Questions From Readers
● Is it proper for Christians to celebrate their wedding anniversary?—D. Y., Venezuela.
It is not unscriptural for a married couple to commemorate in a reasonable and modest way the anniversary of their wedding. But neither is this a necessary thing.
Basically an anniversary is an annual return of the day of a past event. There are anniversaries of all sorts. Pagan peoples have noted anniversaries of special events. Yet God’s servants have too. (Ex. 12:14, 24-27; John 10:22, 23; 1 Cor. 11:23-26) Of course, these anniversaries or commemorations noted in the Bible directly involved aspects of true worship. Still, we can see from this that not all anniversaries can be ruled out as objectionable. It all depends on what is commemorated and how.
A Christian would obviously avoid celebrations that involve unscriptural or false religious practices. (John 4:24) Normally today, though, a wedding anniversary is not a religious celebration. But does the custom of commemorating one’s wedding stem from ancient pagan religion? Apparently not. The Encyclopedia Americana (1971 ed.) says: “The family practice of observing wedding anniversaries seems to have grown up in western Europe. The earliest references in English literature occur in the 17th century.”—Vol. 28, p. 564.
It is now customary in some lands for husband and wife to take special note of the anniversary of their wedding. Some Christian couples do this too. They conscientiously feel that they can strengthen the bonds of their marriage by quietly and privately reflecting on the joyful occasion when they became husband and wife. On their anniversary they may review the progress they have made in building a happy marriage and refreshen their resolve to continue in that direction.
Other couples may find pleasure in sharing the happiness of their anniversary with a few Christian friends and relatives, including their children. If this is done, there are certain balancing cautions that ought to be kept in mind.
With any social gathering or celebration, care has to be exercised that things do not get out of hand. Even a modest celebration can become uncontrolled or can lead to improper conduct, as appears to have occurred sometimes among the Jews in the first century. (John 2:10) That unquestionably would be wrong for Christians. (1 Pet. 4:3, 4) Nor would it be fitting for celebrants to give humans excessive honor, as if the couple whose anniversary it is ought to be venerated. The Bible clearly shows that veneration should go to the Creator, not to any created thing on earth, whether animal or human. (Rom. 1:24, 25) If a couple have had a successful marriage, that is fine. Others can rightly be happy for them. But should not this also stimulate thankful praise to the Author of marriage? He should be kept in mind and all that is done should bring honor to Him.
In making the above comments we are not recommending to couples who do not have this custom that they now begin to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Actually, we are neither encouraging nor discouraging wedding anniversaries. Each couple can, without being criticized by others, decide personally what to do. The circumstances or consciences of one couple may lead them to take no special note of the event. Still another couple may commemorate their wedding anniversary. If so, then the decision of how they will do this should be made in the light of the counsel: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.”—1 Cor. 10:31.