Matt asks: Hey Eric I have a random question for you! I know your religious and I am getting married soon. We are planning on just Vegas civil marriage because it is cost effective and easier. I was thinking about a church instead. They are everywhere but we are not members of any.. I guess the question is can I just walk in there and ask for us to get married by an ordained minister?
Here was my response, edited for grammar and clarity:
Hi Matt! thanks for the question! I’m floating 30,000 feet in the air right now on my way to Seattle for work. I could spend a lot of time on this answer but I’ll keep it relatively short so you can get an answer from me…
Thankfully Christ came so that we can simply put our faith in him so that we don’t have to be “religious”! We’re all completely dead and lost without that truth, and what I mean by that is that no good we do can ever merit an eternity by God’s side. He won’t be insulted with that, but instead, freely gives us his grace. It’s like a Christmas present. Your parents WILL NOT allow you to pay for your Christmas presents. Likewise, we can’t do anything to pay for “salvation” the saving of our souls from eternal death. We simply believe in and trust in Christ and thereby accept his gift of life. Any good things I do are simply a thank you to him for the gift he already gave.
Now that we have cleared up that I am not “religious” in the common use of the word, I’ll attempt an answer at your question. 🙂 Can you walk in a church and ask the pastor to marry you and your wife? Generally, yes. If you came to my church, we would say something like, please spend an hour a week with us for a certain amount of weeks so we can make sure we are on the same page. After all, what makes a Vegas wedding different from a christian wedding is the Christ part of it. What you might expect is something like a class; since the pastor likely doesn’t know you, he will want to find out whether you are in fact a Christian (a believer and follower of Christ). If not, he may ask why it is that you want to be married by a Christian pastor, and maybe, over the course of the weeks leading up to the wedding, you actually discover that you are in fact a Christian. That could be as easy as just affirming the first part of my message here: that you believe that God became the man Jesus Christ, died in our place, and rose from the grave, so that all who believe will have everlasting life.
Some pastors may also want to have a couple sessions where they counsel you on some marriage topics, like making sure you have both already answered difficult questions that, if they come up DURING the marriage, could ruin the marriage. (For example, how many kids do you want? Do you even want kids?)
I actually did all of this with a friend of mine and his now wife (I counseled and married them).
The bottom line is that, a good pastor will want to make sure that 1. Christ is honored and 2. you get the most joy out of your christian marriage. A bad pastor will say, “Sure I’ll marry you, just tell me when, and pay me $200, and you’re all set.”
Where are you living? I can see if I know any of the pastors in your area. I LOVE talking about this kind of thing and would be happy to continue discussing it with you. Let me know if any of this helps or if you have questions!