At a time when our national culture is rapidly declining and serial-marriage seems to be becoming a tragic new norm or marriage is avoided altogether, this may be one of the most urgent and important messages I’ve written. The vital question is simple. Are the traditional wedding vows the immutable anchor expressing the Biblical worldview or have they devolved into the equivalent of a valentine?
No civilization has ever survived the breakdown of the family. Cohesive families are the bedrock foundation of all sustainable cultures. Sustainable families cannot exist unless anchored by a strong marriage that begins with a powerful, binding, and highly respected wedding. “Let marriage be held in honor among all…” [Hebrews 13:4 ESV]
A Godly wedding is an extraordinarily beautiful picture of the ultimate wedding between the perfect bridegroom, Jesus, with His bride, the body of believers. [Revelation 19:7-10; Ephesians 5:22,23; 2 Corinthians 11:2 KJV] The genius of God’s heavenly reunion is pictured by the earthly union. A marriage between a man and a woman honors God, when they enthusiastically live according to the sacred vows and tenaciously adhere to the exclusive and binding relationship to which they voluntarily committed. The preliminary process is familiar.
Following an initial meeting, a man and a woman form a physical/intellectual bond (mutual respect and appreciation, building to admiration), an emotional bond (What a hunk or chick! That hug feels rrrreally good!), and ultimately a spiritual bond (sense of peace knowing that the other is a mature and actively growing believer). At a later time, when they have grown sufficiently together, he proposes and she agrees to marry.
CAUTION: After months of preparation, many couples are so anxious and exhausted on their all-important wedding day that the vows seem to go by in a blur of sensory experiences. The vitality of the moment is often lost. Later, the married couple may attend other weddings as a guest, but may pay to little heed to the vows. After all, they’ve “been there; done that” and they are looking forward to the reception. Occasional mentions of wedding vow fragments on television shows or in the movies cannot possibly fill the gap of insufficient understanding.
In contrast, consider the genius, incomparable elegance, conspicuous power, and profound security of the traditional wedding ceremony illustrated in the graphic.
It begins with a solemn promise that is total, sacred, and voluntary. As a commitment “before God,” confirmed by “these witnesses,” the promise declares that the entire ceremony is an act of worship.
The vows themselves are comprehensive. Each requires valuing the other before self:
- Love—unconditional, holding spouse in higher esteem than self
- Comfort—console and reassure at all times
- Cherish—guard with care and affection; hold dear
- Honor—show high regard, appreciation and respect
- Keep—remain absolutely faithful, no exceptions
The scope is unlimited; it has no boundaries and the relationship is absolutely exclusive. They mutually pledge that nothing will ever inhibit or damage their marriage, regardless of life conditions (better/worse; richer/poorer; sickness/health).
The marriage is rock solid regardless of standard-of-living (aggregate value of accumulated stuff) or quality-of-life (personal health and richness of network of interpersonal relationships, beginning with the family and working outward. No outsider will ever be permitted to breach its bulwark.
The commitment is ultimate and ironclad, “…as long as you both shall live!”
The wholeness of bond is characterized by firmly binding together, “…my life, my heart, and all my worldly goods.” They have unalterably bound themselves together, physically/intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Finally, the seal becomes irrevocable, when they call for their marriage to be sealed by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The earthly representation of that seal is the married couple’s first encounter with God’s incredible gift of physical intimacy, often referred to as consummating the marriage. Physical intimacy is the capstone of God’s process of bringing two people together in the unique, exclusive relationship called marriage.
Tragically, in modern America, far too many couples succumb to temptation, experiencing physical intimacy before marriage. When they do so, the experience is so powerful and binding that it effectively “scrambles the brain,” interfering with the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bonding process, which is a vitally important prelude to the marriage decision. It becomes exceedingly difficult to determine whether or not a sex partner is the best candidate for a lifelong, exclusive marriage.
Now—What do YOU think? Are the wedding vows an immutable anchor or merely a valentine?
God’s way is always the best way. Your happiness depends on it; your future depends on it; your spouse depends on it. Your family depends on it. America depends on it.
There is nothing in any other social relations in any way parallel to the mutual attraction of the sexes. By missing this simple point, the modern world has fallen into a hundred follies…There is no dispute about the purpose of Nature in creating such an attraction. It would be more intelligent to call it the purpose of God; for Nature can have no purpose unless God is behind it.
G. K. Chesterton
The happy State of Matrimony is, undoubtedly, the surest and most lasting Foundation of Comfort and Love; the Source of all that endearing Tenderness and Affection which arises from Relation and Affinity; the grand Point of Property; the Cause of all good Order in the World, and what alone preserves it from the utmost Confusion; and, to sum up all, the Appointment of infinite Wisdom for these great and good Purposes [sic].
What does it take to wake-up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake-up the clergy?