested!
This completes our explanation of how we handle weddings at Good News Church and what kinds of weddings we will and won’t do. If you are still interested in having a Good News pastor conduct your wedding ceremony, just contact the church to set up your first pre-marital counseling session.