The word I want to emphasize at this wedding is the word heritage. We have the privilege today of witnessing, not only the wedding of two individuals in Christ, but also the wedding of two distinct, but very complementary, heritages. I want to talk about the unique blessings that we are praying that God will bring out of this blessed union.
The two streams that are coming together here are the streams of covenant commitment, centuries of it, and evangelical warmth and application, three and four generations now. They are coming together in a distinct way—not to say the former has no warmth, or that the latter has had no notion of covenant. I am rather speaking here of varying cultural manifestations, which is a matter of emphasis. And in this wedding, I see only the strengthening of both heritages.
The Lord Jesus taught us that foundations are important in the building of houses. If you have no foundation, you cannot withstand the inevitable storms that come (Matt. 7:24). The way we build houses today, that foundation is provided by the footings, and by the concrete walls that we pour to rest on those footings. That is what covenant commitment is like. This is just the way it is. Covenant understanding won’t shift or budge on you. Straight lines, unyielding, cold, gray, covenant concrete. Every house needs that, and needs it underneath absolutely everything. This not unloving—it is the foundation of love. You can always take it as a fixed given that these are my people. The lines of the house are straight because the foundation lines are straight.
Evangelical warmth and experience is like carpet, and couches, and cushions, and pictures on the wall. This is what we need in the places where we live, what we need in all the things we deal with on a daily basis. This is what we see and deal with all the time, and this is what makes a home habitable. But there are other things down below, things out of sight, things that enable the house to stand at all.
What happens when we try to have one without other? Living in a house that is all concrete would be no fun—it would be living in a pillbox, or in a bunker. When that approach goes to seed, it becomes Spartan, austere, and cold—an “eat your spinach” approach to the faith. Raw duty swallows up everything.
But what happens if we try to go the other way? The results are every bit as bad. Who wants to try to make a reasonable life in the middle of a pile of cushions? Who wants to ward off the storms of life with a tea cozy? Who wants to hide from the wolf under the coffee table?
So covenant commitments alone are austere. Evangelical applications alone are sappy. Keep them together, as God designed, and the results are hard-headed and tender-hearted together, in the right proportions, in the right order, and in the right way.
Caleb, there was a lot said last night at the rehearsal dinner about what a worker you are, how competitive you are, and how stubborn you can be. You might anticipate that the job of the preacher man here is to urge you to unbend a little, to become less stubborn, to mellow out some. This is a most unfortunate tendency in our day, where the church appears to be on a search and destroy mission against any remaining masculinity that they find anywhere, in order to chastise it. Many in the church think that it is our duty to turn what few remaining men we have into “buttercups for Jesus.” I am actually going to take this in the opposite direction.
Sanctification for a man like you should consist of growing up into the right kind of stubborn, on the right issues, and in the right way. The wrong kind of stubborn is hard on a wife and family. The right kind of stubborn is hard for them, hard on their behalf. The transition should not be from stubborn to not stubborn, but rather from selfishly stubborn to selflessly stubborn.
Of course, Scripture tells us that the wisdom from above is easily entreated (Jas. 3:17). That means that you should be easy to approach, but the Bible also tells us the circumstances under which we should be that way. It also tells us when, in other circumstances, we are to be immovable, solid, hard, and uncompromising. You have the solemn responsibility to provide that cold covenant concrete down below that will keep your home stable and safe.
When you and Mallory first got together, in our portion of the family there was great rejoicing. Mallory, as you may have noticed, has a mind of her own, opinions and settled views of her own, and so she absolutely needs someone who wakes up in the morning already knowing what he thinks. Without decisive leadership, a woman like Mallory would be miserable. So here is the charge—always be sure that your pick-up truck can pull her trailer.
Mallory, I want to speak to you in another voice, a voice many of us are familiar with. As you know, your Grandpa Jim, my father, was at your cousin’s wedding last week in California, and broke his hip while there. He knows, as you do also, that only something like that, something like the manifest will of God, could keep him from being here at your wedding. But if anyone rolls with the will of God, he does. But when God speaks and directs us like this, we simply accept His will in it, thanking Him, and glorifying His purposes for all of it. One of those purposes appears to have been so that I might give you a condensed version of his wisdom.
You know his humor, how he does, and what he says, as he hugs his granddaughters and great-granddaughters. “Too much lovin’ makes little girls sick.” So here I am, channeling Grandpa Jim, with a series of exhortations. We all need them, all the time, but you particularly need them now at this moment.
Walk with God. Read your Bible until it falls apart, and then get another one. Better that your Bible fall apart than to have you fall apart. As you read, do what it says. Obedience is not a bad word. Do not dilute the passages you are reading to make obedience more palatable or more “reasonable.” If the Bible says not to do something, then don’t do it. Confess your sins, and make sure you do that as they occur. Keep short accounts, first with God, and then with your husband, and then with your children. Don’t ever try to be a married woman with a backlog of unconfessed sin. That’s no fun at all.
Do not be offended by your husband—it is as much a sin to carry an offense as it is to give an offense. When he needs it, forgive him. When you need it, seek it. Do not allow a root of resentment or bitterness to get in anywhere, in any direction, at any level. Nothing good has ever come from that, only defilement for many.
And last, as you receive them from God, give your husband babies. Make sure they are fat ones. Make sure they are read to, fed, washed, happy, cheerful, and obedient. Remember, obedience is not a bad word.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.