I have a wedding to go to tomorrow and it brought up questions in my mind that I had had some time ago and so thought I would ask it now since it came up again. I have heard from different sources that our wedding rituals are really pagan in nature. Since I wouldn’t put anyone under law that wanted to do it the traditional way, I say do it however you want, but my question though is what was (is) God’s way of uniting two that want to become one. It seems Adam and Eve just “were” a couple from the beginning and the examples from the OT that I remember seems to say something like (a certain Biblical character) “took a wife”. I wander what that means, and if there were vows or if they just decided that they would be a couple for the rest of their lives. Of course there are “weddings” mentioned but they seemed mostly to just be the celebration of the fact that a man and wife decided to become just that, and have heard that they were just celebrating the consumation which meant then that they were married. It seems in this day and age there has to be something done legally just because of the world that we live in and the complications that there are, but not sure spiritually/scripturally what is (for lack of better words) required or supposed to happen in order for you to consider that you are married. Thanks.
I first want to say that I really appreciate the sincere kindness and care expressed in how you addressed this matter by making sure you ruled out any sense of condemnation regarding the FORM one chose. After all, there are so many ways that form is insisted upon as the reality so that fear is instilled by either the doing OR not doing of it.
This is an excellent series of thoughts and questions that you have brought up here. In the matter of weddings and the officiality of marriage we all are familiar with the concept that if you don’t do it the right way then it didn’t happen, which means you would be living in sin. But did we also realize that there is a growing grass-roots movements that not only rejects the legal form but also insists one needs to undo it in order to be really married? Yeah, it seems in this world we have also created the form of the un-form by which to judge those who judge. haha!
Is there a right way designed by God to be married? I wonder instead if people have been asking the wrong questions in this matter, thereby arriving at conclusions that fit within their own perceptions. What if it turns out that marriage is the shadow of a greater reality of the true union in Christ … the shadow that has been embedded within humanity itself? After all, why has the somewhat basic concept of marriage, in one form or another, survived throughout most cultures throughout most of history? Maybe humans are the ones who have insisted that it has to be done a certain way to make it right … according to GOD. haha!
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but I have performed quite a few weddings myself (one just a few weeks ago). As a matter of fact, I became ordained shortly after graduating Bible College for the express purpose of doing the wedding of a young couple from my group. I remember having been challenged by one of my professors to re-examine the whole concept of marriage, especially in relation to the performance of the wedding and its vows, as he had been quite suspicious of the form we’ve come to accept.
With each wedding I performed I began to question many things about the whole ritual. It wasn’t long before I dropped the whole matter of vows as I came to recognize them as merely a set of rules – a contract – which is alleged to help secure the marriage, but seemed to become a set-up by which one could condemn the other or praise oneself. The vow became the law by which guilt and judgment was easily established in order to either keep it together OR to break it apart.
I remember early on (maybe a year after being ordained) where a guy I had met came to me with a problem. It was complicated situation. He and his live-in girl friend wanted to get married. The problem was that they had been in a serious auto accident which left her in need of major medical attention (a broken back, I think) so that they needed her current insurance coverage to pay the hefty bills. She would lose that coverage if they got married. They asked me what they should do. I asked the head pastor about and he gave me the expected response that they shouldn’t worry about those worldly things and that they should get married and trust God with it. I was really tossed back and forth on the whole matter as it made me sick at heart, but I ended up passing the same onto my new friends. They were totally crushed and soon left us after that encounter.
Oh sure, it sounded so much as if such insistence promotes doing God’s will, but does it really? Or does it promote having to bend God’s will around the will of man … and his forms? I know there are stories out there that tell of the incredible faith of those who throw all caution to the wind and trust God in such situations (I know, I have some of my own), but I began to wonder why so much of this kind of faith only serves to create the illusion of a greater faith that establishes anything but a true union in Christ.
I think we need to realize that many of those so-called official situations we run into in this world fall under the truth found in the statement: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. You see, two opposing legal mindsets joined forces in the attempt to force God to fit into either one or the other … you know, one of those theological conundrums (puzzles). The fact was that all they were presenting to Jesus were different flavors of fleshly reasoning, and Jesus forced it back upon them by demanding them to really hold to the so-obvious confusion of their superior wisdoms.
We do live IN this world, but do we live BY this world and its wisdom or rules? If we do, then we have not died to it, have we? The rules belong to the natural mind that finds it cannot function without them for it will not hold to them (at least in form) unless it can somehow force itself to do so. The sooner we recognize this the sooner we will realize that our freedom is not limited by the limitations of the flesh and its officiality … nor enhanced by its form.
There seems to be a simple commonality in all wedding rituals and that is the witnessing of the joining. Though licenses are held up as making something official and maybe to aid in control, the truth is that there remains this unrelenting desire for a man and woman to join together. In this, there is the continual demand of a real union that people from all over the world have sought to find. It demands Christ … even though we keep trying to make the shadow into the reality of union.
I see your point of how it really is a shadow of the union of Christ with His body, but the shadow of marriage still also seems to be a reality and so wasn’t sure of the point that you were making with that.
With regard to the vow, I think it discourages in scripture somewhere the taking of vows. If you didn’t do vows, then what would you do? That seems at the present time the “center stage” of it all. But do understand how that that then can become law also. I have known couples that got along fine and happily while living together and then got married and had all kinds of problems. It occured to me that it was because now they were under law to stay together and law brings death and so it seems to have brought death to those particular marriages.
Not sure about what you were saying about Ceasar and making it official. I guess my main question to you would be: If you were just now going to get married for the first time, knowing what you know now, how would you do that? Thanks.
Joyce, thanks for responding with your uncertainty as to my point.
First off, I am a big proponent of marriage … even though I may say some things that make people wonder. BTW, Sherri and I just celebrated our 28th anniversary (on Friday, the 13th of this month …. ) and it has been a great relationship!
There is real relationship in the marriage union, but marriage has been too often perceived as an end in itself. I would imagine that many who despise the idea of marriage have done so because they have mostly witnessed emptiness in the thing that is supposed to demonstrate love.
Quite a while ago I had noticed something very interesting in the famous wedding passage:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.’ Ephesians 5:22-31
Here Paul has entered this presentation of the “mystery” of the marriage union between the husband and the wife. But then he adds an often ignored bit at the end of it:
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:32-33
Now, what part of what he had written up to that point was Paul speaking of as being in reference to Christ? Some suggest it only regards the quote from Genesis, but then why did he include that “Nevertheless” clause in which he repeats the basis of relationship between husband and wife (i.e. love and respect)?
In other words, even though Paul had so plainly written about the relationship between a husband and a wife that it is used in multitudes of ceremonies, he claimed that it was all in reference to Christ and the church (that which is born of God). He took something very real in their everyday lives (though temporary) to describe the relationship between Christ and those joined to him. Of course, none of this is merely a convenient “illustration” as it had been built in to humanity (made after the image of God). Christ is truly the all in all.
Not sure about what you were saying about Ceasar and making it official.
The world we live in (i.e. “Caesar’s” realm) demands obedience to certain outward forms —in this case the legal marriage license. To many, it defines marriage by making it into a relationship of contract; others will resist it for the opposite reason. But knowing the eternal reality behind the temporal reality brings sanity so that we don’t have to make everything a battle. As for me, I’m not going to waste my time trying to change the protocols of the world, unless I’m given a very good reason.
I guess my main question to you would be: If you were just now going to get married for the first time, knowing what you know now¸how would you do that?
I don’t know that I would do it very much different than it was done. We had family and friends around us to witness our newly-formed relationship. I mean, I’m sure I would ask about a few things here and there, but I have no regret regarding the festivity of the evening!