Do you believe that weddings and/or funerals may take place in the church auditorium? Do you think that you can maintain fellowship with those who differ with you on this question? Do you think that you can maintain fellowship with those who differ with you about having a kitchen or fellowship hall in the building?  If answers differ, can you explain why you gave different answers to those questions?

 (I know that NI [non-institutional] brethren do disagree among themselves about using the building for weddings or funerals.  So the question really is why is that not a fellowship issue when using another part of the building for eating is seen as a matter of division?  If that is not inconsistent in your thinking, can you help me see how you justify two conclusions which seem on the surface to be at odds with one another?)

Once again, the questioner is seeking a point of inconsistency to justify an action. The question is not whether using the building for a wedding, funeral, or a potluck dinner is right or wrong, but they are lumped together as a whole. I am asked if I can accept one, why can I not accept them all? The reality is that it matters not whether I can tolerate those who use the building for weddings or not. Our sole purpose is to live in accordance with the commandments of God.

The argument over using the building for weddings or funerals generally revolves around whether these events merely social or are they events commanded by God and therefore can be supported by the local church. Those who oppose the use of the building do so because they see the events as non-religious. They do not wish those of the world to think that the event was something extra special or particularly blessed simply because it occurred in a building owned by the church. Others see them as opportunities to preach the gospel. In the case of weddings, it is also argued that all weddings involve God whether man wishes to acknowledge it or not. Please note that those who do allow the building to be used for weddings or funerals only have the service (the part where preaching occurs). They do not include the social aspects, such as meals.

In other words, the debate is much like the question of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Both sides have scriptural points of view and as such can exist together. For example, if brethren sincerely object to using the building for weddings or funerals, those who see no problem simply don't use the building for that purpose.

It has been my experience that those advocating the use of the building for social purposes lack both scriptural evidence and a willingness to co-exist with those who disagree with them. The apostle Paul is plain that eating was to be done at home (I Corinthians 11:22, 34). Yet, those who advocate using the building for social gatherings claim they can overcome this restriction by declaring that the gatherings are promoting fellowship. It is unfortunate that they get the cart before the horse. People don't eat meals together to create fellowship; people in fellowship will often share meals together. This is illustrated in Acts 2:46, "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart." Notice again the mention that the meals were partaken of in the homes of the brethren.

Generally, though not always, those using the building for social purposes support the gatherings from the church treasury. They purchase kitchen equipment, plates, and utensils for use during the meals. Even if one objected to social gatherings in the building, they cannot avoid it by just not coming. Their contributions to the Lord's work are being used for the very things to which they object. In contrast, if a wedding or funeral is held in the building there are only incidental costs (a bit extra lights and heating or air conditioning). A person who objects can chose not to attend and not find their contributions being used in ways they do not agree, nor are they faced with reminders that the church participates in things to which they object.

Finally, the methods used in attempts to justify eating in the building are objectionable. The arguments using are along the line of "the Bible doesn't say you can't." In other words, they are saying that they can speak were the Bible is silent. Yet they simultaneously claim the opposite. Because those who use the building for social purposes don't approach the Scriptures in the same manner, there is a severe inability to share -- there is no similarity in mind or judgment. "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10).

See also:

Can money be used from the church treasury to do good for non-Christians?
Is there any spiritual work that an individual Christian may do that the church may not?


June 21, 2007