It used to be said that we had more Baptists than kudzu in Alabama. Now there are a few less since I bade farewell to three on the same day.
A Baptist girl whom I had baptized, along with her mother, had a Roman Catholic wedding a few days ago. She took the faith of her husband. It was a gorgeous worship place and a beautiful wedding. In the realm of “it’s a small world,” Paul and Jan came over to say “hi” after the ceremony. Jan is a friend of the groom’s mother, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them at the event. I performed their wedding in Selma, Ala. many years ago—they reminded me it had been 30 years. This formerly Baptist couple told me they were “recovering Baptists,” now attending a PCA church.
Studies show that not only are people moving to different churches within their own denominations with greater frequency today, but many are moving to and fro among various denominations. They’re moving away from the churches of their childhood, or what Episcopalians call their “cradle church.” The denominational label takes a back seat to children’s programs, youth programs, worship styles, friendships, ministries, location and other factors.
I’m not sure what to make of this other than to recognize it’s a societal change about which we have little control. The fire marshal won’t let us lock them in!
But evangelicals teach that our young people shouldn’t marry outside their faith. This doesn’t mean outside their denomination; it means marrying someone with no faith. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Paul’s counsel was in accord with the Old Testament exhortation to Israel not to marry Canaanites who didn’t share their faith.
Of course one of the great stories in the Old Testament is about Ruth, a Moabite, who accepted Hebrew faith and became the great-grandmother of King David. But idol-worshipping Canaanites were not normally to be in the prospect pool for Hebrew marriages.
I spent 15 years at a Christian college. One day a student told me about her friend, devout in her faith, who was dating a “callow fellow” (as Tom Jones used to sing). I expressed surprise at her choice of dating material.
“Oh, she’s missionary dating,” the student told me.
Apparently, this concept means to date a ruffian with the intention of bringing him to Christ. I’ve always had doubts about the efficacy of this. The movie, “Grease,” demonstrated that the ruffian can bring the good girl low.
As far as marriage is concerned, the old adage is true: if a child of God marries a child of the devil, she will have trouble with her father-in-law.
“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.