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The Rev. Chris Thomas The Rev. Chris Thomas

The Rev. Chris Thomas serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Williams, Jacksonville, Alabama

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Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

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First Baptist Church of Williams, Jacksonville, Alabama

The Gentrification of Christian Practice

November 16, 2012

So, earlier this week I came across this unfortunate video.

To say I am disgusted by this is an understatement. However, we live in a culture of outrageously expensive weddings (weddings many of us claim are "sacred"), enormous Bar/Bat-Mitzvahs, and ridiculously lavish "sweet sixteens," so should we really be surprised that there are people who have "stylish adult baptisms"?

As a Baptist, I practice believer's baptism (as opposed to infant baptism). I view baptism as an extremely important and meaningful step in following Jesus. It is not a social event. It is not simply some societal right-of-passage. Baptism is first and foremost about following Christ, so it is impossible for me to justify having such a lavish and expensive "event" for what is supposed to ignite a life of following the one who preached "blessed are the poor."

While my complete disgust with this is beyond words, it has caused me to reflect on another practice we hold as sacred--the wedding. The whole time I watched this video I was thinking, "It looks like an expensive wedding." And that's when it hit me--should I also be equally disgusted by the lavishness of weddings these days? Think about it, baptism is an extremely wonderful and important time in the life of a believer, and a wedding is an extremely and wonderful and important time in the life of two believers. If thinking about baptism in the way this video does is offensive, why isn't it offensive to think about weddings this way?

I've done a number of weddings in my time as a pastor: only one of them has been inside a church, and none of them were really all that "religious" (in fact, I have often been asked to keep my comments and the service brief). It has been my observation that weddings these days are mostly about the reception (i.e. the party after the service).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning the notion of this video, nor am I necessarily advocating for some sort of ceremonial reform to weddings. What I am saying, though, is that I think we need to seriously consider how the big signposts of our lives reflect our faith. Do the ways we celebrate the significant moments of our lives honestly show how closely we follow Christ?



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