I am engaged and both sets of parents are excited about it. However, lately we've run into a lot of difficulties with my fiancé's parents. They say that they are very excited about our upcoming union, but they have been rather difficult in regards to our wedding plans. His father is a minister and is performing the ceremony.... I was very happy that he was performing the ceremony initially, but the longer this has gone on the more I want to find someone else to do the ceremony.
The problem stems from my fiancé and my decision to serve alcohol at the reception. I understand the potential problems for my future father-in-law because of his position in the community, etc. However, he is not hosting the wedding or contributing in any way other than performing the ceremony. My feelings are deeply hurt and my parents, especially my father, are angry. My parents are willing to do whatever my fiancé and I want so that I have the wedding of my dreams. On the other hand, his parents act like, and have said, that we just made the decision without any consideration for them, which is totally untrue....
They drink in the privacy of their own home, but will not in public. They hide this drinking. They know that my fiancé and I drink occasionally and have never expressed a problem with it until now. I find their attitude very mettlesome and hypocritical.
I really want to talk about all this but my fiancé says that that would just make things worse. His father offered an option that he said at the time would be acceptable and we've decided to go with it, but after all this has happened, I would like to make sure that it is still OK with them.
What should I do?
I'm so glad you wrote. There's more here than I can answer in one post, but maybe I can at the very least help put some things into perspective for you.
Alcohol is an emotionally and theologically charged issue, which doesn't make anything easier, but, as I'm sure you know, there is a lot more going on here than whether to serve alcohol at your wedding reception.
Yes, lots of things should have been done differently in your situation. If your father-in-law's church has a policy about its ministry staff not officiating weddings where alcohol is served (a very common policy among evangelical churches), then as soon as he knew there would be a conflict he should have said, "Son, Sweetheart, I am so honored to be asked to officiate your wedding, but our church policy prevents me from doing it where alcohol is served. If you really want to serve alcohol, I must respectfully decline." And then you could have made your decision.
But that's not how it happened. He communicated poorly, misunderstandings and miscommunications continued to mount, and now you are in very real danger of lots of hurt feelings all around for years. Here's what I suggest to stop that from happening.
First, realize that your enemy is not your future father-in-law or any other person. Your enemy is Satan. You defeat him by praying. So start praying your guts out. You'll figure out what to pray as you keep reading my answer.
Second, don't pit your family against your fiancé's and each of you take sides. That sets a disastrous precedent for the future. The two of you will soon formally leave your families and cleave to each other, forming your own team; now is a good time to start practicing that, including praying together regularly and beginning to learn to draw healthy boundaries between yourselves and extended family: respect for extended family, but loyalty to one another (you and your spouse) under God's submission.
Third, you and your fiancé need to answer this basic but crucial question: What is the point of your wedding and those events surrounding it, such as the reception? I know, I know, but stick with me for a moment. If you answered that it's about the celebration and public affirmation of your love for and lifelong commitment to one another, you are right, but only partially.
As much as your wedding is about you and your fiancé, your love for one another is not the central point. The point — the end result — is that in this celebration, God, the Author of Love, will be glorified. Scripture says that whether we eat or drink, whatever we do, do it all for His glory:
"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.... So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24;31)
That means that when your wedding is over, you're not thinking about who won the Great Alcohol Debate (or the Great Hors d'oeuvres Debate or the Great Whatever Debate, etc., etc.); rather, you want to be amazed with how great God is.
Plugging that into our discussion changes everything. If for you and your fiancé the primary purpose of your wedding is to bring glory to God, then everyone's wishes (yours, your parents' and your in-laws') about the details must be filtered through that grid. It's not about who wins. The Author of Love can hardly be honored if everyone is angry, bitter and is unforgiving toward everyone else because they didn't get their way.
I remember when my wife and I were faced with a very difficult decision that we both knew would have repercussions for years — it was whether to quit our jobs and move a thousand miles away to be back closer to our families. We banged our heads against the wall trying to figure out which was God's will, to stay or move. We each had our own personal feelings about it, as did our families, and none of us were really in sync, and frustrations and tempers were rising.
It finally dawned on me that the answer as to whether we stayed or moved was not The Point. The Point was this: Did the process for making that decision bring glory to God? Were we bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as we worked through that decision? Was I treating my wife with respect, honoring her, and loving her as Christ loves the church as we sought an answer? Once my wife and I sat down, laid aside our agendas, and dedicated the process to glorifying God, frustrations dissolved and the answer soon came.
So, as you continue to go through the process of planning your wedding, pray that God would help you glorify Him in that process. I know you want everything about your wedding day to be perfect, as any bride would want, but at the top of that list of what makes that day perfect, put "God's presence was there." And trust me, no matter how great you picture the wedding of your dreams, the wedding God dreams for you is infinitely greater than you can imagine.
Copyright 2006 John Thomas. All rights reserved.