How to THRIVE in Your Wedding Vows Series - part 1
Disclaimer - Because of sin, there is serious dysfunction in some marriages today. This series does not mean to whitewash any problems inside of broken marriages. Instead, it is my desire to uncover the beauty of the vows thru a Biblical worldview and how they are meant to play out in a healthy marriage.
“Man and wife. Say man and wife!” the prince demands thru clenched teeth. The commotion outside the palace gate has reached a fevered pitch, and he does not want his forced marriage jeopardized. The priest does as instructed, skipping from the intro to the end pronouncing them "Man and wife."
The bride is dismayed. She’s married to the wrong man!
But, the prince forgot one small detail. By skipping the vows, the abducted bride never said, “I do.” She promised nothing to the prince that day. Therefore, when her one true love does “Have fun storming the castle gates!” the bride is free to marry him, her Westley.
This iconic wedding scene is from The Princess Bride, a ridiculously fun movie my man and I have loved from our dating days. As I was contemplating today’s post, the “man and wife” line kept coming back to me. There is much ado leading up to the wedding these days, that the vows seem like an add-on, a little inconvenience to hurry thru to get to the pronouncement “man and wife.”
What's so significant about saying, "I do?"
The vows are the very thing that ties a marriage together. Think of “I do” as the vow's super glue, nothing should pull it apart.
Interestingly, today’s vows date back to the covenants of ancient times. Covenants, or agreements, were a big deal back in the day. Remember God and Abraham (Genesis 15) and David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 20)?
Why this focus on covenant before diving into the individual statements?
1. God is faithful to us.
Our faith is dependent on believing that God keeps His promises. Therefore,
- When He declared, “Your sins are forgiven!”, they are forgiven. Gone! Psalm 103:12
- When He spoke, “I love you with an unfailing love.”, You are loved, no matter what. Forever! Jeremiah 31:3
- When He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He’s there, as promised. Hebrew 13:5
This list of how God is a covenant-keeping God goes on, showcasing the beauty that God cannot nor will not break His Word. He is constant. He IS covenant. Hebrews 6:17-19
2. I’m desperately human.
- I might be swelling with love for my man one day, but the next I’m ready to set him on a slow ship to Siberia.
- Human love tends to ebb and flow like the tides of the ocean, but covenant keeps me anchored, steady.
3. Covenant is constant.
- Covenant is what anchors my marriage against the storms of life.
- It is not about me feeling loving toward my man or if my man is lovable. It’s about “I do,” thru the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- It is a "Let’s take divorce out of the picture" mentality.
What is Covenant?
Covenant is a solemn and binding agreement meant to last a lifetime. Back in the day, when you entered a covenant, there were up to 9 parts of the ceremony. It was serious business! Today, we’ll highlight just 4 of them because it is too cool how they tie into contemporary vows!
1. The Statement of Agreement:
Then - Both parties knew the expectations up front and agreed to it.
Now - When we state our vows,
- to have and to hold,
- for better, for worse,
- for richer, for poorer,
- in sickness and in health,
- to love and to cherish,
- till death do us part,
we agree thru good times and bad times, I will stick by your side.
2. The Offering of an Animal:
Then - This offering would be the best one could afford. They would split the animal in two, and the two parties would walk between the two parts, symbolizing
- “I’m sacrificing my best to enter this covenant with you.”
as well as
- "May God do so to me [cut me in half] if I ever break this covenant with you and God!"1
Now - Today's sacrifice is when we declare "I do!" choosing our spouse over all others until death do we part.
3. The Belt Exchange:
Then - Belts were a necessary part of one's wardrobe as it held one’s clothing in place. Therefore, the exchanging of belts symbolized, “I support you.” “I’ve got your back.”
Now - With today's marriage vows, we promise, “I support you regardless of the season. I’ve got your back thru thick and thin.”
4. The Weapon Exchange:
Then - Whatever your weapon of choice was, sword or spear usually, you’d exchange it in the covenant ceremony, stating, “Your enemies are my enemies. We are not each other’s enemies.”
Now - Oh, my friend, we could have church right here! Think about it; when we state our vows, we’re saying, “_________, I’m on your team. I’ll fight by your side shoulder to shoulder, not against you.” A team mentality! Glory bumps!
How Do I Live with a Covenant Mindset?
If our covenant-keeping God desires for us to keep our covenants, then He will also give us the ability to keep those covenants. Embrace the truth of God keeping His covenant with you, enabling you to keep your covenant with your spouse.
My teaching pastor concluded his message one Sunday with a statement which ties in perfectly. He talked about persevering thru the weary. I like that. That’s what covenant does, it puts its shoulder to the obstacle and pushes thru the hard. It perseveres thru the weary. It storms the castle gates to rescue its one true love!
“I do take _________ to be my wedded husband,
“I do promise to have and to hold ____________, from this day forward.”
“I do pledge to stay with _________ for better, for worse.”
“I do vow to remain with ____________ for richer, for poorer.”
“I do commit to love __________ in sickness and in health.”
“I do covenant to love and to cherish (and to obey) ___________ till death do us part."
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, it is the marriage that sustains your love.” stated Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A man who makes a vow to the LORD
or makes a pledge under oath must never break it.
He must do exactly what he said he would do.
So, my friend, what part of your covenant are you weary in today? What part of your vows do you need to drop the anchor so that you can hold steady in this current storm? Have you bought the world’s lie that to stay true to your vows, you have to feel the love? Soften your heart to accept and live in God's vision for marriage and covenant, and thrive in His blessings and approval.
Heat up Your "to Have and to Hold" - Part 2
Winning Solution "for Better for Worse" - Part 3
Do Not Grow Weary "In Sickness and in Health" - Part 4
1. Family Life
2. Precept Austin
3. Revive Our Hearts
4. His Wondrous Works
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
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