I like weddings. I thoroughly enjoyed mine–it was an all-day affair that brought great glory to Christ and was a joy to share with Shirley and others. As a clergyman, I’ve married many other wonderful couples who used their weddings to promote the virtues and symbols of uniting together as man and wife.
For this reason, I followed the recent royal wedding with some interest, especially due to the media hype that caused it to be watched by billions of people around the world. Some folks criticized the tax-payer expense to the average Brit, and others pointed out the bonanza in tourism that the wedding would bring.
I don’t really care about the financial debate. I’m concerned that the marriage of William and Kate, though they appear to be decent people, is yet another example of diluting the beauty and dignity of marriage.
Marriage doesn’t need any more polluting images. It’s already under siege–and needs to be restored to its once wonderful and lofty place.
During my lifetime, the institution of marriage has been greatly cheapened and tarnished. It’s happened before in other time periods, but I’ve only lived in this one–and it grieves me deeply.
When I was born in the 1950s, marriage was held in high esteem in the United States and many parts of the world. Its ceremonies and traditions meant something and were very unique and special. They were tied to the Word of God and expressed His perspective on love, commitment, purity, and fidelity.
But along came the 1960s rebellion against authority–including the institution of marriage–and the promotion of “free love” without godly parameters. Since that raucous period, the change of worldview in the West has greatly polluted the pure stream of God’s intentions for holy wedlock–with most of the changes being hurtful for men, women, and especially children.
What pains me the most is how the lies of the evil one have become so accepted in contemporary culture–the ones that produced William and Kate and the “Royal Wedding.” Yes–it was a beautiful affair–and many of the words shared in the service were excellent regarding God’s perspective on marriage (Gary Randall has a good blog here on the positives). I’malso sure that William and Kate “love” each other and have a fifty percent chance of living ‘happily ever after.”
So what’s the beef?
It’s this: William and Kate really didn’t get married on April 29, 2011.
They’ve been living together for years for crying our loud! That’s a decade of common law marriage–an arrangement not done according to the divine blueprint.
In other words, in God’s eyes, they were already “married”–at least in a cheapened form of the term.
Because here’s the little lost secret of the meaning of the word “marriage:” The essence of marriage is “joining together”–sexually and otherwise. That unique joining –uniting closely in love and affection according to the original Webster’s 1828 Dictionary–has been robbed of its specialness and power through the excesses of the sexual revolution.
So the modern wedding ceremony and its many spiritual symbols don’t mean much anymore. In Kate and William’s case:
- There was nothing exhilarating about them “becoming man and wife.” They’ve been living that way for years.
- Her white dress was only show. It used to stand for the purity of a bride who had not shared sexual relations with any man prior to her vows. In her case, the meaning was gone because she’d been sexually active for years.
- The kiss at the end of the ceremony didn’t mean anything either. In the past, it was a very poignant moment where the bride and groom kissed each other for the very first time. It was the reward of self-control and honor–and was applauded by those in attendance who appreciated the love and sacrifice that brought couples to that moment.
- The giving of the rings and the signing of the papers was also shallow. They used to mean a solemn covenant to love one another until death do us part. In the case of the royals, many that have gone before them (Andrew and Fergie & Charles and Diana) made a mockery of the commitment. In today’s world, there’s a fifty percent chance that William and Kate will do likewise.
In other words, sexual immorality greatly cheapened William and Kate’s beautiful gift of marriage. The ceremony was essentially a show with empty symbols. The beauty was there–but it was all an illusion that did not speak to deeper truths or lifestyle reality.
It was all, really, a lie. And we know where lies come from.
Unfortunately, in the past few decades the devil has had a field-day deceiving us about love, relationships, and marriage. The purpose of these lies has been to destroy us as individuals and ultimately collapse our culture due to removing the pillar support of godly marriages and families.
He’s done a pretty good job of that–and the fruit of broken and dysfunctional lives all around us is strong evidence of his tragic success. Sure, at this point we’ve become a bit callous to it all, but reality is rather blinding. The devil has been extremely effective in discipling Western societies in phony love and perversions of marriage.
Here are a few of his “marriage and healthy relationships” deceptions:
1. All teens need to “couple up” way before they’re ready for marriage and commitment. In fact, let’s just announce that we are “in a relationship” on MySpace or Facebook! Then we can play kissy face, get involved sexually, break up, cry, feel guilty, and have all our friends comfort us (and get in line to be the next candidate) Then we can do it again and again so that by the time we get to the real thing we’ve given away our heart and body so many times that marriage means very little indeed.
2. After beating us up through many hook-ups and break-ups, then why not do a “trial run” by living together in the illusion of marriage? Yes, we need to really find out if we’re sexually and psychologically compatible! Kind of like trying out a used car–kicking the tires—until you find the right one. Of course, statistics have told us for years that common law or shacking up “marriages” do not increase compatibility and commitment. They diminish it.
3. Even if we get a ring and sign the papers, there’s an easy way out: No fault divorce! Now there’s a misnomer for you. Obviously when two people sever a marriage relationship, somebody must be at fault–at least one–and usually both. But no-fault divorce is a convenient satanic lie because it rationalizes guilt and makes me feel better about blaming the other party and moving on to my next victim, er, spouse. No-fault divorce is one of the worst laws of the past fifty years. It’s shredded the institution of marriage for decades.
4. And since marriage is about me meeting my needs–and doing whatever it takes to get there–then who cares about the kids that we produce. They can change households every two weeks, grow up without a dad or mom–or have two sets of each–and turn out just wonderful! I don’t believe we can begin to imagine the scars and hurts we’ve placed in the lives of precious children who needed one mom and dad and the security of a thing called “home.”
5. And finally, let’s so destroy the concept of marriage that we convince ourselves that basically anybody can marry anybody else if they “love” each other (devil’s definition of course). So now we have homosexual marriage and will soon have multiple spouses and humans marrying animals–all in the name of liberated love! What’s incredible about “homosexual marriage” is that, by definition, men cannot marry men and women cannot marry women because the “plumbing” can’t be joined. No matter–we’ll make it work somehow (in very perverse and consequential ways).
I’ve taken a little fun above to make a point, but I’m truly grieved at the warping and cheapening of marriage during the early part of the 21st century. It has hurt and destroyed so many people–and continues to do so in our culture.
So what can we learn from the Royal Wedding? I suggest we open our eyes and make a firm commitment to return to God’s beautiful design for human marriage. You can start in the marriage you already have, or if you’re single, make a commitment to not put on an empty show with symbols that mean little. If you have some courage and convictions, you can:
- Kiss serial dating goodbye and enjoy many healthy friendships in your growing up years that do not involve sex and its responsibilties. Save yourself for that special “other.”
- Save the kiss! Preparations for marriage don’t require it, and will make that moment in your ceremony something others and you and your wife will cherish for a lifetime.
- Prepare for marriage with God’s choice for you through a courtship relationship where families are involved, discipleship is key, and the friendship is kept pure and growing.
- Keep sex out of it before marriage. It was sheer joy to be a virgin when I entered my marriage thirty-five years ago. I’d saved myself for Shirley. She was worth waiting for. The honeymoon was truly that–almost heaven on earth.
- Be faithful for a lifetime. Maybe you’ve messed up and need to repent and get up on the right and pure road. That’s okay. Redemption is God’s specialty–even of marriages.
Young person: If you handle marriage God’s way you will never be disappointed. But if you follow the devil’s blueprint, you will pierce yourself with many a pang and cheapen and dilute that which was meant to be a very wonderful, life-giving stream of blessing in your life.
Be courageous! You can do it. Let’s restore the beauty and dignity of marriage so that all the symbols and ceremony give honor and glory to the One who designed it for our good.