Category Archives: Defining Marriage

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings!

Ringgold, Georgia

Did you know that Ringgold, GA is the “Wedding Capital of the South”? Well, it is, and that’s because hundreds and hundreds of couples get married there every year.

And where do many, if not most of them choose to tie the knot? The Ringgold Wedding Chapel. Go check out their website and read about its history, including some of the more famous names who’ve gotten married there (Dolly Parton and Carl Dean, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Bob Harvey from Jefferson Airplane, etc.).

Anyway, I’ve been conducting weddings at the Ringgold Wedding Chapel for a few weeks, now. It’s been interesting, to say the least. 🙂

A Ministry

Some of you may think me crazy, or even a heretic, for agreeing to marry people in a wedding chapel. Believe me, I get it. There used to be a day when I wouldn’t do a wedding for anyone unless they first agreed to extended pre-marital counseling. Now, I marry people the same hour I meet them.

But why do I do it? You see, the people that come into the chapel to get married don’t just walk in and say, “Marry me!” No, they have to book the chapel and pay a fee, plus have all their paperwork in order. However, those that want to get married could just as easily go to a courthouse, but they don’t; they choose to be married by a minister.

If these couples are going to get married somewhere, no matter what, I figured why not seize the opportunity to present the Gospel to them through a ceremony that highlighted a biblical model of marriage? It’s not a perfect situation, but it’s a chance to plant a seed, if nothing else.

So, I wanted to share with you guys my wedding script. It’s what I read for each and every wedding, making adjustments as needed, sometimes adding more when appropriate. When the service is over, I give the couple the script I used (with their names written in the blanks) for a keepsake, Scripture references and all.

Wedding Ceremony

The Greeting

   Greetings, everyone! My name is Rev. Anthony Baker, and on behalf of __________________ and ________________, I would like to welcome you to this wonderful occasion.

   We are gathered together here, today, in the sight of God and all you witnesses, to join this man and this woman together in holy matrimony. It is holy because marriage was not invented in a court room or a judge’s chamber, but in ages past by God Himself. Therefore, it should not be taken lightly, but should be entered into reverently, advisedly, and in the fear of God.

   He is watching, and He will never forget the vows you two will be exchanging. And, not to leave anyone out, God also knows every one of you here as witnesses, and He will know whether or not you encourage and support this couple in the days and years to come.

   To Bride: ______________, are you willing to proceed with this ceremony? Answer: “I am.”

   To Groom: _______________, are you willing to proceed with this ceremony? Ans.: “I am.”

The Giving of the Bride (optional)

   Who gives this woman to be married to this man? Response: “I do,” “We do,” “Her mother and I do.”

Prayer

   Father in Heaven, Creator of all things, we thank you this day for your mercy and grace and for giving us the wonderful gift of marriage. Lord, please bless us with Your presence, bless the union of this bride and groom, and be glorified by all that is said and done today. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen!

Statement of Marriage

   As I mentioned before, marriage was not created by men, nor was it ordained in a courtroom; marriage was created by God Himself. We know this from reading the second chapter of Genesis. There, God created Adam, then Eve, and brought her to the man. Adam then said of Eve, “This is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Genesis 2:24 reads: “This is why a man shall leave his father and mother and bond with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

   Marriage is the institution in which God ordains a man and a woman to come together in love, with undying commitment, as a testimony to others of God’s love for us.

   When times get hard, you don’t run away, throw in the towel, and say, “I quit!” Why? Because Jesus, as our example, said to His disciples, “I will never leave you” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). As a further example to us, even after all we did to Him, after all He went through, He still carried the cross – He gave His all.

   Marriage is more than a 50/50 relationship; it’s 100% both ways. But even when one of you doesn’t live up to the other’s expectations – it will happen  – true love carries the extra burden, forgives, shows mercy and grace. That is one reason why the apostle Paul tells us in the 5th chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). The sacrificial love of Jesus was to be mirrored in the marriage relationship. To sum it up, Paul went on to say in verse 33: “…each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”

   _______________ and _______________, the greatest love of all, the truest love of all, is not a love that demands of each other, or expects of each other, but gives all that one has without any expectations. 1 John 4:10 (NLT) says, “This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Therefore, the greatest advice I can give is if you want a long-lasting, wonderful marriage, love each other more than yourself, for loving each other IS loving yourself.

The Vows

   _______________  and ______________, now that you understand something of the reason for marriage, are you ready now to confirm your commitment to each other, before God and these witnesses, by the saying of your vows?  Response: “We are.”

   Then please turn to each other and join hands.

   _______________ (groom), in taking ______________ to be your wife, do you so promise to honor, to love, and to cherish her in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in hardship as in blessing, until death alone shall part you?  Groom responds: “I do.”

   _______________ (bride), in taking ______________ to be your husband, do you so promise to honor, to love, and cherish him in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in hardship as in blessing, until death alone shall part you?  Bride responds: “I do.”

Do you have rings?

The Exchange of Rings

   You will now seal your vows “to honor, to love, and to cherish” by the giving and receiving of rings. I would like for you to look at your rings for just a moment. What you see is symbolic of two things. First, of course your rings are round. That symbolizes something that is never ending, a union that cannot be broken, and that is what your marriage should be.

   But secondly, I would like for you to think about the precious metal that these rings are made of. The metal is precious because it was hard to find and what it endured to become what you will wear. The metal in these rings went through a furnace, through testing, through times of purifying. Your marriage will also have times of trials and tribulation, times when you’ll be put through the fire. And when those times come, look at those rings you will be wearing and remember this: The longer you stay together, the more fires you endure, the more precious your marriage to each other will be.

  _______________ (groom), place the ring on ___________’s finger and repeat after me:

   Groom: “I, ________________, take you, ________________, to be my wedded wife to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Joyfully and willingly, I commit myself to you and to you alone.”

   ________________(bride), place the ring on _____________’s finger and repeat after me:

   Bride: “I, ________________, take you, ________________, to be my wedded husband to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Joyfully and willingly, I commit myself to you and to you alone.”

Prayer

   Gracious Father, we thank you for creating us in your image so that we might know You and what true love is. Through your power and blessing we ask You to enable these two to keep their vows and be renewed daily in their love and commitment to each other. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony (Optional)

The Pronouncement

   _______________ and ______________, we have witnessed the pledging of your love and commitment to each other, and the sealing of your vows by the exchanging of rings. Thereby, under the authority of God’s Word, and in accordance with the laws of the State of Georgia, it is my privilege to pronounce you husband and wife!

_____________ (groom), you may kiss your bride.

Introduction of Newlyweds:  I now present to you Mr. & Mrs. ______________________.

 

Officiated by: Rev. Anthony C. Baker, M.Min.

So, what do you think of my wedding script? Feel free to use it if you want.

What do you think of sharing the Gospel in this way?

Would you word anything differently?

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, ministry, places, Struggles and Trials

Girls, Take My Advice

What I’m Not

I know it may offend some of you, but I need to get this out in the open right from the start – I am not a woman, nor do I feel like one…and I don’t want to.

I am very happy to be a man – one born that way – with no desires to experience female-related problems. Those males who do desire to “feel like a woman” seem to want to avoid those problems, too. For example, I rarely hear it reported that a sex-change operation will promise one the glorious ability to experience menstruation, heat flashes, mood swings, or endometriosis; that doesn’t appear to be a selling point.

And now that I think about it, should I ever – which I won’t – decide to become a “female,” I tend to think multi-tasking and “women’s intuition” wouldn’t magically appear with the removal of my guy parts and the injection of estrogen. So, if I couldn’t have those two advantages, why become someone who has to worry about hair, makeup, heels, fabric combinations, etc., etc., etc.

Oh, and if you think what I just said was stereotypical and sexist, it might have been. And if it was, then why is it that men who say they want to become women can’t become women in the masculine context in which they were born? In other words, why is it that Bruce Jenner had to turn into the stereotypical vision of what a “woman” is “supposed” to look like? Why couldn’t he, and every other trans, stay the way they were instead of trying to fit into the box of the stereotype? There’s MUCH more that I could say on this issue, but I will digress.

What I Am

Like I said, I know I am not a woman, and I don’t want to be. And because I am not a woman, it might be hard for me to understand …scratch that… it’s nearly impossible for me to understand how women think. However, I do have some valuable insight based on years of experience with women; therefore, you might find it beneficial.

You see, even thought I am not an estrogen-producing sis-female (to be PC for once), I have lived a long time with a bunch of them. But what’s more important than what I don’t understand is what I DO understand, and that is the mind of a man.

I am a man… a red-blooded, stereotypical, gun-toting, testosterone-producing (no shots needed), stand-up-peeing kind of guy. I have a one-track mind, can compartmentalize like you wouldn’t believe, and love the smell of gunpowder in the morning.

What’s more, I am a faithful husband, a spiritual leader, and a father to three wonderful girls. That’s what I bring to the table today.

My Advice

My daughters (at least the two younger ones) are eventually going to find husbands, one probably sooner than the other. The advice I would like to leave with not only them, but all of you other girls out there, is what to look for in a man you will marry. Take it from me – a man – I know the difference between a good one and a not-right-now-put-him-back-on-the-shelf one.

10 Words of Advice to Girls Who Are Searching

  1. Know your own worth.
  2. Don’t settle.
  3. Find a man who loves God more than you. Matthew 6:33
  4. Life is like a trip through the Atlanta airport – even the smallest of baggage gets heavy after a while.
  5. Never, ever assume the man you meet will become the man you want. Ain’t gonna happen.
  6. Accept nothing less than a spiritual/moral leader you can respect; if he looks up to you more than you look up to him, ditch him.
  7. It’s better to be single than smothered, abused, and/or controlled.
  8. Know who you are, what you are, and Who’s you are, then find a man who accepts and compliments (yes, I used that word) all you desire to be.
  9. If he doesn’t honor and respect his or YOUR parents, then he will most likely never be the kind of parent worth respecting – and he might not live long (Matthew 15:4; Ephesians 6:2-3).
  10. Lastly, make sure you like his family, and he likes yours… and that your family likes him, too. Marriage is meant to grow family, not destroy it.

Look, you don’t have to agree with any of my advice, but it comes from years of experience and professional observation. You have a choice in the matters of love, so don’t let someone sweep you off your feet without first doing your homework.

When you let the wrong man sweep you off your feet, you’re likely to fall from arms that can’t hold you. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Defining Marriage, General Observations, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships and Family

Birds and Bees 2.0

The following is fiction, but based on a sad, tragic reality: children are growing up in a culture with no norms, no absolutes, and no foundations but the shifting sands of desire. The “birds and the bees” are not what they used to be.

Here’s a helpful link should you get confused with gender-related terms: CLICK HERE.


Teigan’s Story

Teigan was getting ready to leave school, when at that moment, just as soon as she exited the gender-neutral bathroom, she saw what looked to be a cis gender female with a large belly. Looking down at her own sun dress, she thought to herself, “I wonder if I could look like that?”

Teigan was just like any other gender-fluid child; gender was whatever the mood of the day dictated. Although born a male, Teigan’s parents refused to impose any stereotypical roles; they encouraged role experimentation and never referred to him as “son,” only “child.” Therefore, if Teigan wanted to wear a nice dress out to dinner with her parents, then her parents would select the most appropriate ribbon for her hair. If Teigan wanted to play ball with the other boys, he would put on his Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt and jeans and head out to the park. Teigan’s gender preferences were as fluid as water in a mountain stream, changing direction with every obstacle and shift in terrain.

Thinking of the cis female (a female who identifies as a woman/has a feminine gender identity) h- saw earlier at school, Teigan was excited to ask h- parents the question all adults dread: “Where do babies come from?” You see, there were times when Teigan wanted to be a mommy, just like the cis female h- had seen earlier. But it was the particulars of “how” that confused h-.

According to Facebook, there are over 58 different genders one could select when signing up for a new account, and Teigan knew there was no way h- could choose just one. Teigan was not a just a boy or a girl, h- was whatever h- felt that day…and that posed a problem. You see, Teigan had noticed that the only genders with large bellies (the ones with child) were typically cis females, along with the occasional gender questioning or FTM. In most cases, the one with the large belly never fluctuated gender like Teigan did. “How, then,” Teigan wondered, “could I get a big belly to show off my dress, but then wear blue jeans later with the cis boys?”

Teigan had gotten gold stars for paying attention in h- sex education classes. H- had learned all about how tadpoles and eggs become something called a parasite, or fetus… but h- was still confused. The time had come to ask his parents.

“Dad, Papa, where do babies come from, and how can I have one?” Teigan asked.

Teigan’s father’s eyes shot over at his husband’s with a look of “what do we say?” Dad sat down his latte and replied, “Papa will tell you all about it.” Papa, realizing his husband would only end up acting like a wife if he refused, agreed to give Teigan a thumbnail sketch of the new “birds and bees,” or as it’s understood today, “Birds and Bees 2.0.”

Papa began: “You see, Teigan, when a loving couple wants to have a baby, depending on their gender, sexual orientation, or surgeries that may have been performed, they might go to bed and hold each other really close. At that point, when they get really, really close, a baby is made.” Papa continued: “For others, they just go to bed and wake up the next morning, after which they decide to go have a baby made for them.”

Teigan, still a little confused, then asked, “But how can I get a big belly and have a baby, too?” With excitement, Teigan added: “It would be fun to waddle around like the cis female I saw at school – I think she was a teacher – and wear a big, pretty dress! If I fall in love and get really close can I get a big belly and have a baby, too?”

“I’m sorry, Teigan, but we haven’t evolved that far…yet,” Teigan’s other father, Dad, said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what Mrs. Clinton can do.”

Heartbroken, little Teigan began to cry. As the tears began to wash away h- sparkly blush, h- whimpered, “But I want to have a belly like those cis females who are always cis females.”

“Maybe someday,” said Papa. “Yes, maybe someday,” said Dad.

“In the meantime,” Papa asked with a smile, “why don’t we go get some ice cream?”

Awesome!” exclaimed Teigan. “What should I wear?”


My Thoughts

When I was a child, a long time ago, my dad told me the “facts of life,” which included the “birds and bees” info. Included in that awkward lecture, however, were references back to the book of Genesis, where we are told God made “male and female,” not cis male and cis female. It was certainly a simpler time.

What are we doing to our children? What kind of harvest are we going to reap after sowing such seeds of confusion? Are all the options we’re creating in order to satisfy and coddle a morally bankrupt and confused generation going to strengthen familial bonds? Will the term family even survive the next generation?

God’s Thoughts

And [Jesus] answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made [them] at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh‘? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Matthew 19:4-6 NKJV

 All comments will be strictly monitored.

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, Defining Marriage, Humor, Relationships and Family

Responding to Temptation

Young Woman,

I don’t care how young you are, 20’s or whatever. I don’t care how pretty you are, at least what I can see. I don’t care how much fun and full of energy you are; I’m not. I don’t care how much you want to please me. I don’t even care how much you care about me, or how much you need me. 

You see, whatever you have to offer, no matter what it may be, is not worth my marriage. No amount of “love making” could compare to the love that’s been built over the last 23 years with my wife. 

I love my wife and I love my God who gave her to me. I love my daughters and the trust they place in me. Nothing you can offer is worth what I’d have to give up. 

Lastly, marriage is designed to be symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Because of this, and because of the gospel, I will remain faithful to my wife because Jesus is faithful to me. 

In other words, I’m not interested in what you have to offer. 

Respectfully,

Happily Forever-Married Man

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Divorce, Marriage, Relationships and Family

22 Years With the “Good Thing”

It has been twenty-two years since Valerie and I said, “I do.” I’m glad I did.

Since then we have had our share of good days and bad days, great days and hellacious ones. Yet, through it all, we’ve stayed together in a holy union, a relationship bound together by the Holy Spirit. Even through the worst of times our love for each other has grown, making every day a “good” day.

When God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” I think He was thinking of me more than Adam. He knew that I would have been a pitiful mess apart from the “good thing” He allowed me to find (Prov. 18:22).

We are not as young as we used to be, which should be obvious. We don’t move as quickly, and when we do move it’s often with pain. Yet, our hearts are still young. That is why people who are truly in love can always find Proverbs 5:18 applicable: “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”

This morning, before we got out of bed, Valerie asked me, “Would you do it again, especially knowing what you know now?” I immediately replied with a “Yes!” Oh, I could hear the regrets in her question, and I knew exactly what she was talking about. But when I started to address the question the bigger picture of God’s providence and grace came into view.

I said, “Yes, I would do it again, but I would do some things differently after the fact.” Yet, when she asked what I would do differently, hardly anything would come to mind.

“Well, first of all, I would…wait…” You see, even when I look back on the things we did wrong I see the mighty, sovereign hand of God at work. Where would I be had I not made those mistakes? Where would I be had I not been young and foolish? If we had done everything perfectly, where would we be today? Oh, I’m not advocating screwing up, but it has been through our brokenness, our failures, and our mistakes that God has been able to work in the lives of others.

Had we done everything perfectly, the only people we would be able to minister to would be perfect people; we wouldn’t have been able to understand anyone else. Our heavenly Father knew this; that’s why He let us fall…into His arms of grace.

So, yes, even 22 years in, I’d do it all over again. The only things I do wish I could have done differently is pray more often for wisdom, spend more time in God’s Word, and save when the times were good.

Happy anniversary, Valerie. You’re the best “good thing” ever!

wedding picture two

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Filed under Defining Marriage, Life Lessons, Relationships and Family

Prayer for My Wife

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

It is a good day, and it doesn’t matter what is going on – God made this day! And, for that matter, He makes every day, and what He makes is good.

How, then, can one reconcile the truth of Psalm 118:24 with the fact that my wife is in the hospital and doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with her? God is Sovereign, Holy, and by nature He is Good; therefore, I will trust Him.

photo (28)Nevertheless, I would ask that you intercede for my wife, Valerie, with prayer. Lift her up before the throne of God. Petition our Father for her healing, if it be within His will. Pray that God enlighten the doctors’ understanding so that that they may be able to diagnose her pain. But whatever the case, make sure you pray that through all our struggles and unanswered questions Jesus Christ receives the glory!

Remember, because many within the hospital community never go to church, sometimes God has to put the church in the hospital.

Thank you!

Update: Dear friends and subscribers, your prayers and encouragement have meant a lot. Thank you so much for your caring kindness. 

Valerie was discharged from the hospital this evening (2/22) with instructions to follow up with her regular doctor and a cardiologist. Unfortunately, while at the hospital, they were unable to find the reason for her pain. What also became obvious was her inability to stay awake for any length of time, actually falling asleep after only 30 seconds on the telephone (she does take meds to stay awake, but without them she is useless – she wasn’t able to take them while in the hospital – and they can’t determine the cause).

Valerie is no longer in pain (it was severe) except when she tries to lie down – when she does she suffers from crushing pain and the inability to breath. With some fluid around her heart, one would think there are heart problems. However, multiple tests were done and the doctors concluded her heart was in good condition and there had been no heart attack, no blockages, or anything. So, what the heck could it be???

Un-diagnosed illnesses can cause a strain on family and relationships, not to mention work and family routines. The stress has a tendency to stretch our abilities to cope. What we need more than anything right now is prayer for our spiritual hearts – especially mine – that we will remain compassionate, caring, and hopeful, not cynical or accusatory. Frankly, when we’re tired and worn is when the Devil tries to flank us, to cut us off from our Supply. That’s why we need you interceding for us.

So, right now Valerie is in good spirits and not in much pain, unless she tries to lie down. Please pray that future visits to specialists will provide answers. In the meantime we will do our best, in God’s strength, to give thanks in all things, for He is worth of our praise.

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Filed under Apologetics, Defining Marriage, Marriage, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, worship

The Supreme Court Decided, Now So Must We

Folks, let’s be honest and get right to the point: all Hell is about to break loose upon the Christian church, its leadership, and anyone who dares hold on to the biblical definition of marriage. Make no mistake, demonic forces are gleefully frothing at the mouth, along with those they are influencing, at the buffet of litigious opportunity that has now been afforded them.

At this point you’ve no doubt hear the news: the Supreme Court has redefined marriage to be whatever makes a person happy, therefore making it a constitutionally protected right.

Because of today’s ruling, we will be seeing attacks on the Church and Christians from every conceivable angle. They will use today’s decision as the basis for ending tax-exemption, closing churches, and imprisoning ministers. The rainbowed sky is the limit.

Supporters of the new law will threaten and intimidate Christians in the workplace; deny benefits and contracts; force Christian colleges to close; refuse degrees from Christian universities; encourage investigations by DHS and Child Protective Services; silence free speech; and a long list of other things. Without doubt, the LGBTQ agenda is the tool of the new cultural cleansing that the enemies of American conservatism and freedom have long dreamed of.

But what now? What must we do? Well, I was sent the following link to an article by Jay Richards. I would encourage all of you to read it.

The Supreme Court Redefines Marriage: What We Must Do | The Stream.

Also, I want to forward a link to an article in the Baptist Press which includes statements from Southern Baptist leaders. I stand in agreement with them.

http://www.bpnews.net/45036/54-marriage-decision-christians-will-stand-fast

But as easy as it would be to throw up one’s hands and quit, now is not the time. Frankly, now is the time for the wheat to be separated from the tares. Now is the time for those who have long said there is a line they will not cross to not cross that line.

I have made my decision: I will not cross that line.

 

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, current events, Defining Marriage, Struggles and Trials