Monday, July 11, 2011

The True Meaning of Christian Marriage

Yesterday I had the blessing of being the wedding photographer for friends of my sister Mary’s.  I hadn’t met the bride, groom, or either of their families before yesterday afternoon.  I got there after their regular church service ended so my sister could introduce me to the family. 
Rachel is one of nine children, ranging in ages from 8-28, so there were lots of people for me to meet.  They had their first dress rehearsal at 2:00pm Sunday for the 3:30pm wedding, which didn’t give them or me a whole lot of time to figure out where and when things were happening, but everything turned out beautifully. 
The pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Kevin Germer, spoke about how Christian marriage is a commitment and covenant to love one another for the rest of our lives whether the warm-fuzzy feelings are there or not.  He emphasized that as soon as they were officially married, they’d have a problem in their marriage.  I thought that sounded a little negative, until he continued.  He said their problem would be with each of them. 
There would be times when things would go wrong and they’d like to blame it on their spouse, but the biggest problems would come from their own sinfulness and self-centeredness.  He reminded them that the only way to overcome selfish thinking and behavior is to be open to the love of the Lord given to us through Jesus Christ.  He’s the one who can bring two imperfect people made in His image together, uniting them as one flesh, and bring them ever closer to Him and to one another through a lifetime of sorrows and joys, failures and triumphs, tears and laughter…     
After a lovely reception and a bit of dancing, all of us gathered around the newly married couple to pray over them before they left for their honeymoon.  Though I was exhausted after doing so much running around, I was amazed at how quickly the hours went by.  All of that preparation for the wedding ceremony, the beautiful dress, the flowers, the decorations, and it lasts for maybe half a day while the vows they made to each other before God, family, friends, and their church members are made for a lifetime. 
Of course this got me thinking about the many different things that Kevin and I have been through both before and since our wedding day.  It’s encouraging to remember all the people who were present in body and/or spirit praying for us.  Family and friends from near and far were there witnessing the two of us committing through the Sacrament of Marriage to spend the rest of our lives loving and caring for one another.  It was a very special day filled with an abundance of blessings that have spilled over into our married life.  Of course we never guessed it, but that ended up being the last time my dad and his brothers were all together in one place in the flesh.    
We never know what the future will hold, but we can be sure that God’s unconditional love will get us through whatever comes our way.         
Lord, please open the hearts of all husbands and wives who have committed to spending the rest of their lives in a marriage covenant, a holy Sacrament blessed by You.  Help us plant the necessary hedges to protect our marriages from the outside influences in our culture that focus on tearing families apart.  Help us to focus on You first, then put our spouse before everyone and everything else in our lives.  Sanctify us as we place our trust in You.  Amen.   
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