By Scott Keith –
Recently, my oldest son, Caleb, got married to a very wonderful young woman, Erika. Pastor Koch was kind enough to perform the service for which we are all very thankful. During the sermon, Pastor Koch did something which he is keenly adept to do… He called out all of the crap that had gone on during the planning of the wedding. Now don’t get me wrong, Erika is no Bridezilla, and Caleb was not a runaway groom. It was just that there had been some anxieties, opposition, change of plans, change of venue, and hard feeling that had gone on during the planning of the wedding, which needed to be dealt with and forgiven before we could greet these two as a married couple. At the end of the day, all of the contention and heartache concerning the wedding had to do with answering the question: is this a wedding we are celebrating or a marriage?
Ideally, all weddings are a celebration of a new marriage. Family and friends gather around the bride and groom in order to lift them up and greet them as they become one before God and everyone else. Our society has turned this phenomenon into a celebration of the thing itself. That is; weddings are now celebrations of weddings. The “special day,” is the focus and not the thing that the day is intended to celebrate; the marriage. Now, as someone who has for better or worse been in the human services and programming business for some 20 years, I can tell you that any time you are putting all of your eggs in one basket over a particular day or event, you are asking for trouble. Further, this continual focus on a day misses the point of marriage completely.
In a marriage, two separate people become one person in Christ. This couple then goes on to, God willing, become a family in Christ. A marriage is a joining for life. Marriage is a lifelong blessing. Marriage is beautiful and wonderful and really hard. Marriage is worth celebrating not only for a day but every day, because it is one way that God truly blesses us while we are on this earth. In a marriage, God gives us a partner with whom He allows us to share all of the joys and burdens we will face before we see Him in glory on account of Christ. Therefore, being married is also a vocation, or calling, given to us by God. We are called to be a husband or wife, and thus called, hopefully, eventually to be a father and mother as well. It is a built in means by which we have the opportunity to share Christ with our would-be neighbors, our children, and thus pass on the faith.
Marriage is a blessing because it produces gifts; togetherness, mercy, kindness, children, hope, faith, strength, assurance, and finally, forgiveness.
This brings me full circle to Pastor Koch’s wedding message for Caleb and Erika, and for us all. The message, as mentioned, called out all of the crap that was the drama of the wedding, and re-focused us all on the marriage that is the life of forgiveness. Forgiveness and relationships go hand in hand. Without the forgiveness we receive on account of Christ we would have no relationship with God, and in turn a poor relationship with one another. Forgiveness, therefore, stands as the cornerstone of all relationships, especially marriage. By forcing us all to see that we had caused hurt and pain over a celebration we call a wedding, Pastor Koch was able to focus us on the forgiveness that is a marriage, making that marriage all “our marriage” and thus worth celebrating with a wedding. So in the end, it is not wedding vs. marriage, but wedding because of marriage.