Apostolic Weddings And Holiness
By Rev. Clyde J. Haney
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (Titus 2:11-12).
Our text was directed to Titus by the Apostle Paul concerning the Pastoral Ministry. The ungodliness of that present world (age) that was endangering the churches, no doubt was of great concern to the Apostle Paul. This text, however, in God’s great economy was intended to blanket every age and the word “present” must be accepted with a divine freshness to cover each ascending generation or age. The age of Paul’s day is history now, yet its evils for the people of that day were the most dangerous, for that was their age.
Let us accept the word “present” as God meant it to be. Present means at hand, not in the past or future, but in the NOW. There are sins that have always been with us and have never changed their robes of pollution, but each age seems to have a new presentation of evil. We are quite apt to recognize the common evils, but we often are snared by the presentation of present evils.
Pentecostals, and even the spiritual minded nominal church, for years stood against the theater. Few Pentecostals questioned the church’s stand on total abstinence. But when the scum of Hollywood came floating into the parlors over the ether waves, by medium of television, many sleeping Christians opened their homes and justified themselves by the reasoning that it was here to stay and soon all Christians would have one. Thank God, there are still thousands who say no to the theater whether in or out of the home.
Our reading tells us that God’s grace that bringeth salvation is teaching us, the Greek rendering says, Disciplining us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.
One of the modern evils practiced by Pentecostals and seemingly going unchallenged, is the modern wedding. If worldliness is in our hearts, it will break out somewhere. After his church had been employed for a supposedly Pentecostal wedding, a nominal preacher said to one of our ministers words to this effect – “Well, you are like us now; you have big elaborate weddings too. You used to be different.” Could it be that the difference was a disappointment to that nominal minister? Yes, we used to be different. Some of us can remember when Pentecostal men and women dressed modestly and conservatively even at their own wedding. Convictions were high enough to exclude the world in every act of life and especially in the sacred wedding.
Today, hundreds of dollars, and some even talk of a thousand dollars or more going into Pentecostal weddings. The answer some give to this wasteful, worldly expense is, “Well, it only happens once.”
That is all the more reason why it should be conducted in a godly manner, not allowing worldliness to creep in. In this occasion, we have only one opportunity to glorify God, by keeping it Godly.
The writer attended a Pentecostal wedding where the dress lines went far away from Pentecostal holiness standards. To such, the answer in effect has been given that it is a costume adopted for the wedding
like a uniform is in the professions. How ridiculous can we get? Does God change His standards of modest apparel to something else to accommodate the whims of a worldly minded bride or groom? Thank God, He is the same in this present age.
Perhaps, the greatest cause of this evil is the worldly fanfare of trying to keep up with the world. It is considered good taste for folks to dress and conduct such occasions within their means. How foolish to put on a show like socialites of the upper class and then not have enough money to buy a bed to sleep on without charging it. With souls dying without God and missionaries denying themselves the necessities of life, how can we stand in the sanctuary and look God in the face after such a practice and sing, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken?”
In a recent article in the Reader’s Digest, a minister who pastors a church of nearly 2000 membership, and had married more than 3000 young people, said, “I am not popular with the florists and bridal consultants. Years ago at a big wedding, more than $3,000 was spent on decoration for our sanctuary. After I went to the elders and deacons and said, Gentlemen, this church is being used for a purpose that is not consistent with Christian religion. Now the only decorations in our church for a wedding are white flowers at the altar. They cost $15. The poorest girl in Atlanta can have the same decorations at her wedding here as the daughter of a wealthy man. A wedding is a sacrament, not a show.”
If this man of a nominal church has strong convictions against expensive and showy weddings, what should be the stand of spirit filled Holiness ministers and saints? Does the pastor have a right, as did this man, to call a halt to wrong practices in the house of God? Yes, not only does he have a right, but as the overseer who must give account to God, he has a charge to keep. The pastor in this present age has a tremendous job and it doesn’t end when the sermon is finished. No godly pastor can afford to close his eyes to the carnal evils endeavoring to invade the church in this present age.
Can we live godly in such an age as this present one? Moses faced his present world in Egypt and refused to enjoy the pleasures of its sins for a season, refusing to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter. Daniel faced his present world in Babylon and refused to defile himself with the King’s meat. Joining in the great heroic march of conquerors are men like David and Samuel, who through their convicting faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions – not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection- of whom the world (their world of their age) was not worthy.
Shall we fail to conquer in our present world, or shall we join the great march of conquerors? God give us prophets in our pulpits and saints in our pews to match our mountains of this present age.