Viva Las Vegas

“Viva Las Vegas”
March 2024 Blog

As conservative Christians, sometimes we can be a bit… shall we say…
narrow-minded? Critical? Rigid? Judgmental? (And isn’t this true for most people?)

I confess I’ve held a view along these lines towards Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. Also known as “sin city.” I’ve known of how this is as a place where, purportedly, “anything goes.” Gambling, of course, is king. Along with lavish shows and buildings which try to outdo one another in extravagance, and all the factors indulging all the senses, including acres of casino food and drinks. Heavy drinking and prostitution are commonplace. Etc. Etc. And, yet, there are thriving Christian ministries there too.

I’ve also been less than an Elvis fan, I confess. I came along after his most popular years and mostly saw just an old has-been, overweight man in tight sequin suits.
I apologize to all the loyal Elvis fans for this poor perception. I know he started out as a handsome young man of faith singing gospel songs.

I love it when the Lord shows me I’m wrong. I love His gentle ways and sometimes surprising correction. Such has recently been the case with Las Vegas, and Elvis.

Many of you know our son, Jake, has been dating, for a couple of years, a lovely young woman, (inside and out), named Judy, from Austria. In February, they became engaged. Their plan was to marry in May in Austria, where they will also live.

While Judy was visiting here in Florida, before having to return in March for a new job, they were working on documents for their civil ceremony oversees. They hit an obstacle they couldn’t overcome. So, they began looking for alternatives in the ‘States, (with the May wedding still on, now as a religious, rather than civil, ceremony).

They couldn’t marry in Florida. Other states presented challenges as well.
But, Nevada? Well, let’s just say that it appears they don’t really care about all the logistics, and welcome couples to marry in their state with little documentation. I
n fact, they’re so popular as a wedding destination there’s actually a kiosk at the airport to pick up marriage licenses!

So, yes. Jake and Judy went to Las Vegas and got married. At an Elvis chapel.
I will tell you right now it was truly one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever attended!
It’s caused me to re-think how I do weddings! We were able to watch online, with other family members around the country, (And Judy’s family and friends in Austria.)
“Elvis” escorted Judy in. (She looked beautiful in her rose gold dress.) Jake was waiting at the front. (He looked handsome in his suit and boutonniere.) And then Elvis addressed them, and led them through “vows.” These included phrases from popular Elvis songs as he asked Jake to promise he would never treat Judy as a “hound dog.” And to Judy that she would love Jake “tender.” (From popular Elvis music: “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog;” and “Love me Tender.”) There were Biblical threads throughout the whole ceremony as they were encouraged to love and cherish one another. The wedding took only 7 minutes! And, it ended with him singing, and them dancing, to “Viva Las Vegas.” (The song stayed in all of our heads for days.)
It was so much fun! And our son, who we’ve never seen dance his whole life, was dancing! With a huge, happy smile on his face! And Judy was dancing too, also with a huge happy smile on her face. Our faces were smiling too.

Lesson learned? Don’t judge. Enjoy life. Have fun.
We know that Jesus said He came to give us life, and give it abundantly! John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Or, have it abundantly.

Paul teaches us in Galatians 5:22 that the fruit of God’s Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Love and joy are the top two. These are God’s qualities. God’s gifts. And yet there they were, in abundance, in Las Vegas! There was certainly a lot of love and joy at our son’s wedding in Las Vegas.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, (2 Samuel 6:14) we read that “David danced before the Lord with all his might.” He danced. This man who would go down in the history books as “a man after God’s own heart,” danced! He expressed his joy in this way.

As conservative Christians, we certainly need to stand up for what the Bible says is right and true. And we do. But we must always do it in such a way that we are “a sweet fragrance” to others, and not a bad smell.

The well-known and loved pastor and author Chuck Swindol said that too many Christians look like they were weaned on a dill pickle. Let’s not be like that!
Instead, let’s not treat each other like hound dogs; let’s love one another tender;
and let’s dance! Viva Las Vegas!
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