This is a wedding with two central purposes. Most weddings are focused on just one central thing, which is obviously the exchange of vows, and the consequent establishment of a marriage covenant. That is second of our purposes here today, and we will certainly get to that.
But the first thing we want to do is honor two of the Lord’s faithful servants, who have gone before us, and who are now in glory with Him—Nancy Lea Rust and Robert Frederick Beck. And in order to honor them properly, we have to consider what Scripture teaches about the nature of marriage.
The Lord Jesus taught us that there will be no marriage in the resurrection. Marriage has eternal ramifications, but it does so without being an eternal institution. When the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, tried to stump the Lord with a convoluted trick question, He told them that they were mistaken because they did not know the Scriptures or the power of God (Matt. 22:25-32). They did not know their Bibles—or their God.
Jesus told them that in the resurrection, we neither marry nor are given in marriage, but “are as the angels of God in heaven.” The Lord is very plain that marriage is an earthly ordinance and blessing. Marriage, as we know it, is limited to our time here.
But there is a tendency toward unbelief that can be seen in this. We hear something like this, and immediately assume that Heaven must therefore be a downgrade from what we have here—like being kicked out of first class and back into coach.
But none of this will be accomplished by means of any kind of downgrade. Imagine a couple who were happily married for fifty years down here, and then a century or two after the resurrection, they bump into each other on some golden street or other. Will one of them say, “Oh, hi. It’s you.” Of course not. Nothing like that.
Every good relationship here will be a thousand times better in the resurrection. And there is something that I want to repeat a few times in this homily, which is that no good thing is ever ultimately lost. The apostle Paul tells us that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). And reasoning by analogy, our highest joys will also not be worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. But even though these highest earthly delights will not be worth comparing to our coming resurrection glory, they are that resurrection glory in seed form.
This is why, in his great chapter on the resurrection, Paul is able to tell us that our labor here in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). The many faithful years that Marc and Nancy had together, and the many faithful years that Rob and Kitty had together, and the faithful years that Marc and Kitty will have together, will all make a unique contribution to the bloom of glory that is coming. Nothing will detract.
This glory will not be what we understand as marriage—otherwise the Sadducean question would stand—but we do know that it will be glorious, more than glorious. And why? Because we know that God is a giver of glorious gifts, and because His nature is unchanged and unchanging. And whatever that nature is, it is not stingy or tightfisted. No good thing will ever be finally lost.
So we know three basic things. First, we know that after a spouse has died, another marriage is certainly lawful. “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband” (Romans 7:2).
Second, if it is lawful, and the proprieties are observed, then a second marriage like this one is a means of glorifying God. And if it is glorifying God, then there is no possible way for it to dishonor the spouse who has already entered into the glory. The denotative meaning of the Lord’s saying is very clear, which is that marriage is temporal, and yet we know by faith that His meaning does not detract from what we experience in the blessing of marriage. What we experience in this life should be taken by us as a slight foretaste of what is coming.
This means that, in the resurrection, when Marc sees Nancy again, Kitty won’t be in the way. In the resurrection, when Kitty sees Rob again, Marc won’t be in the way. When they all see one another again, no one will be in the way. Not only will there be no marriage, there will also be no jealousy. Neither will there be any head-scratching, with people saying now what? There will be no complications. The Lord will have everything well-prepared (John 14:2), and we may be fully assured that He will have thought of everything.
The third point I want to emphasize will overlap with what I have to say to Marc and Kitty as they prepare to take their vows. Love alone is credible. Love alone is authentic. That means that what is happening here today—a manifestation of the love of God—is an addition, a multiplication, not a subtraction, not a division. In the economy of God, no good thing is ever lost, and this wedding today is happening right in the middle of the economy of God. This is part of His purpose and plan. We can confess this in faith because we are Christians who affirm the resurrection of the dead.
Marc, you know what it is to sacrifice yourself for a woman, and you have demonstrated your obedient spirit in this matter over many years. You have been a good and dedicated husband. You are not done. There will be changes and things to learn, but the root of the matter is still the same—always imitate Christ and His way with the church. This pleases God. And always remember that nothing should matter more to you than pleasing God.
Kitty, you know what it means to respect and honor a man, over the course of many years. You have been a good and dedicated wife. Neither are you done. There will be challenges and new things to adapt to, but the root of the matter is still the same for you also. With love at the heart of it, imitate the church in her respect for the Lord. This pleases God, and always remember that nothing should matter more to you than pleasing God.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.