Recently, I flew to Hayward, Calif. (in the Bay Area) to perform a wedding ceremony for a younger Christian couple. These delightful individuals met and fell in love while enrolled at Freed-Hardeman University. They also both attended Bethel Springs church of Christ, where I preach on a regular basis. It has been a joy to see their relationship develop and blossom over the past year.
While I was in California to officiate the wedding, I had some downtime to meditate on marriage and reflect upon the significance of wedding ceremonies in general. In this column, it is my desire to share these thoughts with you. I hope my personal musings are helpful in some way.
Weddings are supposed to be joyous and memorable occasions. They are the long-awaited fulfillment and climactic culmination of many prayers, plans, and oft-difficult and painful personal journeys.
Jesus said, in Matthew 19:4-6, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Marriage ceremonies serve as a special celebration of life itself, of the experience of romantic love. They are a ritual or spiritual rite of passage that recognize and honor familial relationships, meaningful friendships, spiritual connection, religious beliefs and values, and mark the beginning of something brand new—something beautiful and sacred.
At marriage ceremonies, the couple’s families-of-origin and extended family members, dearest friends and colleagues, and communities of faith come together in a unique way, for a special (inimitable) and distinctive purpose. But, most of all, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are present and should be honored as both guest and host, audience and participant. You see: marriage would not be possible without God’s matchless love that he has poured out upon humanity.
Marriage is the one human bond and relationship that most closely reflects God’s own interpersonal connection within the intimate and interdependent relationship of the Trinity—the Godhead Three. In turn, it symbolizes the relationship between Christ and his holy Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Wedding ceremonies are an unsurpassed avenue—a sacrament if you will—for individuals to share openly together in God’s grace and goodness. They are also an opportunity for those who are already married to reflect upon their own unions, engage in self and couple-evaluation, and recommit themselves to upholding their binding, covenantal vows as they think back to their own wedding day.
For those who are widowed, they can remember the good times and priceless moments they spent with their spouse during the years God gave them together. For those who are still single, they can dream of a momentous day in the future when they will meet, fall in love, get engaged, and ultimately become joined with their future spouse in holy matrimony.
We are reminded by means of wedding ceremonies of the inestimable value of genuine and lasting commitment, the preciousness of relationships, and the sublime beauty of love itself. We are reminded of God’s wonderful gifts, his divine expectations for marriage partners, about the critical importance of faith and fidelity, generosity and kindness, selflessness and sacrifice, truth and honesty, caring and sharing, hoping and dreaming, helping and healing, comforting and caressing, loving and learning, growing and maturing, spirituality and service.
In a surrounding secular culture that is plagued by marital conflict and infidelity, chronic promise-breaking, self-centeredness, devastating divorce and the destabilizing and dismantling of the home and family, Christian marriages needs to stick out. They must be different from marriages in the world.
Christian marriages ought to demonstrate God’s abiding and unshakeable love. They must shine brightly as a safe lighthouse of spiritual hope, holiness, refuge and peace in a dark, depressing, sinful world.