Wedding Day Counsel
I will officiate at a wedding ceremony today. My wedding sermons aren’t really sermons but meditations. They are short but calculated. I view the wedding meditation as the last effort on the heels of pre-marital counseling to sink the arrow into the target. The target, of course, is the couple. The teaching is the gospel and its constituent elements.
Today I’m going to start by taking a brief jab at our culture and how it attempts to thwart marriage. The groom who will stand before me today will be tempted to succumb to the pressures of the culture. Not every man who appears passive in his role as husband is so because he is stupid or lazy. No, far too often he takes the passive approach because the culture has made him to feel an unwarranted shame for his divinely appointed role as head of the home. So, the result is that he downplays his role. He takes the passive approach. In effect, he looks witless.
The woman, on the other hand, will face a great deal of pressure if she does not take the lead role in the marriage. More is expected of her. She is viewed by our culture as the brains of the operation. Of course, no one wants to shame her if she does decide to stay home and have children. No, our culture will only persecute a woman if she publicly professes to believe that her husband is the head of the home. But even then she is not brainless but only brainwashed by a patriarchal past that must be purged.
So, I will encourage this young couple to live according to the roles set forth by God in His Word (Ephesians 5:22-33). She is to submit to him in all things in Christ and he is to love her as Christ loves the church. Now, how will a young couple step into and live out these roles? Well, they will grow up in Christ and as they do they will become more and more accustomed to living out their role. It’s that simple. It’s a matter of sanctification. They must grow up in Christ and grow into their roles.
However, I Corinthians 13 provides some help along the way. Think about the elements that make love the godly love that it is. It is patient and kind. The two are compatible. The word patient is made up of two Greek words. The first word has the idea of distance or space. The second has to do with boiling up. The meaning is obvious. The patient person puts distance between himself and his boiling point! Instead he is kind and gentle. Now, apply this to the love a husband demonstrates as head of his home and the submission called for by the wife. Imagine how many arguments could be avoided by the exercise of patience and kindness in the home.
But love is neither envious nor boastful nor is it arrogant or rude. Here is the temptation for a new wife. She will be tempted by our culture to envy her husband’s place. And if she gives into the culture she may treat her husband like that of the culture’s caricature. She may boast over her brains and bust his proverbial chops when he fails at some domestic point. But if that’s the temptation for the new wife then the new husband may be tempted to insist on getting his own way instead of discussion. He may be rude in doing so. He may become irritable at resistance keeping a tally of his wife’s offenses.
But true love does not rejoice in this sort of behavior. Love rejoices in truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends. So, I will encourage this couple to rejoice in the truth of God’s Word. Can you imagine a husband who loves like Christ and a wife who submits to this sort of love? Theirs will be a house of rejoicing.
But I’ll encourage them to do one thing more. I will encourage them to look to Christ. There will be times when one will make the other boil. There will be times when one will be rude to the other provoking still more irritability. Sadly, there will be wrongdoing and rejoicing in it. So, I will encourage them to look to Christ. In doing so, they will be reminded to both repent of their failures and forgive the other’s offenses just as their Savior forgave them all their sins.
Jeffrey A. Stivason is the pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He also holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Jeff is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and is the Executive Editor for Place for Truth.