In my social media networks, a video is flying around called, “Big Rich Texas Tip: Stylish Adult Baptism.” The scorn being heaped on this clip is well deserved. Less than two minutes long, the clip offends the rational mind from start to finish, with some especially cringe-worthy moments. My personal favorites include commentary that one option for baptism could be a church (gasp!) because “sometimes that’s more traditional,” naming the woman to be baptized “the baptee” (I guess neosacraments call for neologisms), and a warning against being “boobalicious” in one’s clothing choices when attending said stylish baptism. I probably don’t need to explain “boobalicious.” What’s not in the clip? Any mention of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, an ordained minister, or even Christianity itself. The church may not be as stylish as the pool at your Texas ranch; apparently the “style” thing also excludes the very unstylish Faith once delivered to the saints.
Leslie, with her “stylish baptism,” is an easy target. Her simplistic and ephemeral take on what the Church holds as a soul-changing moment is world-class satire without even trying. Unfortunately, Leslie is only taking her cues from the Church.
Weddings are the one of the worst areas where we as the Church have completely caved to the “stylish” culture, inviting all sorts of symbolism and ritual that have nothing of the depth of the ancient faith. Unity candles, sand pouring, flower petals in the aisle – we ministers allow these things all the time. Yet these are not Christian symbols, speaking to vows made before God. If I have to hear one more preacher proclaim that a wedding is about the bride, or the bride and groom, I’m going to hurl down from the bell tower my ESV hardback with Apocrypha. A “church wedding” is where a man and a woman pledge before God to commit to one another until death – a wedding is ultimately about a commitment to God. Yes, let’s make it beautiful; yes, let’s make it enjoyable. But let’s make it about God, from start to finish, a model for the married life to come.
Funerals are a close second. Rambling eulogies and “personal touches” of the deceased move our minds and hearts away from the purpose of a funeral: to commit our loved one to God. Yes, let’s take time to remember them fondly; yes, let’s make it personal. I do most funerals in segments. I lead the funeral service itself, and only after I have completed the liturgy and could actually go home do I turn it over to the family for eulogies and the like. A funeral, like a wedding, is not ultimately about us, about the one whose obituary is handed out. A funeral is about God, about reflecting on the victory over death won by Jesus in the Cross and Resurrection, and a sober opportunity for all involved to consider our own mortality.
So let’s have our fun with Leslie and her stylish baptism, but the Church and our own diminishing of the sacraments are the reasons such a video clip exists. May God, and God alone, be glorified in our weddings, our funerals, and even our stylish baptisms!