I’ve had the joy of doing pre-marital counseling for over 20 couples. We cover a host of topics like communication, intimacy, submission, love, conflict, finances, etc. On the last session, I’ve developed a category called, “What a Church expects from newlyweds.” For most, this is a topic they’ve never heard discussed before, and one which I think is of fundamental importance at the beginning of a new life together as husband and wife. In this session, I provide ten things that a church should expect from newlyweds. Most of these are incremental steps. Most of these are things to be developed in a lifetime. I will try to offer a basic summary of each category once or twice a month and then attempt to gather all these things together into an article that pastors or parents can give their sons and daughters as they prepare to get married.
I will begin with the first (additional elements include, “public life of faith,” “hospitality,” “Christian charity,” etc.
a) Church Attendance (Ps. 122:1; Heb. 10:25)
The word “attendance” doesn’t exactly capture this first point, but it is used due to its common usage in church life. When a pastor says that church attendance is important, what he is really saying is that you attend church to be formed by its worship. Being in church is not just to be physically present, but to be willing to be transformed by something and Someone outside of yourself.
Newlyweds cannot grasp the significance of marriage unless they are in submission to a ritual that they themselves cannot perform outside of a corporate gathering. As a newly married couple, you are to make the decision of going to church once in your life, not every Saturday night. To be a responsible couple before God and his Church, you need to commit with one another that outside of unexpected circumstances, the act of being in church and your willingness to be transformed by worship through the renewal of the mind is of utmost importance.
There can be no faithful marriage outside of participation in the great marriage renewal that occurs each Lord’s Day between our Lord Jesus and his Bride. Any idea that conveys to newlyweds that marriage is about making independent choices outside any authority structure is destructive. In fact, newlyweds can hope for a fruitful marriage only within the bounds of regular church life, which begins with the worship on the Lord’s Day.