Wednesday, 04 February 2015 06:03

Wedding Vows and Lasting Marriages

Written by  Scotty Harris is Senior Minister of Grace Pointe Church
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It’s been noted that “a lot of people have great weddings, but not everyone has a great marriage.”

As a minister, I am often asked about perceived shifts in American cultural definitions of marriage and what is my opinion of these shifts? Without any intention of evading the question, I typically respond with, “I’m no authority on culture, but I am a student of Scripture. So, I try to study and respect God’s own definition of marriage as the last and best word on this (or any) subject.” The holy Scriptures are the origin of the timeless traditional wedding vows which have been exchanged by couples for centuries. Many biblical texts define the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:22-25; Matthew 19:1-9; 1 Corinthians 7:1-7).

 

“I, John, take you, Jane, to be my lawfully wedded wife” – marriage is a legal contract as well as a spiritual covenant and should involve a keen regard for the ordinances of God and of the State. Many ceremonies conclude with the words, “As a minister of the Gospel in accordance with the laws of the State of [Alabama], I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

 

“To have and to hold”– this speaks to the one-flesh intimacy of marriage, the sexual embrace of physical union. This also involves ‘forsaking all other’ sexual relationships and to keep true to each other in an exclusive, monogamous covenant of love and fidelity.

 

“From this day forward”– Once the vows are exchanged and the couple is pronounced husband and wife, they are to live in honorable fidelity and devotion to each other for a lifetime. “This day” our life together as “Mr. and Mrs.” has begun. All that has come before this day is closed and past. Together, we will walk hand-in-hand the road ahead.

 

“For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse”– whether money is abundant or scarce, whether material goods increase or not, we will remain committed to each other in honor of the vows exchanged on our wedding day.

 

 “In sickness and in health”– One young couple was married for less than a year when the husband, in his late twenties, suffered a tragic accident that left him quadriplegic. This might have been disastrous for their young marriage; it might even have ended the marriage. But the young wife remembered her “in sickness and in health” vows on their wedding day, and she remained devoted to her husband for years before his eventual death. “I will never leave you. If you grow old and wrinkled, I will love you.  If you get sick, I will take care of you. I will feed you, bathe you, and clothe you. I will do anything for you except leave you. I will never leave you.” This captures, in vivid description, the spirit of the permanency of the wedding vows.

 

“To love and to cherish”– marriage is not something merely to be endured, but to be enjoyed. When couples marry, they vow to each other in the presence of God, and in the company of human witnesses, that they are committing to growing ever deeper in loving respect and care for one another with each passing year.

 

“Until death shall separate us”– Despite the high number of divorces in our country each year, someone has correctly observed that, according to the Bible, God’s ideal purpose for married couples is “one man, for one woman, for one lifetime.” While our great God is most certainly gracious in his forgiveness of divorced people, his great loving heart would spare any person the pain of divorce.

 

“So help me, God.”– This perhaps, is the most crucially important part of the wedding vow. It recognizes that we desperately need God’s help, strength, grace, wisdom, humility, and forgiveness if we are to honor our wedding vows for a lifetime.

 

 

“In the beginning, God made them male and female … For this reason, a man will leave his father mother and be joined to his wife … Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

(Matthew chapter 19, verses 5 and 6)

 

 

Scotty Harris is Senior Minister of Grace Pointe Church, 1565 Ray Thorington Road, in Montgomery. 

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 13 February 2015 06:06
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