As marriage continues to decline amid divorce, cohabitation and rampant “casual sex,” a Texas pastor is encouraging cohabiting singles to marry — and the church will pay for everything, from the rings to the wedding cake.
“We continue to see the issue of cohabitation in our church and in our community and we wanted to use God’s Word to give us a pathway,” Bryan Carter, senior pastor of Concord Church in Dallas, told The Christian Post.
“As a pastor, my heart is for marriage and family, and one of the biggest threats to the stability of those things is the issue of cohabitation. Our passion is to lift up and value and honor marriage. We want couples to understand the importance of a covenant relationship, which leads to strong marriages and families.”
Every three years, Concord Church agrees to pay for the weddings of cohabitating couples who wish to get married, covering the cost of mandatory premarital counseling, dresses, tuxedos and rings. For those unsure about marriage, Carter said the church would pay one month’s rent to help couples find suitable living arrangements.
Since the church first implemented the marriage program in 2009, nearly 60 couples have walked down the aisle. The response, Carter said, has been overwhelming.
“One man came to me and said, ‘Nobody in my family is married, so I didn’t really see marriage,’” the pastor recalled. “We gave him the support he needed to honor God in his relationship.”
Another couple married through Concord Church couldn’t afford a wedding after living together for 12 years. “For them, this opportunity meant a lot,” Carter said. “Half of the time, people want to honor God in their relationships but they don’t have the means.”
On Sunday, Carter preached on cohabitation and presented each cohabiting couple with three biblically-based suggestions: to start the process of getting married, to move to separate spaces but continue to date, or to break up.
“After I preached on Sunday, nearly 30 couples came up to me and said they wanted to start the process of walking down the aisle,” he said. “I reinforced the idea that following God isn’t just on Sunday; it’s also demonstrated in how we do marriage and family.”
Each wedding put on by Concord Church costs about $8,000, Carter said, adding that church members often donate decorations, flowers and food items in addition to financial gifts. Others, he said, offer to help mentor newlywed couples through the first years of their marriages.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett