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California Church Holds a Free Wedding and Reception for Cohabiting Couples

"We believe that God's plan for a couple is not to be living together, but marriage."

Photo Credit: FILE

Young evangelicals, as we've reported, aren't necessarily less likely to engage in pre-marital sex. But what about adult Christians? Even among older, more experienced, evangelicals, cohabitation and sex before marriage aren't necessarily an anomaly.

So, to remedy these un-Biblical practices, one Long Beach, California, church decided to offer a free wedding to unmarried couples who had been living together.

Pastor Mike Goldsworthy of Parkcrest Christian Church made the offer to his congregation just two weeks ago, pledging both a wedding and a reception to the couples who agreed to take him up on the offer.

Goldsworthy said, "If your only barrier is the cost of a wedding, we will remove that." And remove it the church did. This past Sunday, four couples -- some of whom had been living with one another for years -- took the plunge and were married in what the Los Angeles Times called an "unconventional" ceremony. The Times has more:

On Sunday, the four grooms lined up at the front of the Parkcrest chapel's pews, grinning broadly as their brides marched down the aisle. Some were handed off by their children to their husbands-to-be.

"Gentlemen, go forward and receive your bride," Goldsworthy said. In a brief address, he said the weddings were "more than a mere formality." They marked an important commitment to God, Goldsworthy said, and a public announcement of the couples' relationships.

Three pastors officiated, taking turns to allow for vows to be exchanged individually. It was the first time the church had financed weddings for its members, but for the pastor and the congregation it was a celebratory milestone.

Goldsworthy explained the importance of living by the Bible's guidelines (both cohabitation and pre-marital sex either lead to or surpass a violation of Christian values). "We believe that God's plan for a couple is not to be living together, but marriage," he explained.

The church has not ruled out doing this again in the future.

(H/T: Los Angeles Times)

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