It was especially hot that day. The temp was in the high 90’s and the humidity was over the top. I was standing in a little white Methodist Church (no air conditioning) situated on a small lake in Indiana, dressed in a rented tux and new shoes that pinched my feet. My poor wife to be was also going through her own set of problems dressed in a gorgeous white wedding dress and veil and shoes that pinched her feet as well. It was mid August. The small church was packed with 350 people, some spilling outside and the Minister was late…30 minutes late. We had carefully picked out the music we wanted played, but the pianist went through those pieces in short order and played hymns that he knew well. About every 5 minutes he would play “Rock of Ages” because he knew that one best.
The Minister finally arrived and Loretta walked down the isle being careful not to step on anybody (the isle was filled with folding chairs) with her father close behind. When it came time to put the ring on Loretta’s finger, my best man handed me a bubble gum ring. All his life, ever the prankster and I love him even to this day. After the ceremony, we were treated to a ride in the back of a small decorated trailer towed by and old farm jeep through the streets of Lake Cicott while a parade of cars followed honking horns and people yelling. At the reception, we ran out of cake and were reduced to serving Oreo cookies. Was I mortified?… you bet. But Loretta took it all in stride as she does most things. That was 48 years ago.
We had a year to plan our wedding. We spent that year getting ready to move into our first house together and spent a lot of time talking about how wonderful the day would be and dreaming of the future. We also spent some time speaking with our Minister who in spite of being late for our wedding had some very wise and down to earth counseling. When we went for our blood test, the doctor would not draw blood until we counseled with him first. He too brought to our attention things we had not considered. We both took a course in Marriage and Family and talked over children and just how we expected to live with each other.
I spent a lot of time trying to research this essay, and in the end was disappointed with the results. People wrote that the Bible never mentions the word “marry” yet in my version (the King James) it is mentioned in Proverbs Mathew, Mark, and Deuteronomy. It doesn’t really tell you what marriage has to do with the Church, but the word is indeed there. Marriage is a social bond. People are not storming the churches concerning same sex marriage; they are, however storming the capital buildings of the states.
I am going to quote a very good friend of ours. It came to me in an email that he sent. I don’t know if an email is public domain or not and I did not even ask him if I could quote him. Things have gotten so complicated in this age of digital technology that one can’t be sure that one does not inadvertently commit plagiarism. I’ll put it in quotes just to be sure.
“My hope is that someday the government will create a full separation from the institution of ‘marriage’ and provide the civil service of legalizing all commitments of 2 people, in situations of mutuality and equal empowerment, etc i.e. no marrying inside the family, or marrying your cat, or marrying someone under the age of some good age. And then let the churches decide on what constitutes the ‘holy bond of marriage’. You don’t like same sex marriages? Then don’t have them in your church. (But they would still carry all legal status matter). That would be a better expression of the separation of church and state than anything we have now.”
Words are dynamic. We redefine words all the time; a couple comes to mind “cool” and “Gay”. The word Marriage is in the process of being redefined as well. We can no longer define marriage as a union between a man and a woman which is the definition in not so old, but older dictionaries. But… the essence of being married is not changed. To a Christian, marriage still means a commitment, before man and God of two people living together in love…for life. That is the holy bond of marriage.
Why do YOU think the church should care about marriage?