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Monday, December 5, 2016

Wearing White

From my elementary years, my parents worked as wedding photographers on the side of their day jobs. They were pretty good. Maybe it could have been their full time gig, but my dad has a big heart and a small understanding of business. As a result, their name was associated with kindness and price breaks in the wedding world. Word of mouth was their best marketing, and there were many springs and summers where I never saw them on the weekends except in the nighttime hours between rehearsal dinners and weddings.
As a consequence of this interesting life, my brothers and I were exposed early to the myriad controversies surrounding wedding traditions. Some traditions didn't make any sense.

  • Why did the bride have to have something old, new, borrowed, and blue?
  • What's the point of a ring bearer when he doesn't usually bear the ring?
  • Why does the groom not walk down the aisle? 
  • Why does no one give the groom away?

But some traditions, I never questioned.
Notably, the white dress. Why does almost every bride wear white?
That was obvious. 
Because she's supposed to be a picture of purity.  

Growing up in a highly legalistic church tradition which idolized virginity, I remember my attitude about white wedding dresses. In a culture of legalism, I learned to look disdainfully at brides who wore white dresses even though they'd been married before, co-habitated, or had a reputation for promiscuity. It seemed like lying. It felt like they were stealing a symbol meant for pure people (namely, me) and using it to pretend to be something they aren't. After all, I was working hard for my purity, and I didn't like other people getting the prize without the pain.

I'm not proud of what I used to believe. In my arrogance, I saw my virginity as a mark of purity that made me more acceptable to God. I thought that if I remained sexually pure, I would have the blessing of God, and He would love me more. 
And at the end of the day, I wanted so much to be loved.
Of course that way of living comes with a high price. You've got to be perfect. Everything is at stake.

I didn't know back then that I had the whole thing upside down. 
I was already impure, virginity notwithstanding.
But I was already loved too. More than I knew. 

In 22 days, I get to marry my best friend. 
One of the things I know now is that I don't deserve to wear a white wedding dress as a symbol of my purity, because I am not pure on my own. An accurate depiction of me before Jesus would be to walk down the aisle in filthy rags, because that's what my righteousness was before I was in Christ. 
The truth is though, that that isn't who I am anymore in Christ, and only through Christ, not because I've earned the right to some special status. 
For me, the white dress doesn't represent my purity anymore, it represents the purity of Jesus which was given to me at the cost of his blood. 
A purity that can't be marred no matter what happens. 
A purity that I don't have to protect, but one that motivates me to love Him from a grateful heart. 

1 Corinthians 6:11
"...and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 

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