by Jerry W. Pounds, Sr.
NEW ORLEANS -- Fox News recently reported a quicker way of getting things done ... at least for the sacred union of marriage. "Drive-Through Weddings Offered at Florida Store for $20," a headline on the news channel's website read. When you thought that it could not get any worse than the hastily planned Las Vegas wedding ceremony, now meet the "drive-through wedding."
I suppose we should not be completely surprised. Many of us were raised on a not-so-balanced diet of fast food treats and quick fixes. In fact, even Beaver Cleaver showed us how a problem could be identified, worked on and resolved in 30 minutes. Thus, we learned to want "it" more and we wanted "it" quicker. Now the list has grown, mushroomed, and exploded -- anything we want fast, we get it fast.
But back to the drive-through wedding. The owner of the drive through-wedding store, Rev. Sharon Burnett, 58, a notary public and nondenominational minister, opened a "Mother Earth Goddess metaphysical store" in July in what used to be a dry-cleaning business. Apparently she had these sliding glass doors in place, which at one time were convenient for the dry-cleaning customers of the previous owners. What was an entrepreneur to do?
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So Burnett thought up the wedding drive-through. But tell me why Rev. Burnett could not just use these conveniently placed doors to shop her wares of books, CDs, crystals, herbs, candles, stones, orbs, oil burners, and other items necessary for the hurried folks who need the tools to help them in their search for knowledge and enlightenment? Her response: "Behind-the-wheel weddings" are "no different than standing at the courthouse." She may have a point there.
The Rev. Burnett "has yet to officiate any in-vehicle vows," Fox News reported. Finally some good news! However, this could also mean the marketing has just started and she's just now Windexing the windows for her first customers. And that's not good at all.
So here's what we should remind ourselves from this $20 offer for a "simple civil ceremony." Our culture has gradually, and over time, craftily convinced a large group of us that getting into marriage should be fast, cheap, convenient, painless and easy. We are getting closer and closer to removing the sacredness of marriage from the meaning of marriage.
I cannot imagine that a great deal of biblical counseling is going on at the window, or inside for that matter, though she does offer "religious/spiritual" ceremonies for those who are so inclined. Other than a signed wedding certificate, a receipt for $20 of services rendered, and a brochure of products that can be ordered online, what more does a couple have in order to start their lives together? They might as well stay in the car with their engine running as they plan their drive to the divorce lawyer's office (or drive-through window).
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God has ordained marriage. It is His desire that this relationship be between a man and a woman for life. It is a covenant relationship that reflects the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. It is not a contract that can be drawn up online, in an office or at a drive-through window. It grows over time through love, faithfulness and commitment, and not by way of any metaphysical concoctions. It takes selfless devotion and unending work. And it takes lots of this kind of work. The life of the Holy Spirit who resides in and reigns through believers, His children, empowers us to make our marriage His testimony of God's own love and devotion to us.
So the next time you drive up to a window and expect service, remind yourself that our devotion and service to our Lord is not cheap, quick or even convenient. God wants the very best for all of our marriages. And our very best belongs to Him.
Jerry W. Pounds, Sr. is assistant to the president and professor of discipleship at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.