The Sacredness of Christian Wedding Vows
Traditionally, wedding ceremonies don’t take much longer than half an hour or so. There are always a lot of tears, beautiful words about love, and sometimes Biblical passages that will be read either before or after the vows. Typically there are passages about love (most notably 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,13) or about the roles of the husband and the wife (taken from Ephesians 5:21-29), and about how both are to submit to one another completely since they have now become one.
In a religious wedding ceremony, it isn’t just the two people who are marrying each other – there is a third person involved: Christ. As Christians, we are commanded to love the Lord more fully than we love anyone or anything else – including a romantic partner. When two people join together to be married, while they are supposed to love and serve each other, they are also supposed to love and serve the Lord as a couple. This is one of the reasons that the wedding ceremony and the vows are so important; a couple is committing to love the other person just as Christ loved and laid down His life for His Bride (the Church and Christians all around the world).
“(4) Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always hopes, always perseveres. (8) Love never fails. (13) So Faith, Hope and Love abide these three; But the Greatest of these is Love!” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13
While this passage is beautiful and romantic, it is about much more than about romantic love. It is about the love of Christ for all people. In 1 John 4:8, the apostle states directly that God is love. He not only created what love is, He is love itself, wholly and completely. That is why, when some couples hear this passage, they don’t only think about love as being romantic love, but as being God and His kind of love – which is directed at others instead of back at ourselves. God’s kind of love is unselfish and goes completely against human inclinations – and it is impossible to have and give this kind of love to others without God’s help. Which is, again, why two people are not just marrying each other, Christ is also involved in their marriage. It is also critical to remember that this passage not only pinpoints essentials of God’s character, but reflects the traditional wedding vows themselves.
According to tradition in the Roman Catholic Church or in the Protestant Church, the vows sound something like this, “I, _________, take you/thee, ___________, to be my lawful, wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, and cherish, until death do us part/for all the days of my life.” It doesn’t say “until I get tired of you,” nor “until we aren’t in the honeymoon phase,” nor “until I find someone that I think I love more.” It is a contract between two partners to stay together in the good times and bad, come Hell or high water, until one or both partners pass into eternity. It reflects Christ’s love in that it never gives up, and fights to lift the other person up while becoming smaller and smaller. Love is about sacrifice and God’s love never fails.
All photos are property of David Mendoza III