I’ve done two wedding this year, and will be helping at my niece’s this weekend. I am starting to always say the same thing, because I think it is important:
Many people think of marriage as a promise you make with your fingers crossed. You can not stand here, in the presence of these witnesses, with your fingers crossed. This is not a promise you can break because it doesn’t suit you anymore or because something better comes along.
Or they think of it as a contract, with certain legal implications. But it is neither of these. It is not a contract either. We make contracts to insure our rights and protect our interests. You did not come here to insure your rights but to give them away. You did not come here to protect your interests, but to surrender them.
Marriage is instead a covenant. In making covenant you pledge to love each other as God has loved you, without conditions and without bounds. This is a new reality and you have declared your intention to embrace it willingly and without reservation.
You see, a covenant is not just a promise before God, it is a promise like God’s, who has said He will never leave you nor forsake you. If God were to break His promises, our very universe would fail. The covenant you make in marriage is that kind of promise—one as much like His promises as possible. A covenant is a promise that results in action.
God’s covenant with us is concrete, demonstrated by the sacrifice of His own Son on our behalf, the New Covenant in His blood. This is the Gospel—to accept this gift, freely offered to those who believe. To believe this is to be changed by it.
Marriage is a picture of that same Gospel. To make a covenant is to make a promise and then to keep the promise—it is the gift you give each other that requires you to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to live together, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, until death alone separates you.
It is for this reason the Apostle Paul says that marriage is a mystery that speaks of Christ and the church. This is most important things about marriage; it is a picture of God’s love for His people.
It is the most fundamental picture we know. Your friends and family here today will look at your lives together and see how Christ loves his church. Someday your children will understand God’s love by the way you have loved each other. So the most important thing you are doing is becoming a picture for everyone of how God loves His people and keeps His promises.
So do not fail in this. You are showing people what it means to make a covenant and keep it. And in doing this, you are showing them how God makes and keeps His promises.
So give your marriage the time and energy it deserves, as a testimony of God’s own covenant keeping love. Find a church and join it, pray together, study the Scriptures, seek the advice of godly men and women. Live in the shadow of His cross and for His glory.
Make God the foundation of your marriage and earnestly seek His wisdom and His blessing.
And most of all, seek Him.
I’ve written about weddings a lot.