Christian couples marrying in the church should strive to promote a culture of simplicity and joy when planning their wedding, avoiding the "sad" pressure of spending too much money on their nuptials, John Piper says.
Piper, the founder and teacher behind DesiringGod.org, addressed the topic of weddings in a recent blog post, calling on churches and couples to pave the way in forging a culture of simplicity in a world that is focused on highly elaborate weddings with expensive clothing, entertainment and food.
Instead of giving in to societal pressure for an expensive wedding, Piper suggests that nuptials be centered around "the Christ-exalting meaning of marriage, the awesome importance of the vows, the preciousness of the people, the lovers — and not the clothing, the flowers, the location, the music, the whole production that can make the actual act of God in marriage seem like an incidental prelude to the big, fancy party afterwards."
This is not to say that a couple shouldn't add special elements to their wedding if they are able to afford them. However, the main focus should be on joy and on God.
There is no correlation, Piper explains, between being rich and being joyful, suggesting that in fact excessive spending may lead to less joy, as it involves more stress, hassle and distraction.
"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," Piper adds.
Piper explains that as evangelical Christians, this push for simplicity can be noted in the change from the teaching of the Old Testament to the teaching of the New Testament. While the Old Testament preached a "come-and-see" religion, the New Testament preaches a "go-and-tell" religion.
Because evangelical Christianity is a "go-and-tell religion," the "revolution is in the use of our resources. What governs our lifestyle now is the effort to show that our treasure is in heaven and not on the earth," Piper explains.
The teaching of the New Testament pushes us away from luxury and toward simplicity, the theologian says.
Piper concludes his post by calling on young Christian couples and pastors alike to fight for a change in the current culture of weddings.
"Let the service and the Word and the vows and the Lord and the love be the main thing," Piper encourages, calling on couples "with backbone and radical Christian courage to stand against a culture and show what truth and beauty and joy can look like at one fourth the cost and one fourth the anxieties and one fourth the stress — and double the focus on the glory of Christ and the advancement of his kingdom."