E-pistle September 12

Let Marriage Be Held in Honor by All
 
In turns out – by the providential grace of God – that September is wedding month at LPC.  Bob Viviano and Jamie Roth will be married tomorrow and Brian Jennings and Eva Lynn a week from tomorrow. 
 
Weddings in our Presbyterian understanding of things are always worship services, always planned so as to give glory to God alone and always opportunities for the full community of faith to worship together.  That is, you’re invited!
 
The order of worship that we use is given to us in The Book of Common Worship, and I like it very much.  It begins with “A Statement on the Gift of Marriage.”  (Click here to read the statement) The statement forms and drives everything else in the service.  I will ask both groom and bride if they understand the gift God has given them in marriage and if they desire to enter into the covenant as described in the statement.  If so, each says “I do.” 
 
Having heard that God has given us marriage so that a man and a woman may “help and comfort each other, living faithfully together in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, throughout all their days,” the groom and the bride will face each other and promise to take the other as wife or husband and live faithfully together in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as they both shall live.
 
It is a wonderful statement, and I commend it to you. 
 
At two points in the wedding service, the pastor issues an admonition to the gathered congregation.  The second is at the end of the service, and I will talk about it briefly during this Sunday’s sermon.  The first is at the end of the Statement on the Gift of Marriage and is taken from Hebrews 13:4.  “Let marriage be held in honor by all,” I will say.
 
Certainly Bob and Jamie, Brian and Eva, must hold marriage in honor and by the promises they make, they indicate their intention to do so.  But having read the Statement on the Gift of Marriage, and having looked mostly at the couple in front of me, I always look to the congregation when I say, “Let marriage be held in honor by all.”
 
Later in the service, the congregation is invited to make a promise to the couple to pray for and encourage them in their marriage.  If there are those in the congregation who don’t hold marriage in honor, they should not make the promise.
 
Let’s face it, though, we live in a time when marriage is not much held in honor by many.  I have not seen the guest lists for either of our September weddings.  If there are some activist judges among the attendees at either wedding, I hope they take the admonition to hold marriage in honor seriously.  Marriage is not honored when it is capriciously redefined to suit the passing whims of a corrupt culture.  If there are some sociology professors from some of the great universities that are nearby us among the guests, I hope they take the admonition to hold marriage in honor seriously.  Marriage is not honored when students are taught that it is merely a social construct that must be deconstructed to be freed from its oppressive past.  If there are some film stars or important people among the cultural elite sitting in the pews, I hope they take the admonition to hold marriage in honor seriously. Marriage is not honored when, at best, it is a vehicle for a series of short-lived relationships quickly abandoned when someone more interesting comes along.  If there are some CEO’s of the biggest corporations attending the wedding, I hope they take the admonition to hold marriage in honor seriously.  Marriage is not honored when workers are made to choose between faithfulness to their marriage vows and success in their careers. 
 
As I said, I haven’t seen the guest lists for tomorrow’s or next Saturday’s weddings.  If there are some LPC folks and their friends in the Sanctuary, I hope they take the admonition to hold marriage in honor seriously.  Marriage is not honored when we watch TV or surf the internet night after night rather than looking into the eyes of our beloved as we did when we were the bride and the groom at some long ago, or not so long ago, wedding.  Marriage is not honored when we give up working on it because it is hard work.  Marriage is not honored when kids’ activities are more important than parents taking time to be together.  Marriage is not honored when all sorts of topics and memories are declared to be no-man’s land and conversation is shallow in the best of times and tense and angry all the rest of the time.  Marriage is not honored when it is not prayed for and about and when God has been excluded from his place in it.  Marriage is not honored when the man and the woman forget that they belong to each other, and no longer with affection and tenderness freely give themselves to each other.  Marriage is not honored when it is not regarded as a gift from God. 
 
The final admonition I give at a wedding is this, “Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.”  Jesus first said it and it comes from Mark 10:9. 
 
Amazing, isn’t it, that God trusts his precious gift of marriage to such as us.  What a good God we have.  Let marriage be held in honor by all.
 
See you Sunday – or maybe at a wedding.