And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.(Matthew 19:5-6)
I performed a wedding yesterday, and once again was struck by the beauty of marriage. The bride was radiantly beautiful, dressed in white. Ashley had long prepared herself for this day, now finally it had arrived. Patient waiting and preparation is rewarded.
The groom, Myles, was the picture of anticipation. He wanted to get on with his new life with his beautiful best friend. All seemed to be set before them, new joys, trials, sacrifices, and victories to be lived out on their shared path.
And as always, God was there. There is always a sense of God at the weddings I have been a part of. After all, we know and acknowledge that God is the one who ordained marriage, He is the one who defines and upholds it, for marriage is Holy.“Where two or more are gathered in my name,there am I in the midst of them…”.
By the use of the word Holy, I don’t merely refer to the fact that marriage is pure, or sinless, or even that it is religious. I am using the word “Holy” in its theological sense; marriage is “other”, it is “separate” in fact it is above us! Marriage is bigger than we are.
If marriage was merely a cultural development, or a social construct, I wouldn’t say that it was holy. Perhaps I would say that it useful, or the best possible way to insure the rearing of children, or the result of centuries of the evolution of civilisation, but I wouldn’t describe it as holy!
But marriage is more than the above, much more, for it was ordained by God himself, and established as the basic and original human relationship. Before there was a brotherhood, or father or mother, or church, son ,daughter, society or clan, there was in the beginning man and wife.
Marriage occurred before the fall of man, and before sin and death. The first “not good” uttered by God concerned the problem of man being alone, “It is not good that man should be alone…”.
God has ordained marriage to be the answer to the aloneness of the first man. Man is made in the Image of God, yet he needs a lifelong companion, a compliment, a “help meet” (suited) for him.
How does God take a “not good” and turn it into a “good”?
He first put the man into a deep sleep, and removed his side, (it literally says “side”, not “rib”), which God used to form the woman. God then awakened the man, who now had an opening in his side, and presented the woman to him for the first wedding.
The (as of yet) un-fallen man, Adam, was moved to prophesy at the sight of the lovely creature, woman, formed out of His side, made also in the Image of God, who was created to compliment him in all of life,
“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”(Genesis 2:24-25)
Adam could see something future that his own marriage foreshadowed. According to Paul, the expression “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” has an ultimate application, for there has come a final Bridegroom, whose side was also opened, and who purchased his bride by his own blood! Adam saw this on that day, and rejoiced in it.
“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.“(Ephesians 5:30-32)
There we see much of the mystery that is marriage, every wedding points to the ultimate marriage, that of the Lamb of God to be united forever to the church which he has purchased by his blood. Each wedding is a sort of prophecy, and the anticipation is spiritual.
The joy and hope as Ashley and Myles stood before the holy altar of God to make their solemn vows to love ,honor and cherish one another, were mingled with the sense of awe, gravity and reverent fear of God who ordained and upholds marriage.
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.(Hebrews 13:4)
We knew we were standing in the presence of something greater than we, that there was a continuity in what we were doing, that goes all the way back to the beginning . When we called upon the author of marriage, we knew He was there with us.
Furthermore we were somewhat aware that what we were doing is in itself a dim prophecy of the beautiful future, for the Bible begins with a wedding and ends with a wedding, the Marriage supper of the Lamb. Blessed are all they who are going to be part of this!
This alone explains the joyous,holy, sacred, hopeful, “clean slate” feeling at yesterdays wedding. May Ashley and Myles have a beautiful life! May they be fruitful and bless all of us again and again with beautiful God fearing children. May their bond strengthen all of us! May God the Father bless them, (and us) with joys!
Who would dare tamper with this union? Who would have the utter gall to scoff at, reject or redefine it to the point of an utterly obscene, and blasphemous absurdity? (Gay Marriage!). Who just ignores it as some kind of vain ritual, preferring to elevate fornication, “hooking up” as a viable substitute to (outdated) marriage?
The answer? This “wicked and adulterous generation” which is under God’s judgment.
more on this theme to come…