Sinners Get To Wear White

BY DANIEL EMERY PRICE

Years ago a young woman approached her pastor with a request. It wasn’t a strange request. She simply asked if he would perform her wedding ceremony.

She and her live-in boyfriend had not been attending his church very long. They had only been Christians for a few short months and getting married seemed like the right thing to do. The pastor gladly agreed with this and likewise agreed to perform the ceremony. But that’s only part of the story…

This young lady also explained to her pastor that she was pregnant. Thankfully this didn’t change the pastor’s willingness to officiate the ceremony, but it certainly made him want to get it done as soon as possible.

Before talking to her pastor, she was hoping their wedding would be in June so out-of-state family members could make plans to attend. Many of these family members hadn’t stepped foot in a church for quite some time, so she wanted a wedding where the Gospel would be preached to them. (Brand new Christians are beautifully zealous like that. They haven’t yet learned to hide their weaknesses and shame.) Given her pastor’s encouragement to get married soon, she was willing to move the wedding up to April, but no sooner.

The pastor conceded to the April ceremony, however he had one request of his own. He cautioned that due to these difficult circumstances and for the sake of the other members of their congregation, he asked if she would refrain from wearing a white wedding dress. And she humbly agreed.

After their conversation, she went shopping and purchased a pale yellow dress. It had a little extra room in it for her baby to grow before the upcoming wedding.

Several weeks passed; a few days before the wedding day she tried the dress on again to make sure it fit. She was a thin girl, but with the child she carried she simply could not fit into this dress. So with very little time and a lot less money, she went out to find a larger, less expensive, non-white dress.

Now, I must say that I’ve never picked out a wedding dress before, but I’ve been told that when you find the right one—you just know it. And she knew it. It was a simple, plain, peasant wedding dress. It was humble and unassuming. It was cheap and fit perfectly… but it was white.

As a new Christian she had not read or memorized that much Scripture yet and her theology was still not all that figured out. But she did have at least one verse memorized and at that moment she remembered these words:

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” (Isaiah 1:18)

She had this thought, “If this is what the Lord says, perhaps He is saying it to me as well. And maybe He wouldn’t mind if I wore a white wedding dress after all.” These thoughts were enough to give her the courage to buy the white dress.

People come crying to pastors on a pretty regular basis. But when a pregnant woman who is getting married in a few days walks into your office in tears, you think something has gone terribly wrong. And so it was in this case.

“What is wrong?” the pastor asked, as she sat with tears running down her cheeks.

“Pastor, I tried on my dress and it doesn’t fit. I went out to buy a different one and I found one that fits perfectly—but it’s white. I’m not trying to be a problem, but I remembered the verse that says, ‘though my sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’ and I thought, that includes me and God wouldn’t mind if I wore a white dress.”

Sometimes the student becomes the teacher, and sometimes, kind old pastors relearn the beautiful fundamentals of the Christian faith from brand new Christians. With tears welling up in his eyes, his said, “I’m so sorry… I can’t believe I asked you to wear something to represent your failure. Can you please forgive me?”

And of course—she did.

The morning of the wedding the bride and mother-to-be put on her simple, white, peasant dress over both herself and her child. It was like a holy garment covering all of her sin and shame. And in her scarlet-letter free, humble boldness, only brought about by a righteousness given to her by Another, she walked into church and down the aisle.

That was thirty-six years ago today.

That girl was my mother and that child was me.

And we are both still wearing white.

As the son of a Pastor, Daniel Emery Price was raised in church and various kinds of Christian ministry in a small town in rural Arkansas. He began writing and performing music in his teen years and was heavily involved in worship ministry before moving to Seattle in his early twenties to pursue a career in music. He later moved to Phoenix and returned to leading worship and took a leadership position in youth/collegiate ministry, before moving back to Arkansas where he helped plant Trinity Church NWAin 2009, and he now serves as Pastor. Daniel lives in Northwest Arkansas with his wife Jessica and their daughter Anna. He is a regular guest on theological radio shows, podcasts, and is a conference speaker. Daniel is a Contributor to Christ Hold Fast and a co-host of the weekly podcasts, 40 Minutes in the Old Testament and 30 Minutes in the New Testament. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Scandalous Stories: A Sort of Commentary on Parables.

Twitter @DanielEmeryPrice