Question:My fiance and I are looking for a Church of Christ to join in your area. We were wondering if you could give us some information about requirements for joining your congregation and also any rules, regulations, and information about getting married in your church as we're looking to get married next year. Thank you so much for your help.
Answer:Thank you for writing. I must say that your inquiry is worded differently than what I usually receive. Most people write asking about what entertainment we might provide for their kids and when I respond that we teach the Bible, I don't hear from them again.
I don't know how familiar you are with the churches of Christ, but we are followers of Christ (Christians) who try to stick to the teachings found in the New Testament. To be a member here, you have to first be a Christian as described in the New Testament. That means someone who has:
- Heard the word of God: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
- Believed in God, Jesus Christ, and the promise of eternal life: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). "So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household"" (Acts 16:31).
- Repented (changed direction) from sin and desires to live by God's standards: "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).
- Declared (confessed) that Jesus is his or her Lord: "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).
- Been baptized (immersed) to wash away your sins and to put on Christ: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4). "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
If you want further details, you can look up the passages on the page "Things that Accompany Salvation" or I would be happy to sit down with both you and your fiance to talk about these things and examine the Scriptures together.
The only other thing required is that you want to join the congregation here (Acts 9:26-28).
I have done numerous weddings. Before I will marry someone, I need to know that they have a right to get married. If either of you have been married before, you need to know that Jesus stated:
"But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32).
"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9).
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:10-11).
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18).
Combining these statements, we learn that in general when a man divorces his wife and marries someone else, the new marriage is considered adulterous. The reason is simple, marriage is established by God. "And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate"" (Matthew 19:4-6). Just because a man wants out of his marriage covenant, it doesn't mean God agrees. A man can end his marriage, but God still holds him to the terms of the covenant he made.
The one exception is when the marriage ends because the other spouse was sexually unfaithful. In that case, the spouse who had upheld the covenant, can have the covenant ended by divorce and is allowed to marry again. However, that right is not granted to the spouse who was unfaithful to the covenant. That spouse is still held to the terms of the covenant until the original spouse passes away. "For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man" (Romans 7:2-3).