Josiah and Noelle

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The Scripture plainly teaches that woman is the glory of man, and in a similar way, so also one of the glories of the Christian faith has been the way in which we have embraced this truth, and established it as one of our glories. It is a simple historical fact that as the Christian gospel has flourished throughout the world, the position of women has risen to a place of true honor. When men are left to themselves, apart from Christ, this is not the way that it goes.

This honor has meant that over the centuries the church has been adorned with the glory of true femininity, and this has nothing in common with the usurpations of feminism. When walking in obedience, the church honors women as women, and the honor is something that inspires our women to grow up into the sort of graciousness that we find in the Word.

We should never forget that in the wisdom literature of Scripture, wisdom herself is personified as a woman. And she even goes so far as to say that all who hate her, love death. The death wish that currently has our culture by the throat is a death wish that is rooted in a contempt for true femininity. Now it is also true that in the book of Proverbs, Folly is displayed as a woman also. But this is not hard for us to understand. Lady Wisdom and Dame Folly are set up in such a way as to enable us to compare them, and the contrast is truly instructive. It is not that folly is essentially feminine the same way that wisdom is. It more like the devil being the way he is because he fell from a great height.

Femininity under grace is altogether lovely, and feminism is the attempt to turn our glory into shame.

So Scripture inculcates a high view of women, which means that Christian wedding ceremonies should do the same thing. The Bible teaches us that the man is the image and glory of God, and that woman is the glory of man (1 Cor. 11:7). This is not the man getting the gold and the woman getting the silver medal. Look at what it is actually saying. Man is the glory of God, and woman is the glory of that. She is the glory of the glory. It is a superlative, like the holy of holies, or the song of songs. And few verses later, Paul even goes so far as to say that the woman’s hair is a glory and a covering (1 Cor. 11:15), alluding to Isaiah’s reference to the Shekinah glory in Isaiah 4:5. In the song we just finished singing a few moments ago there is a clear allusion to this wonderful truth—“for a glory and a covering, showing that the Lord is near.”

The psalmist seeks the blessing of God on the daughters of Israel, wanting them to be like polished and beautiful cornerstones of a palace (Ps. 144:12). And in the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us that a virtuous woman is to be prized, far above the value of rubies (Prov. 31:10). A prudent wife is from the Lord (Prov. 19:14). A virtuous woman is the crown of her husband (Prov. 12:4). As the crown is the glory of the king, so the woman is the glory of the man.

All of this is the background to the apostle Peter’s instructions to husbands. He tells men to dwell with their wives with understanding, according to knowledge, as it says (1 Pet. 3:7). This is the place where Peter says that women are the weaker vessel, and some foolish men have seized on that phrase (and some foolish women have resented it) as though marriage were a weightlifting competition, as though God cares who could bench press more. But this demonstrates that such folks do not understand the “with understanding” part. The apple of your eye is weaker than the thickest part of your forehead, and this is why it is something you take greater care to honor and protect. So as husbands read their instructions in that passage, it is crucial that they note the essential point of application—“giving honor unto the wife.” If it does not result in such honor, it did not begin with any sort of understanding.

And so, Josiah, here is my charge to you. You are getting married in an age that despises the high calling of women. You must not allow this widespread cultural disparagement to have any place in your thinking. You must be countercultural, and the best way for Christian husbands to be countercultural is by loving their wives in the way that Christ loved the church. Masculinity—the real thing, and not some machismo knock off—needs to be understood as the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility. The apostolic charge is straightforward. Love your wife as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her. You have come here today to give yourself up, and to seal it with an oath. You have come here today in order to give yourself over. Give yourself over to what? Under Christ, you are giving yourself over to honor this woman with all that you have. 

Noelle, here is my charge to you. As Josiah fulfills the charge just given to him, and he shows a biblical honor and deference to you, it is your task to remember that it is not vanity or conceit on your part for you simply to receive it. It is actually a profound form of humility to do so, and it is a humility that glorifies. God has established the marriage bond as a covenant bond, and covenants have terms. Not only so, but God Himself is one of the parties to this covenant, and He is here present with us, overseeing our declaration and stipulation of those terms. This means that as the husband is commanded to love and honor you, the flip side of this is that you are commanded to receive it, to graciously receive it, so that what is done here may be ordered by the Word of God. One of the fruits of this is that, as he loves you, you will flourish in that love. So here is the charge, in humility, flourish into an ever-increasing loveliness.

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