Being a pastor of a church that has young adults coming into it continually, I have the great honor of being asked to officiate weddings frequently. However, I myself do not make it to the wedding altar with them.
Here’s how it usually goes: A couple starts dating, falls in love, gets engaged and part of planning their wedding is to find a pastor to marry them. But they need to find a church first in order to find a pastor. They think that finding a pastor is like finding a DJ or finding a photographer or finding a caterer – something to check off. They think, Okay, we found a dude to marry us, onto the next item.
So they come to our church, listen to one of my messages, like what they hear or how they feel and then they reach out to me to officiate their wedding so they can check that part off their to-do list.
When they sit down with me, they are very surprised at the process I go through.
I sit down with the couple initially to find out about their faith and love for Jesus. We walk through their testimony. We walk through their spiritual background. We walk through how they view the Bible. We walk through their physical contact and sexual activity. We walk through their view of marital roles and their goals in the relationship. We walk through money and children and communication and conflict.
That’s just the first session. We don’t talk about how they met or what they love about the other or how the wedding plans are going. That can come later. Those are easy questions to answer. Session one is about who really has their heart.
If desired, I meet with them 3-4 more times for pre-marital counseling and then have the couple over to my home for dinner with my family where they can meet my wife, so, after the honeymoon feelings of romance fade and the reality of marriage hits them, the groom can reach out to me and the bride can reach out to my wife.
This past summer a couple came to the church I serve, reached out to me to officiate their wedding and I happily scheduled a meeting with them.
After session one with me I gave the advice that they should reconsider being engaged at this point, that they should slow the relationship down, and here’s why:
She was a Jesus-follower and was pro-life.
He was indifferent about Jesus (which meant he was against Him) and was pro-choice.
Pro-life/pro-choice might not seem like such a big deal to pause a relationship over, but their opinion on pro-life/pro-choice was an outflowing belief of where their identity and faith were at.
While the couple wasn’t happy with me, and while they haven’t been back to the loving church I’m a part of, it got me thinking on reasons as a parent I will encourage my children to date someone who is pro-life.
It’s not enough for an engaged person to say their boyfriend/girlfriend is fine if they go to church or owns a Bible or calls themselves a Christian. Specific beliefs and values need to be talked through because what Jesus says and what each person in the relationship says can have long-term, harmful ramifications.
While in marriage compromise is a beautiful, selfless result when there’s a conflict with differing views, in the pro-life and pro-choice debate, there is not a third, comprising option (which, it’s astounding that 39% of Americans don’t take a firm stance on pro-life or pro-choice. We’re not even thinking about this issue).
For all the pro-life singles who love Jesus, if one of my children told me they were wanting to pursue a serious relationship with someone who is pro-choice, here’s why I would caution against it:
- The authority in your life is Jesus Christ and Scripture. The authority in their life is their opinion. On each topic of conversation, you’ll go to the Bible and they’ll go to their heart and many times it could be far apart. Your truth will never change, theirs will.
- You hold onto the truth in Scripture that human life is above/superior to the animal kingdom. You align yourself with God’s view that humans have a soul and a conscious, that humans are created in the image of God. A pro-choice person doesn’t hold those beliefs.
- Hypothetically, if the unborn child you are carrying ends up having a serious form of birth defect or a health/physical/mental complication, the conclusion of going through the pregnancy with your differing spouse could be a conversation about life or death.
- Hypothetically, if a future pregnancy becomes a reality during a circumstantially difficult time in the marriage (loss of job, emotional instability, lots of debt), there could be pressure from your spouse to end the life of the child. Both #3 and #4 have enormous and maybe even irreconcilable results.
- If the person you are dating/engaged to doesn’t think about children in the womb biblically, it’s a good bet that they will not have a biblical lens when it comes to raising godly children either.
- Jesus tells us that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). The hot topic of pro-life and pro choice is more serious than him liking Michigan football and her liking Ohio State or him liking hip hop music and her liking country music. This issue brings division (the word division literally means two separate visions). The marriage is supposed to be “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31). One name. One bed. One bank account. One home. One vision for the family. One authority (Bible). One Jesus. No division.
- While doable, it is a daily, relational hardship serving someone who disagrees with God on the sanctity of human life.
Thanks for reading and for taking dating seriously! You are loved.
[For further reading on abortion, check out my blog here]