This previous week, while I was home in Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday, my wife and I attended the wedding of an old friend from high school. This friend, who grew up a member of the Wesleyan Church, was married at Perkins Chapel (located on Southern Methodist University’s campus at the Perkins School of Theology). The ceremony was beautiful, and it was fun to see old friends and catch up with each of them. Much to my wife’s chagrin, though, I couldn’t set aside the aspiring religious scholar in me, and was fascinated with the chapel’s architecture and layout, the wedding liturgy, and everything else.
The following are a few of my observations.
1.) Latter-day Saints owe much of our musical tradition to the Methodists. Prior to the beginning of the wedding, I paged through the United Methodist Church Hymnal, searching for hymns also used in the current LDS hymnal. My brief search yielded 7 common hymns, most by either Isaac Watts or Charles Wesley.
2.) I have holy envy for much of Protestant architecture, as well as the ornamentation of their chapels. Both the outside architecture and the inside decoration of the Perkins Chapel inspire me more than the typical modern Mormon church building. (I actually envy the entire SMU Campus over that of my current school).
3.) The most notable aspect of the ceremony (to me) was the conspicuous absence of the phrase “till death do you part” (or “as long as you both shall live”) in the recitation of the marital vows. I am not entirely sure whether the reason for this was a personal choice made by my friend and her new husband, or whether it is typical in Protestant wedding ceremonies. Having lived in Provo, UT for the better part of the past 6 years, I don’t exactly get invited to many Protestant weddings. What I am sure of is that although there was no promise of my friend’s marriage lasting throughout eternity, there was not any prescribed limitation of time placed on their union, and thus it did not rule out the possibility of the union continuing into the next life.
I have regularly heard remarks in LDS circles that it is unfortunate and sad that other Christians view marriage as a union for mortality only. Assuming that the omission of limitations of time in this wedding ceremony was intentional, I think it presents interesting questions to Mormons and their discourse regarding other Christians’ weddings.