I just officiated my first wedding.
The pressure was off (the couple had already officially wed in a pre-Covid ceremony), and I was asked to preside over a day of rededication and commitment to love in the lives of two amazing people I hold very dear.
I was blessed to be there as a friend to both of them, and I’ve been grateful for their many years of influence over my life, both as friends and advocates for my life and post-cancer health and wellness journey.
I loved getting to be part of the celebration because I’ve been cheering on this couple ever since they phoned me up on the way to their honeymoon and asked me if I would preside over the day when they would get to celebrate their union with the family, friends, and special people in their lives.
I was just as overjoyed to officiate as I was on the other end of that phone call and hearing the love and excitement in both of their voices as we discussed what we would get together to do.
Now, that phone call is a beautiful memory of a different, less complicated time.
I was so honored and struck to be able to assume such an intimate role in one of life’s most incredible events. It’s these kinds of gatherings that make life worth living. Even through all of the heartache, pain, suffering and events in life that would leave us empty, or embittered, there are many more lovely and beautiful events that are so sweet and awe-inspiring they just take your breath away.
Before I dove into the ceremony message and some thoughts I have about marriage, as well as some advice for the couple, I took a meaningful moment to acknowledge the special friends and family members who made both the decision and journey to be there. We gathered together to honor and support two wonderful humans during a very challenging time in our world.
The current cultural moment has sown and continues to sow a lot of division and strife, but what an incredible opportunity we all said Yes to — to choose to come together to celebrate a loving union.
The latin writer Syrus gave us a really sweet sentiment that also packs a powerful punch when I think about what it takes today to gather in joy, in love, and in celebration. He said:
“Where there is unity, there is always victory.”
Syrus was a Latin writer in 1st century BC Rome, a Syrian originally from Antioch who was brought as a slave to Roman Italy. And for a man who lacked freedom in the physical sense (I know everyone reading this can relate to feeling that way after the last 18 months), he understood that together is not simply a wonderful place to be: it is the key to overcoming division, anger, and fear because unity activates the power of God to operate in the human family and in the body of Christ.
And wherever you are, if you’re choosing to gather–to being together with others–I know you can fully appreciate that victory Syrus was talking about.
Together is not just a state of being. It is a place where a person can know and perceive a sense of his or her own self worth because it is being reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.
And as I considered what marriage is, that it is a union, a joining of hearts, a mingling of two souls, I couldn’t help by think about what our culture tries to do. Culture certainly attempts to jade the perspective of marriage as something more negative than positive, restrictive, that the marriage bond somehow binds you or prohibits the individual from reaching his or her full potential.
Some would contend that marriage is no longer relevant, an antiquated practice that hinders or forces a person to live in a way where what you want takes a backseat, or becomes an afterthought, or the individual’s life and dreams are never fully realized.
The truth is what I spoke over my friends on their special recommitment day, and it’s what I want to speak over you today. The truth is that marriage is a wonderful, meaningful gift from God, given with such great and intentional care by a loving Father. It is fueled by grace and redemptive power and HOPE. God wired marriage into the instincts of humanity when he said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
He weaved it into the fabric of human nature to stir longing and prepare hearts for love, first the love of your earthly counterpart and then the eternal love of Christ.
Marriage is a glorious demonstration of the triumph of God’s plan to gather all things under his Son. Marriage is not a battleground but a field of victory, where two uniquely imperfect people can remain united to each other in temporal pursuit of an eternal goal. Indeed, it’s God’s chosen illustration of Christ’s covenant love for his church.
So for all of us (whether you’re single, married, divorced, or widowed) we can pray for married couples, but also celebrate the intimate union of all believers with Christ—the one to whom we will one day be united in the ultimate “match made in heaven.”
I’m thankful that my sweet friends know and understand that marriage is meant to be entered into and built atop the foundation on which it was intended: Jesus. They’re about so spend the rest of their lives finding out exactly what that means. God designed marriage to be the lifelong union of one man and one woman working toward a shared goal, not toward mere happiness. This means two saved sinners huddled up as one team under the rule of Christ to love God, love people, and to make disciples.
To seek the Kingdom first and at all costs.
Marriage is about making an important discovery: you will be more blessed by serving God together than by making personal satisfaction your governing idol. A loving husband and a devoted wife, pursuing the goal of the gospel.
That’s what marriage is. A journey into the unfamiliar, a daring adventure that invites you to partner together to follow God’s leading and to say Yes to Him in your life’s shared mission—the Great Commission is a CO-mission to be shared between the couple: the two becoming one to bear witness of the goodness and the grace of God to the people their lives will touch.
The purpose of the marriage is to pray, to partner with God, and to execute on His plans for your lives for the good of others and for His ultimate glory. The goal of the marriage is not that you would benefit—although I told them I have no doubt that what you have committed to be holy and pleasing to God will bring favor and blessing to their family team you never imagined—the goal of your marriage is to benefit others while you out bless each other.
Married or not, I think we could all do well to recommit ourselves to gather and seek unity, no matter what issues aim to divide us.
In Syrus’ words, we need the victory that unity always brings, and we need it NOW.
If this post struck a chord with you, I want you to know I care deeply about how we can all build unity inside our relationships, including with the young girls we lead. If you’re looking for ways to dive deeper and connect with your girl, be sure to check out our brand new digital subscription, Bible Belles Monthly. Click here to sign up for our email list and we’ll send you all the details!