"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.XI No.II Pg.3-4a
February 1949

What Do The Neighbors Think About The Instrument In The Church Building For Weddings?

Judson Woodbridge

Recently, I have noticed some writing, and have heard a great deal of comment about moving the instrument of music in the church building for weddings. Those in favor of this practice present some good arguments proving that the church building is not the church. I believe most members will agree that a building of wood and stone is not the church. Most all know that the house of God is composed of Christians, and that the church can meet in a house or out of a house. It can meet in a dance hall with dozens of instruments stacked up, or under a shade tree in a cow pasture. But this does not mean it would be right to roll a piano in the church building. The church using a building where the piano is already there, is not parallel with moving one in. Is meeting in a dance hall for worship, parallel with bringing the dance into the building that was erected for brethren to meet in to worship?

I also observe that this argument is made for the advocates of this practice, "A ceremony is not an item, nor an act of worship." Maybe not, but I wonder. God's word is read or quoted; prayer is offered; and sometimes a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song is sung. Yes, I know "I Love You Truly," and songs of that type are most generally used, and are not in the class of a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song. Once I attended a wedding conducted by a gospel preacher held in a sectarian building. In this ceremony the Lord's Prayer (what people call the Lord's Prayer) was sung with the accompaniment of the pipe organ, and the preacher had all to bow reverently while this was going on. It has been rather hard for me to satisfy my conscience that such is not worship. If we are not worshiping, we certainly make it appear to our neighbors that we are. Say what you please about the ceremony, there are some items and acts we engage in connected with it, that are so close to worship, that our religious friends never see the difference.

But another argument in favor of bringing the instrument of music in the church building: "Bring it in, and show to the world we are not 'old fogies', and are not prejudiced against it. Let's do this and show the difference between worship and a wedding, and the difference between the church and the church house. We want people to know that we do not consider the house sacred or holy."

If the above presented the true picture of actually what we taught by moving the piano in, I would be highly in favor. However, from my experience I have found that another lesson is taught. The majority of our friends do not know that it is "not an item nor an act of worship." The preacher says, nor does anything in the ceremony to suggest that it isn't. Now here is what my friends think they have really learned. - They think they have learned we are trying to make a distinction where there is no distinction. They believe they have caught us in inconsistency. "See", they say, "You will have it in the building for a wedding, but not Sunday morning or Sunday night." They are sincere in what they think they have learned, and think and talk about it. You will never have that audience together again where you can teach them. They will not come and hear you preach on the subject, for they think they have found you inconsistent. I could only wish that this were not the attitude, but I believe it is.

Maybe we should do this, if bringing an instrument in the building would teach the world the difference between the church and the Church house; maybe we should have musical concerts and recitals at least once a month. If we were to engage in this practice we would need to buy a piano and leave it in the building. The young people then would have something to use for entertainment, 0 yes, they could use it in their Sunday school work; for some would be ready to argue that the school is not worship. What would be the next step? I think you know. We remember how the apostasy, which resulted in the Christian church started in some places. First in the basement, then in Sunday school, and then in the auditorium for the general assembly. I, for one am not in favor of starting a practice that will tend toward such a movement.

I hear someone say, "That will never happen. You are an alarmist." Maybe, but I do know of a congregation where an effort was made to get the church to buy a piano and keep it in the building for weddings. It has gone that far in some places.

No, I don't oppose the instrument in the church building because I think the building the church; nor because I think the devil is in the organ. But I believe because of influence there are some things that should be kept out of the buildings; and this is one of them, This practice of bringing it in is not the innocent little lamb of opinion, which will make no difference, as some will have you think. It is a little monster that is apt to grow into a dangerous beast. Beware!

I appeal to young people (and I have found most of them to be reasonable) do not bring the instrument into the building, or even borrow the sectarian's building and organ. People do not understand. I know you love the truth too much to do anything that will retard the spreading of it. Leaving the piano on the outside of the building will never create the wrong impression. Stay on safe grounds, you can have beautiful, impressive weddings without the instrument in the building. Do it that way.