Points to Ponder: So You Want to Get Married?
Points to Ponder
So You Want to Get Married?
Around this time of year, pretty church facilities are packing their schedules with pretty weddings. When I get a call requesting my services, I say, "I don't do weddings...I do Christian marriages." So much effort and expense is poured into a 30-minute ceremony; yet comparatively little is invested in the long-term viability of the marriage.
The wedding ceremony depicts the union of Jesus Christ (the Groom) and His church (the Bride). In Ephesians 5:22-33, wives are reminded to submit to the leadership of their husbands just as the church submits to Christ (Her husband). Likewise, husbands are to love their wives, giving themselves for her sacrificially, just as Christ loves the church and gave Himself on the cross for her. A Christian marriage is a relationship of mutual submission for the good and fulfillment of the other.
One particular couple, I'll call them Dan and Jan, exemplify the proper approach to the covenant of Christian marriage. They were in their twenties and though they had dated five years, they were celibate and residing at separate addresses until their wedding day.
From the beginning, their focus was not on planning a wedding; they wanted a Christian marriage.
Author/radio host Armstrong Williams overheard a conversation between two women in a grocery store. While flipping through bridal magazines, one woman commented to the other that she had already picked out her wedding dress, the church, etc. ... all the details. All that was missing was...the groom. The woman admitted she'd been married four times., but this time, she was going to do it right. So many couples will pour countless hours and thousands of dollars into a half-hour ceremony, but hardly any time into preparing for a lifetime of marriage.
Marriage is a covenant. That term comes from an old word for "shackle." It pictures the couple joining together into a "bond" which is stronger than the individuals it is holding. Those truly committed to the covenant of Christian marriage are committing to something bigger than they are.
Dan and Jan knew this. In premarital counseling sessions I ask couples, "What is love?" Many will describe some kind of feeling. But Dan replied, "[It's] when two people complete each other." Jan said, "It's not just a feeling - it's sticking together in good and bad times, and even when you don't like each other." They were describing commitment. One counselor defines love as an 'unconditional commitment to an imperfect person'.
Dan and Jan faced many challenges right in the beginning of their dating relationship. Her health issues confined her to home quite often. Sometimes all they could do was sit and watch a movie and talk. And they talked a lot. Dan stuck by her in praying for her and being with her. When he came to me about marriage, it was all about sealing their commitment.
When we reviewed the vows, they chuckled and said, "As far as 'For better/for worse', we've had a lot of practice at worse." And the latter, "For richer/for poorer" was also quite familiar to them.
They had chosen Philippians 4:6-7 for the wedding service. The Apostle Paul wrote Philippians while in prison. Jan's health issues had confined her in a type of prison. And Dan (in his love for her) joined her there. This had drawn them closer to God and each other. The example of Christian marriage which they will set over the years to come will require deep devotion to God.
"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The special challenges which they embraced in their marriage have given them a power they will need - and which other people are longing to see.
The heart of that lesson from the Philippians letter is this:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the grace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
The key word that summarizes this theme is "in": in everything - in Christ. When by faith we come to God in everything, we put all our concerns in second place, after Him. Then our perspective on life is clear.
"True love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8a); because God never fails.
Their wedding was truly beautiful because it was all about their marriage and their commitment to God and to each other. There would be far fewer divorces if all marriages began that way and all weddings were about the marriage covenant: a covenant of three: man, woman, and God.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:50pm, both days); and every Sunday from 7:30-7:45am on "Consider This". www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com