Sunday, June 07, 2015
Note: I had the privilege of performing a wedding on Friday evening at Ash Lawn Highland for a young couple from our church. Here is the text of the wedding sermon.
Tom Frick and Sarah Washburn
June 5, 2015
Genesis 2:20-24; Ephesians 5:17-33
It is time. We have arrived. This is what all the preparation and planning has been about. This is the time for the two of you to stand here before God, before your families, and before these Christian witnesses to make a covenant with the Lord and with each other to live as husband and wife.
God has brought you together to bless you and grow you stronger in Christ and through your union to bless others. But most of all he has brought you together to magnify his glory in your union.
There is no magic. There are no secret incantations. We will be here just a few brief minutes. The amazing thing is that you will likely feel no different 20-30 minutes from now, but your whole life will be changed forever. You walk in here today as two people, you will leave as one. You walk in here as a son and a daughter from two distinct and different households; you leave having laid the foundation for your own household. You have come to be married.
You have come here to do something that many in the world today are finding to be a limiting inconvenience to be avoided altogether or—at the least—to be postponed as long as possible. And that’s not even to mention all those who are trying to change the very definition of this sacred institution. You are making a pledge at a young age to live together for a lifetime in covenant as husband and wife. What you are doing is counter-cultural and Biblical.
What is marriage?
The Bible tells us that marriage was the first social institution created by God. When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, God saw that is was not good for man to be alone and that there was no “help meet for him” among all the other creatures (Gen 2:20). God then completed an act of spiritual surgery. God placed Adam in a deep sleep, and he drew a rib from Adam’s side and fashioned the first woman. God then brought her to the man. A wife comes as God’s gift to man.
In Genesis 2:23 we read:
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.
In Genesis 2:24, then, God himself ordains the institution of marriage with these words:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Now, sadly, human sinfulness has tarnished the goodness of that original design. After the fall of man into sin as recorded in Genesis 3, corruption, distortion, and competition came into the marriage relationship.
Then, when the God-man Jesus Christ came into this world, he began the redemption of the marriage relationship, calling us back to the pre-Fall ideal. As Christians we strive to have Genesis 1-2 marriages in a Genesis 3 world.
When the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with questions about divorce in Matthew 19, he answered by calling them back to Genesis 1-2:
Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 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? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
This was also the teaching of the apostles, as evidenced by Paul’s writings in Ephesians 5:22-33:
By God’s grace all men may enjoy the benefits of the institution of marriage. Only the Christian, however, realizes its true nature and intent—to reflect the relationship and design of government between Christ and the church.
Sarah, you are to love Tom in the same way that the church loves Christ—by godly and intelligent submission and reverence for him as your husband.
J. R. Miller in the 1882 book titled Home-Making writes:
A true wife makes a man’s life nobler, stronger, grander… ‘turning all the forces of manhood upward and heavenward.’ While she clings to him in holy confidence and loving dependence she brings out in him whatever is noblest and richest in his being. She inspires him with courage and earnestness. She beautifies his life. She softens whatever is rude and harsh in his habits or his spirit. She clothes him with the gentler graces of refined and cultured manhood. While she yields to him and never disregards his lightest wish, she is really his queen, ruling his whole life and leading him onward and upward in every proper path (p. 58).
Tom, you are to love Sarah in the same way that Jesus loves the church—by godly and manly self-sacrifice, radically and always placing her needs above your own.
Again, Miller writes:
It is a solemn thing for any man to assume such a trust and take a life—a gentle, delicate, confiding young life—into his keeping, to cherish, to shelter, to bless, until death either takes the trust out of his hands or strikes him down.
Alas how many never realize the sacredness of the responsibility they so lightly assume! How many fail, too, to keep the holy trust! How many trample with rude feet upon the delicate lives they swore at the altar to defend and cherish till death! How many let selfishness rule instead of love! How many fail to answer the needs of the tender hearts they have pledged themselves to fill and satisfy with love! Every husband should understand that when a woman, the woman of his own free will and deliberate choice, places her hand in his and thus becomes his wife, she has taken her life, with all its hopes and fears, all its possibilities of joy and sorrow, all its capacities for development, all its tender and sacred interests, and placed it in his hand, and that he is under the most solemn obligations to do all in his power to make that life happy, beautiful, noble, and blessed. To this he must be ready to make any personal sacrifice. Nothing less than this can be implied in loving as Christ loved his Church when he gave himself for it (p. 36).
We should recognize today that you each marry a sinner. You have both fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Yet you also marry a sinner who has been saved by grace through faith and one who is steadily being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
It is to forge such a union that blesses man and honors Christ that we come here today.
Jeffrey T. Riddle, Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Louisa, Virginia