After a long gap, I have decided to blog again. I don’t know how long this desire for blogging will last, but I am giving it a try and hopefully the Lord will sustain it. One of the reasons for my lack of regular blogging is a desire for perfection; I strive to get that perfect blog post out, and then I get dissatisfied with it, and finally give up writing altogether. Well, the Lord brought this sin of perfection to my mind and encouraged me to write again. So, I have decided to resume blogging and write about the things that the Lord is doing in my life.
In the last couple of weeks, I have had the privilege of witnessing two American weddings — two RP American weddings to be precise. My church here in the US has embraced me and my wife to such an extent that we get to participate in these joyous occasions very often.
The weddings here in the US were for the most part similar to those in India — Christian weddings, mind you. There was the familiar bridal procession, the exchange of vows, the homily, and the introduction of the couple as Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so This similarity is partly because we as Indian Christians share the same faith with our American brothers, and also because we have adopted so many western customs over the years. But there was one area where there was a marked difference — the groom kissing the bride.
I have not seen groom kissing the bride in any Indian wedding — be it Christian or non-Christian. At first, I did not know how to react to the kissing because I was so unused to it. I did not want to take any offense at it because I wanted to respect the culture of the land where I am living right now. However, after more reflection, I felt that I should respect this tradition not just because it is a cultural norm, but also because it reflects the Biblical teaching better. How so?
For one, the Bible never shies away from noting the fact that various biblical characters kissed one another. The book of Genesis is filled with descriptions of people kissing one another, one of which is definitely romantic. The Song of Songs, a book which describes marital love (which in turn typifies love between Christ and the Church) mentions the groom kissing the bride. The book of Proverbs says that one who gives an honest answer kisses the lips (Proverbs 24:26). Surely, the writer of Proverbs is using a cultural tradition as a metaphor here. And finally, the New Testament urges Christians to greet one another with a holy kiss. Of course, the context is not romantic in any of these New Testament verses, but they do not seem to militate against the tradition of groom kissing the bride in a wedding ceremony. Rather, they seem to encourage it.
Moreover, I also think that this tradition helps children. Children begin to realize that the couple who are kissing one another in public will have a deeper bond of love in private. The wedding kiss exposes the depth of marital love to children in a very respectable way and makes the subject of sex les of a taboo. Parents may then find it easier to broach the topic of sex with their children and teach them the truth about it, before they learn all wrong things about sex from the media and entertainment industries.
Now I am not saying that all that happens in American church is automatically biblical and therefore churches everywhere should follow suit. Far from it. Neither am I saying that we should enforce the tradition of wedding kiss as a rule in the Indian church, especially when she is not used to it. However, what I am saying is that we should not shy away from this tradition either. We must gently encourage it whenever and wherever we can. Well, at least that’s my understanding and, as a to-be pastor, I certainly would.