Vol.VII No.IV Pg.7
June 1970

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

We have had numerous discussions about the use of the church building for weddings, and most of us think this should not be done because weddings are a social function. Now, some say there should be no visiting among members, and no talking about anything but the worship, when we are at the church building. Will you comment on this? MIF


It figures! Visiting in the church building is a social function, so I suppose this had to come.

First, we should (and I think most disciples do) understand that the building is NOT sacred — NOT comparable to the Jewish tabernacle or the temple which Jesus cleansed. Its only authority for existence is that it is (or seems to be) expedient to provide a place for the assembling of saints (Heb. 10:25; Acts 20: 7-8; 1 Cor. 11:18-22) On this basis the church building is a tool, purchased with funds set aside to do the Lords work, and as such is held in trust, to be used for its intended purpose.

The building belongs to the declared purpose and intent (cy pres) of the people who purchased it. although personal identity of the donors has been lost in collective action. The building does not belong to God in any special sense, except as its purchasers put it to use in the service of God. There is, of course, a matter of trust — the moral obligation of subsequent users, to respect the purpose for which the building was constructed. There are incidental uses to which a tool may be put, which would not violate the original purpose nor be an infringement upon its intended use. For example, a company car, intended for business only, may serve a dual purpose if the salesman gives a friend a lift as he goes to work. I see a difference in this and in wear, and expenses, placed upon the company car so that the salesman may take a long rough fishing trip. Obviously. some human judgement is involved.

There are incidental uses, in my judgement, to which the church building may be put — including weddings. funerals, and visiting, — which impose no additional expense upon the church, nor constitute any violation of trust as regards the intended purpose of the facilities. It is easy to see, however, that these same activities could be pressed to the extent that they hindered or even obstructed the originally intended purpose for which the building was obtained. (The company car was not intended as a commuter bus; and if it is marked with the company name or insigne so as to be easily identified, perverse use might cast improper reflections upon the company.)

Right or wrong, a regular place of meeting for the saints, so designated or understood by the public, places an obligation upon us to see that its uses are in keeping with its purpose, or of such an incidental nature as to pose no threat to Bible teaching by word and example.

The church has no authority to build a wedding chapel or social hall.