March 27, 2008

This morning I noticed a small plastic bag sitting on the edge of my lawn. Despite a heavy breeze, the little bag did not blow away, but stood firmly planted as its edges fluttered in the wind. Curious about it, I walked out to take a look and discovered that it contained a small, beautiful stone. There was also a message in the bag from a local lawn care business advertising their services.

I had always considered God to be my rock. So it’s no surprise that as I held this small rock in my hand and felt it with my fingers, it reminded me more of God’s characteristics than a lawn care company’s services.

Symbols are powerful that way. Their meaning is often determined by our own personal associations with them as well as society’s associations with them. When something big or important occurs in our lives – like a marriage – symbols become especially important.

The Uniqueness of a Christian Wedding and Marriage

Weddings have many traditional symbols associated with them - the old expression, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" immediately comes to mind. From the white wedding gown and veil, to the wedding attendants, flowers and music, symbols reveal the meaning of this very significant event.  

Yet, as a Christian, I wonder what God’s perspective might be about today’s wedding extravaganzas. According to CNN, the average cost of a wedding soared to $26,327 in 2005 – so much money for something that is supposed to be sacred. And nearly half of all couples will end up spending more than they originally budgeted.

Getting married shouldn’t require that you break the bank to be special. I believe that you can have a beautiful wedding for much less. When we focus on what is important, what we hope our guests will remember ten years from now, we might find that we can celebrate joyously for a reasonable price. Just as that little stone this morning reminded me of God’s providence and His strength in my life, incorporating symbols that reflect your faith and love in your wedding ceremony can be a simple way to make a significant statement without spending a fortune.

Why Wed?

Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Nothing suggests a bond more than the words “they will become one flesh.” The bonding of two people in marriage is covenantal. God used the depth of His own commitment to Israel as an illustration of a covenant promise when he said, “as Christ loved the church and gave up himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). The covenant of marriage is a biblical framework designed to enable the husband and wife to respond to each other and to God with a deepening love in a trusting relationship.

The wedding ceremony is a symbol of our willingness to take part in this covenant. The difference between a vow and a promise is significant. A vow is set apart by our commitment to the covenant or principle, not just our commitment to each other.  It’s easy to make promises, but when circumstances change, too often our promises are not kept. But a vow is different – it’s sacred. It says that only death can end it. In marriage, our commitment is to something higher than ourselves. It is a commitment to God.

Our wedding ceremony should reflect this significant statement. When we say we will stay together “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,” we do this because we have something greater than our love for each other that will keep us together. Cecil Murphey, co-author of more than 100 books, says “Our commitment to God’s principle of a relationship severed only by death transcends earthly things. It’s powerful because it surpasses feelings and situations. It’s a relationship that says, ‘Even though, and no matter what  . . . we’re still together.’”