In it, a couple of friends, John and Kelly, arrive at my house one evening and I’m not prepared for what they have come to talk about.
For the purpose of this story, John represents a few guys that my wife and I have kept in touch with over a long period as they’ve gone through marriage to lovely Christian women (who turn out to be unfaithful to them), fatherhood, divorce and return to bachelorhood.
In this scenario, John has moved to Australia and, on a brief visit home about two years ago, had introduced to us Kelly, from China, who is a few years younger than him. My experience of working with the Asian community and background in mentoring and relationship coaching are useful in helping John and Kelly over the internet to work though issues that come with developing a committed and caring relationship that is good for both of them.
As the scenario develops, they are back in New Zealand for another visit and arrive at my door and I welcome them in. We sit down with a wine and they surprise me by asking if I would use my powers as a registered Christian marriage celebrant to conduct their wedding in a few months. We talk through why they want to get married and I become sure that they have thought carefully through everything and are at least as committed as any couple I have ever taken through preparation for marriage.
I challenge them on cross-cultural issues and they show a remarkably good grasp of having worked through potential challenges that I have seen undo other cross-cultural relationships. We talk about a range of topics and they reveal in passing that they have not had sex and are saving themselves for marriage (which is not something I come across often these days – especially among Christian couples!). They also mention how they believe God has led them together and prepared them for each other through previous experiences. They speak about the future they see for themselves in mission for God and how they believe that their past experience in mission will be enhanced by both of them working together as a committed, married couple.
And so they talk excitedly about the wedding plans – what they want in their wedding service and who will be taking part – and we start to finalize the plans.
As I mulled over this scenario, the words from the bible came to me from the story of Peter and Cornelius – “Who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” This proposed marriage seemed to give evidence of such a strong expression of the way of God. It seemed to fit all the criteria of Christian marriage – careful courtship, abstinence, a sense of a call of God, a commitment to mission, a demonstrable commitment to each other. Why would I not agree to be the celebrant for this wonderful couple?
At this point, my scenario went into freeze frame mode. Kelly is a male. So, how do I respond to the question, “Who am I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
Mal Green is a member of Incedo, a mission order in New Zealand exploring what it means to follow Jesus with young people 24/7 outside of the structures of Christianity so that we can invite them to join us in our faith adventure. He has been hanging out with young people since 1969 while studying, lecturing, mentoring, pastoring.