Weddings happen all the time, and because they happen all the time, it is easy to miss how remarkable it all is. God is so good to us, and pours out so many blessings upon us, that our tendency is to take it all for granted, and to assume that His good gifts and graces are somehow our ongoing entitlement. And once we have made that fatal error, we don’t even notice the greatness and goodness of all these blessings . . . until they start to disappear. You don’t miss your water till the well runs dry.
Out of all the blessings that God has given us, the marriage of a man and a woman is one of the most profound and mysterious. The writer of Proverbs professed himself mystified at “the way of a man with a maid” (Prov. 30:19). He was seeing the world with eyes wide open, and he was taking nothing for granted.
Chesterton saw this point clearly as well.
“Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman. To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I could only be born once. It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking. It showed, not an exaggerated sensibility to sex, but a curious insensibility to it. A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once.”
Because we have treated weddings and marriage as an ordinary and humdrum thing, we have failed to protect it as an institution. The reason we have failed to protect it is that we have failed to marvel at it.
Marriage is the cradle of immortality. Marriage is an institution created by God in the Garden, and it was established when God fashioned a woman from the rib of the man, and presented his bride to him. The first bride was given away by Jehovah Himself. And what He told our first parents to do was to be fruitful, and in the same breath He told us to exercise dominion over everything in the world. This was going to take a lot of people, and this is why God established marriage as the nursery of immortal souls, as the seed from which billions of men and woman have grown. And the process continues down to the present, and here we are. When God blesses any marriage with children, what is He doing? He is using this, His institution, as the vehicle for bringing into existence beings who will live forever.
Now someone might object and say that a child can be brought into this world quite apart from marriage, and that many are. But this is like saying that private property doesn’t exist because thieves do exist. It is like saying that because vandals wreck something valuable, then that value wasn’t really there. We should never evaluate the worth of anything by the measurements of those who understand nothing. Our sole question should be “what does God say about it?”
And the Lord Jesus told us plainly what God thinks about it. “What God has joined together . . .” He says (Matt. 19:6). We are not gathered here in this room to perform one of our little social customs. God is here. This is His doing. The one who fashioned us all (in the womb of marriage) is present with us today. When the vows are spoken, God is the one who seals them. This wedding is part of that great cascading blessing that God began with that first ceremony in Eden. Who knows how many hundreds of thousands of people will come into this world downstream from this moment? And they will all live forever, every last one of them.
Jonathan, as you are stepping into this role as the head of this home, think of your descendants, most of whom you will not meet in this life. This means that your central gift to them is going to be given by means of the love and consideration you show to this woman. Love this woman, and love her children. That is your connection point to everyone and everything else. And by love I do not mean a maudlin sentimentality, but rather I mean the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility. I am talking about a love that bleeds. If you see the priceless worth of what God is giving you here, you will not hesitate. You are charged to provide for your household, and to protect your household. And in order to do this, you cannot allow yourself to become the one that they need protection from. That’s the worst. You must be a well-provisioned fortress, which is what you are promising to do in the vows coming up. And that is why you need to be regularly saying, so help me God.
Jaela, you are to be the center of the home that Jonathan is to be the head of. You should want to establish a particular sort of home, the kind that a man would rather die than to let anyone disrupt, or wreck, or threaten. When the Lord laid down His life for us, He did not do this because we were already worthy. We most emphatically were not. But Scripture tells us that as a result of His sacrifice, we are made worthy. We become worthy. We are told to walk in a way that is worthy. By way of analogy, you may not feel worthy of the sacrifices that Jonathan is called to make—remember that he is commanded to love you as Christ loved the church, and that’s a tall order. Do not ask if you deserve it—but you should walk in a way that is worthy of it.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.