Rocky Mount Baptist Church Wedding Policy

At Rocky Mount Baptist Church we believe the purpose of Church-related weddings is not simply to provide a site and officiate for marriages. It is our desire to help establish Christian homes with Biblical values that both honor and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

Specific requirements for those wishing to be married at Rocky Mount Baptist Church

  1. Both the bride and groom must individually confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and have followed in believer’s baptism by immersion. RMBC will not marry unbelievers, nor join a believer to a non-believer in marriage.
  2. RMBC requires that one if not both the bride and groom be members of RMBC to use the church facilities for the marriage ceremony. RMBC does not host non-member weddings.
  3. RMBC will not marry couples who are living together or who are physically intimate. Couples involved in this must move apart and covenant to abstain from a sexual relationship until their wedding day.
  4. All couples are required to go through a 6-week premarital counseling with a pastor prior to the wedding.
  5. No remarriages after divorce will be performed until at least one year from the time the divorce is legally finalized.
  6. The wedding ceremony, either formal or informal will be done in a worshipful manner. The pastor will work with the couple to help this happen.
  7. If a wedding planner or bridal consultant is used he or she will work with the pastor on all aspects of the ceremony. At no time shall such a person feel that they have the authority to overrule a decision by the pastor.
  8. If an outside pastor will be used in part of the service, he must first be approved by the RMBC staff.

 

Building use

  1. No alcoholic beverages of any kind may be consumed or served on church premises.
  2. No smoking or use of tobacco products inside church facility.
  3. Birdseed or rice may not be used. Some use wedding bubbles upon the exit of the bride and groom.
  4. Dancing is not allowed in the church facility.
  5. The organ is not available to outside musicians unless first cleared through the music minister.
  6. The sound system may only be run by the trained media team of RMBC who must be paid for his/her time.

 

Just to be clear here are a few points that hopefully provides some further explanation:

1) Christ commands all people everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel. Mark 1:15 states, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” This repentance is what many people call “getting saved.” Salvation/repentance/getting saved is turning away from trusting in one’s self and to Christ alone for salvation. Receiving a genuine heart change from God is the foundation of a stable marriage and family (Ephesians 5:22-6:1-4). Marrying a Christ-follower with a person who refuses to obey Christ is not only unwise, it also violates the biblical command not to be “unequally yoked.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” Because we take God’s Word seriously we cannot in good conscience marry a Christ-follower to a non-Christ-follower.

2) Christ’s first command for new believers is to be publicly baptized by immersion. This does not include infant baptism or sprinkling since neither of which

a) involve the baptism candidate’s assent (Acts 2:38; Matthew 3:6; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12, 37; 10:47, 48.)

b) picture the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Believer’s baptism by immersion is an act that publicly identifies the baptism candidate with Christ. Baptism is a church ordinance (something Christ gave to the church to administer to new believers). Baptism not only identifies a person with Christ but also with the local church. Here are several points on baptism we cover in our Membership Class

Mode of baptism: immersion

  • Matt. 3:13-16; Mk. 1:9-10; Jn. 3:23; Acts 8:38-39

Meaning of baptism: symbol of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection

  • Col. 2:12, Rom 6:3-6
  • Sprinkling does not picture Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Model of baptism: Baptism follows belief

  • Acts 2:41, 8:12, 36, 37

What about infant baptism?

  • No clear biblical evidence of infant baptism
  • Comparing infant baptism to circumcision is a non sequitur
  • Infant baptism muddles the waters of understanding the point of salvation. If baptism is to follow belief then how can infants qualify?

 

John MacArthur explains infant baptism as follows:

The Lutheran church following the lead of Martin Luther, Luther never shook the grave clothes of infant baptism…What a travesty on New Testament teaching. The Reformed churches, their view is that when adults turn to Christ, they are only to be sprinkled. Where does that come from? That’s just been invented. They’re sprinkled because they’re in covenant relationship to God. Their children, because the adults are now in covenant relationship to God, are also brought into covenant relationship to God, included in the covenant and are to be sprinkled as, quote, “little members of the Covenant.” Later they’ve confirmed as actual members after satisfactorily answering the questions in the catechism. You’ve got all of this floating around in Christianity, confusing the issue.[1]

 

We hold to the Baptist Faith and Message (2000), which explains baptism as:

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.[2]

3) It is very difficult, except in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40) a unique situation to say the least, to separate baptism and the local church. In the New Testament we see baptism not only as identification with Christ but also identification with the local church. For this reason, we believe it is very difficult if not impossible to separate baptism and church membership. Although church membership is required for use of the church facilities, our ministers may officiate off-campus weddings for non-members who are baptized believers on a case-by-case basis per the direction of the minister.

4) Christian marriage is more than two people claiming to be in love. Christian marriage is two people believing they have been led together by God for His glory. Christian marriage is not just about two people who have feelings for one another but having the church community (faith family of a local church) affirm the union. God uses family, wise friends, and the local church to assist in this journey. Too often people have rejected counsel from church leadership and later suffered from hidden issues that could have been resolved. Here are a few questions to consider concerning the local church and marriage: As a professing Christian, to what extent are you willing to receive counsel from godly church leadership (pastors, elders, deacons, etc.)? Are you willing to be corrected and counseled or are you looking for a clergyman to rubber stamp what you’ve already decided to do? How many seasoned Christ-followers and godly church leaders have been consulted in your pursuit of marriage? God has placed leadership within the church not to micromanage people’s lives but to provide sound, spiritual guidance.

5) The reason why we do not marry couples who are cohabitating is because cohabitation circumvents God’s process for marriage. Genesis 1:24 reads, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Notice that a man leaves his father and mother, to establish a new household, for his wife. Establishing a new household means marriage, not cohabitation with one’s girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé. Does it follow that sex before marriage always happens in cohabitation? Not necessarily. So why do we ask couples to move apart for a time and then get married?

a) Cohabitation astronomically increases temptation. If you love and are attracted to someone then why would you place yourself in a compromising situation with them 24/7? If you truly love them you will not cause them the mental anguish of guilt which is what premarital sex produces. It is extremely unwise to place yourself a compromising situation. There’s nothing more compromising than living together. There’s no “out” when things get hot and heavy. Feeding temptation is extremely unwise.

b) Cohabitation presents a bad testimony to others. While it may be possible, although highlyunlikely, that couples that cohabitant remain sexually pure, a rational outsider is going to think there’s more going on than Bible studies and Platonic conversations.

c) Cohabitation dishonors the woman (many in our culture would dispute this point but a woman’s honor and a woman’s purity are inextricably linked). Instead of the man being a man and treating his girlfriend like a lady, he’s circumvented the entire process. A man is concerned about his woman’s honor. A man sleeping with his girlfriend is biblically immoral but moving in with her is to broadcast to the world that she is fornicating with a man who is unwilling to make a commitment to her. Cohabitating with a woman is reaping the benefits without the commitment. A man who desires a Christian marriage will repent for sinning against God and his girlfriend and take steps to restore her honor. This involves ending the cohabitation and remaining pure until their marriage day. What if the couple loves one another? If they truly love one another they will do what is good for each other. Cohabitation is not only biblically wrong but unwise. Cohabitation drastically increases the chances of future divorce. If a man needs his girlfriend’s income he’s not yet prepared for marriage. A man is to first prepare himself financially before entertaining thoughts of marriage. For those who may consider this Puritanical and even legalistic should be reminded that our authority is Scripture, not 21st century, secular, Western culture. One should consider the ravages of the sexual revolution in Western culture to see the damage of sexual promiscuity before marriage.

6) Finally, it is not our desire to make getting married difficult. We are fans of marriage! Marriage is not an American or Baptist invention. It is God’s idea. He desires that couples experience the fullness of marriage. Obedience to God’s Word brings blessing but refusal to obey brings heartbreak and emptiness. It is our sincere desire that couples experience the fullness of God’s plan for marriage. For these reasons we seek to help couples both understand and obey the Word of God as it relates to marriage. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. May God bless you as you consider His loving commands!

 

[1] John MacArthur, “Believer’s Baptism,” http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-370

[2] The Baptist Faith and Message (2000), http://www.sbcec.org/history/pdf/The%20Baptist%20Faith%20and%20Message.pdf

 

 

 

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