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John_C
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#36413 - Mon May 07, 2007 7:11 AM Engagement Ceremony  
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john Offline
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As I stated in another thread, I've recently become engaged. By that I mean, that I asked her to marry me, she said yes, and I went and got the permission of her family (and mine).

The church I attend has a tradition of having an engagement ceremony for formally announcing engagements. The ceremony is basically announcing your engagement before the congregation and formally making vows to each other that you will get married, also before the congregation. Growing up in the U.S., I had personally never seen this before until I came to my present church in Japan. I was wondering what others thought of this custom? Is it Biblically necessary to have a formal engagement ceremony before the church to be "formally" engaged (I'm speaking for Christians)? Of course, I am not opposed to doing it and it may very well be a good thing, but I don't see it as a requirement. I just feel like if we don't do it, I'm worried some people might not consider our engagement proper, which in some ways makes me think it's a little too legalistic.

I found a little bit in the Westminster supporting documents that only say the engagement should be announced at least a few Sundays before the wedding (a long cry from what we have now of months to plan a wedding).
http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_standards/p369-direct_pub_worship.html#contents

For the married people of the board, what did you do for your engagement? Just asking her? Her and then parents? Formal ceremony?

Thanks,
John

#36414 - Tue May 08, 2007 1:10 PM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: john]  
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Wes Offline
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John,

I think you'll find a good answer to your question here. First the families should agree to the union, then a public announcement, and finally the marriage.

I don't know what it's like in Japan but here in America we see quite a contrast to the biblical norm. Because of selfish interests we see a different attitude toward committed relationships. Divorces are rampant both in society at large as well as in the church.

In biblical times an engagement was a binding contract that could only be broken by divorce or death. If we look at Joseph and Mary we see an example that illustrates this. (Matthew 1:18-25) Even though they were only engaged when Joseph found Mary to be pregnant he wanted to put her away privately by giving her a bill of divorcement. He probably would have done this had not the angel of the Lord intervened. The point is that he was already looked at as Mary's husband even though they were yet to be wed.

On a more personal note I remember how nervous I was when I approached my wife's father and asked him for the hand of his daughter. We had been dating for over three years when I did this. Having received his blessing I asked her to marry me. That was 43 years ago. At that time one of the ways we made a public announcement of our engagement was to use the local newspaper and as well as the church bulletin. We didn't have any kind of formal engagement ceremony but we did have a traditional formal wedding at a later date. One of the ways we involved the entire congregation was to invite them to the wedding ceremony.


Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
#36415 - Tue May 08, 2007 5:59 PM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: Wes]  
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Wes said:
John,

I think you'll find a good answer to your question here. First the families should agree to the union, then a public announcement, and finally the marriage.
Wes


We have already finished #1 and working on #3. I guess the question is about #2. Of course, we have already announced to many of our friends and co-workers that we are engaged. I asked my pastor earlier this week to either put it in the church bulletin that we are engaged or allow me make an announcement after church (or both). From his response, I somewhat got the feeling that we needed to have an engagement ceremony to make the engagement official. That is what spurred my initial question; the idea that a simple announcement to the church was not sufficient. It's not the idea of an engagement ceremony that makes me leery (it's a good idea I think), it's the idea that one is necessary (Biblically?) or the engagement is not official that makes us feel a little awkward. I will talk with my pastor more about it this Sunday, but I wanted to get an idea what others thought about the issue first.

Quote

I don't know what it's like in Japan but here in America we see quite a contrast to the biblical norm. Because of selfish interests we see a different attitude toward committed relationships. Divorces are rampant both in society at large as well as in the church.


I definitely agree with you here.

Quote

On a more personal note I remember how nervous I was when I approached my wife's father and asked him for the hand of his daughter. We had been dating for over three years when I did this. Having received his blessing I asked her to marry me. That was 43 years ago. At that time one of the ways we made a public announcement of our engagement was to use the local newspaper and as well as the church bulletin. We didn't have any kind of formal engagement ceremony but we did have a traditional formal wedding at a later date. One of the ways we involved the entire congregation was to invite them to the wedding ceremony.
Wes


I was nervous too approaching her father. However, I asked her first before I asked him with the condition that we had to get her parents' permission. We will have a formal wedding ceremony.

John

#36416 - Tue May 08, 2007 6:47 PM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: john]  
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Where were you when you proposed to her and were there any special circumstances? How did she respond? I know she said "yes" but would you care to describe what else she did?

I wonder if others on the discussion board care to share their special experiences relative to their engagements.


Wes <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
#36417 - Wed May 09, 2007 6:55 AM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: Wes]  
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Quote
Wes said:
Where were you when you proposed to her and were there any special circumstances? How did she respond? I know she said "yes" but would you care to describe what else she did?

I wonder if others on the discussion board care to share their special experiences relative to their engagements.


Wes <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />


I'm not sure exactly what you mean by special circumstances. It was very special to us of course. If you mean by special that there was some special event with others, then, no, it was only the two of us. I proposed in Kamakura, Japan beside the Pacific ocean near sunset. It was a little cold and windy, which was good since it meant the beach was almost empty. The sound of the waves was very relaxing. In fact they were a little too loud since I couldn't quite catch her answer the first time and had to confirm she in fact said yes. Then we took some pictures with each other as best we could by holding the camera out with one arm. After that, we sat on the beach for a while and just talked until we were both cold enough that we decided to go.

John

#36418 - Wed May 09, 2007 8:22 AM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: john]  
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John,

That's a beautiful setting and a very romantic one. What a good idea to have a camera to record the event. I presume those are the photos you sent to me. You make a beautiful couple.

My proposal was a far less beautiful setting. Since we had been dating for several years it didn't seem inappropriate but it was a real surprise to her because I chose to propose to her on the night she graduated from High School. When I brought her to school on that special night we stood in front of our school by the flag pole and I asked her to marry me. When she answered yes I placed an engagement ring on her finger and she proceeded through the graduation ceremony as the center of attention of many of her friends. We have often passed by that old flag pole and reminisced that special joyous event. We were married a year later.

I wasn't as smart as you to bring a camera along.


Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
#36419 - Wed May 09, 2007 10:25 AM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: john]  
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Quote
john said:
From his response, I somewhat got the feeling that we needed to have an engagement ceremony to make the engagement official. That is what spurred my initial question; the idea that a simple announcement to the church was not sufficient. It's not the idea of an engagement ceremony that makes me leery (it's a good idea I think), it's the idea that one is necessary (Biblically?) or the engagement is not official that makes us feel a little awkward.

John,

From my vantage point it could be that this "engagement ceremony" may be seen as Adiaphora IF it is something which has come about by way of the culture or the tradition of that particular church. The ceremony certainly doesn't violate any biblical principle or law. However, IF this church would insist that engagements are ONLY recognized as legitimate if the couple participates in the "engagement ceremony", that is another matter. One would have to ask if they would therefore judge any other engagement of couples who did not participate in an identical ceremony to be fraudulent or even adulterous? If so, then that would be Pharisaism. Asking further, Would a couple (church members) who refused to participate in the "engagement ceremony" be barred from being married by the pastor of that church? And one other question I would have is, How does this church look upon the marriages of couples who did not participate in this "engagement ceremony"?.

In His grace,


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#36420 - Sat May 12, 2007 9:14 AM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: Pilgrim]  
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john Offline
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Quote
Pilgrim said:

From my vantage point it could be that this "engagement ceremony" may be seen as Adiaphora IF it is something which has come about by way of the culture or the tradition of that particular church. The ceremony certainly doesn't violate any biblical principle or law. However, IF this church would insist that engagements are ONLY recognized as legitimate if the couple participates in the "engagement ceremony", that is another matter. One would have to ask if they would therefore judge any other engagement of couples who did not participate in an identical ceremony to be fraudulent or even adulterous? If so, then that would be Pharisaism. Asking further, Would a couple (church members) who refused to participate in the "engagement ceremony" be barred from being married by the pastor of that church? And one other question I would have is, How does this church look upon the marriages of couples who did not participate in this "engagement ceremony"?.

In His grace,


Pilgrim,

Those are some excellent questions. In fact, so excellent, I pretty much asked them all directly to my pastor. Thankfully, the church's view of the engagement ceremony is not what I thought at first. It is up to the two who are engaged and is not required. After talking with my pastor, I think it is a very nice way for two people to express their commitment to one another. My fiancee and I have not decided whether we will do it or not, but we are much more comfortable with the idea now.

John

#36421 - Sat May 12, 2007 9:20 AM Re: Engagement Ceremony [Re: Wes]  
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Quote
Wes said:
My proposal was a far less beautiful setting. Since we had been dating for several years it didn't seem inappropriate but it was a real surprise to her because I chose to propose to her on the night she graduated from High School. When I brought her to school on that special night we stood in front of our school by the flag pole and I asked her to marry me. When she answered yes I placed an engagement ring on her finger and she proceeded through the graduation ceremony as the center of attention of many of her friends. We have often passed by that old flag pole and reminisced that special joyous event. We were married a year later.

I wasn't as smart as you to bring a camera along.

Wes


Wes,

I think it is not the setting that makes a proposal beautiful/romantic, but the two people involved and their feelings and commitment to each other. The beach is nice of course, but I think the way you proposed to your wife is equally beautiful and romantic.

Can't say I was too smart about carrying the camera. It just happened to be in my bag. Regardless, every cell phone now has a camera better than mine, so we each had an extra one anyway.

john


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