Scott and Kristen

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If a marriage can be compared to a house, then a wedding can be compared to the front doorway of that same house. Because this is such a joyful time for all, it is not surprising that our custom is to have a good time decorating this doorway. Hence the ceremony, the bride’s dress, the ritual that we perform when we witness the exchange of vows, and so forth. But the fact that this ceremony is decorative does not mean that it is merely decorative.

Scott and Kristen, because you are both followers of Christ, it is obvious that you want your house — your marriage — to be Christian. This shows up in some of the ways you have prepared and planned this wedding. We have prayed in Jesus’ name, I am going to be exhorting you from the Scriptures, and so on. Such words are very important, but I want to speak today on the importance of the life that undergirds all such words. Jesus did not say that they will know we are Christians because we talk so much, but rather that they will know we are His followers by our love. What might that mean?

A marriage that is genuinely Christian, and not just God-talk Christian, is a thoroughly counter-cultural reality. Words can explain why and how it is counter-cultural, but it is obviously different in the eyes of onlookers long before any words are spoken. What I mean is this — your marriage, the way you live together, the way you treat one another, the aroma of love and respect that will permeate your home, may well be the only Christian book that such outside observers ever read. The apostle Paul says that a Christian marriage is a declaration of the gospel — and it is a very powerful one. It is not a book in the traditional sense, but it is a book that can certainly be read.

There are countless examples of how this can show up, so let me limit myself just to one. The first two times the phrase “father and mother” shows up in the Bible are in the creation account (Gen. 2:24), and in the fifth of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12). In the former, it is said that a man should leave his father and mother, and in the second that he should continue to honor his father and mother. With the necessary adjustments made, the same thing applies to the woman — given in marriage, she still honors her father and mother. On top of this, Jesus plainly teaches that honoring parents is a responsibility that adult children continue to have (Mk. 7:10-13), and the apostle Paul makes a point of emphasizing that this command is directly connected to living under the blessing of God in your marriage (Eph. 6:1-4).

So how does this all come together? In this ceremony, you are symbolically doing both of these things together. You are leaving your parents, and you are honoring them, and you are doing this simultaneously. This is all designed by God; it is supposed to work this way. This pattern we are following is a delight to God, and of course it should delight us. This pattern we are setting at the decorated doorway is one that should be continued throughout the house, throughout the rest of your lives.

But how can this be counter-cultural? We live in a day when not honoring is frequently linked with not leaving. You are leaving and honoring both. How does this work? In a time when levels of dependency are going up and levels of honor are going down, you are summoned to do the exact opposite — establishing your own way in the world while the honor you show to your parents increases. As you live this way, remember that it is a command with a promise — God will enable you to establish your household at the same time you honor the households from which you came. So the leaving here is the leaving that establishes a new household before God. You are leaving the households of your parents; you are not disappearing from their lives — rather, you and the children God gives you will become one of the chief ornaments of their lives (Prov. 17:6).

But in order to do this, Scott and Kristin, you will need to do this together. You cannot export to your families what you do not have together, and in order to have it you must relate to one another in the currency God has given to you respectively. That will be the currencies of love and respect. Men naturally deal in the currency of respect, and women naturally deal in the currency of love. These do transfer readily, but only if both of you know that Scripture is the only place you can go for an honest take on what the currency exchange rate is. Scripture will teach you how to treat one another.

Scott, you are called to embody the sacrificial aspect of the gospel. Jesus loved us with a love that knows how to bleed, and husbands are called to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church. This is a set of marching orders that should make you stagger. But if, as you stagger, you cry out for the grace of God, He will enable you to keep the promises you are making here today. It is all grace, from first to last.

And Kristen, you are called to embody the response to the gospel that the church represents. The apostle Paul calls wives to honor their husbands as the church does to Christ. If Scott is grace, then you are faith. Scott offers in love, and you respond in love. As with every form of reciprocity, there is something identical to what Scott is doing in how you respond. There is something identical in all your responses (he loves and you love, he respects and you respect), and yet it is also something totally distinct (he loves and you respect).

Scott and Kristen, godly reciprocity makes it possible for you to be totally different—male and female, masculine and feminine—and yet completely one.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.

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