We are gathered here for a wedding, and if we are thinking biblically, we know that we are gathering to do something that we will have a responsibility to remember. This is because weddings and marriages are all about love, which everyone knows, but the Scriptures teach us that love is all about remembering.
In the Bible, forgetting is not something that excuses sin — it is an additional sin. Little children often try to justify themselves by saying something like “but I forgot!” Children are not the only ones who do this, and it represents a dishonest confusion. Forgetfulness is treated as a very serious sin in Scripture because at root it is a failure of love. Love remembers. Remembrance is what love wants to do. Memory is the organ of love, it produces love. Without memory, we would be utterly unable to love.
When the Bible talks about God remembering His people, it is always because He is going to show His love to them. He loves us by remembering us. And when He calls us to love Him in return, He tells us to do it by remembering Him — we are to remember His great acts of deliverance, we are to remember His statutes and laws, and we are to remember how He has revealed Himself to us in the gospel of grace. Remember your God.
There are many, but here is just one example. In Deuteronomy 6, we find the great exhortation to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength. Jesus points to this as the greatest commandment to be found anywhere in Scripture. But when we consider how it says this command is to be kept, we find that without remembrance it would be impossible. You are to talk about the word of God with your children when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you rise up. But you can’t do this if you forgot about it. Memory is key. And we see this just a few verses later, when God anchors the whole point for them – He says, beware, lest you forget the Lord (Dt. 6:12).
It is worth noting that in the verses just prior, we are told what will tend to make us forget – and that would be the material blessings that God Himself provides us. God gives us good things so that we might remember Him, but those things often go to our head instead of our heart, and we take these memory aids and turn them into forgetfulness aids. Like every lover, God gives His beloved tokens. These tokens are from Him, as Deuteronomy makes clear, but these tokens also have the power to create a sense of false entitlement, making us forget the very thing they call us to remember.
Now God doesn’t mind His people having money, but He does mind money having His people. God doesn’t mind His people having the world, but He does mind the world having His people. Love not the world, John tells us, or the things of the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Those three things match up, incidentally, with how the tree in the garden tempted our first parents—the fruit was good for food, pleasant to look at, and able to make them wise. Worldliness is not having things, but rather having things in a way that makes you forget. Are your possessions being held wrongly? Well, do you remember God?
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it – every thing that you see should remind you of Him. But the world and its false system of glory beckons you to forget. Nothing can show you just how much money Americans have as a drive by a large marina on the Chesapeake Bay can. Has this made us mindful of our God? Great tokens can mean great love, or they can mean great ingratitude.
Now this ceremony is a ceremony of love, and so therefore it must be a ceremony of remembrance. The center of what must be remembered are the vows — and not, say, the recipe for the wedding cake. But even the cake is doing its part in helping us remember. We remember the memorable — but we don’t do that for the sake of the isolated actions themselves.
Consider how many things are here to help us remember the vows that are being exchanged — the guest book tells us the names of those who witnessed the vows, the photographers help us freeze this moment in time so that we may remember it, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is right there to help you remember where you were when you made the vows, these words of exhortation have been written down so that you may find them again to remind you, and so on. This is a ceremony of remembrance.
Benjamin, my charge to you today is to remember what you have said and done here today. My charge to you is to remember your wife by remembering your vows to her. You are called to provide for her, as God enables, and you are called to make sure that every material blessing you bring into your house is received with gratitude, and sweet memories of the God who is being so kind to you. Remember your God by remembering your wife. Remember your wife by remembering your God. Do not despise the gifts that come to you—use them to remember.
Jessica, my exhortation to you is to be and become a woman of memories. Of course, you are called to remember your God, and your vows, and your husband in the same way that he is to remember you, but you have an additional charge as well. You are called to be memorable. You are the one being given here today. Benjamin is the one receiving the gift. You are a token of God’s love for your husband, and you are the greatest gift he will ever receive on this earth. He is receiving that gift here today. The way you remember this will affect how memorable it all is for him.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.