Volume 9, Issue 3: Femina
A Beautiful Doorway
Although our culture holds the state of faithful marriage as a thing despised, it still nods in approval at the wedding festivities. Flowers and champagne and fluffy flower-girl dresses and toasts and limos and honeymoon suites are all very much in style. Thoughts of a bride still conjure up beautiful images of sweet innocence and that much-coveted state of being in love.
The world's wedding industry has much to say about what kind of wedding to have and how much a typical wedding should cost, but very little of substance to say about what a wedding really is. This is why Christian moms and brides need to learn to think of weddings from a truly Christian perspective. (Of course it is obvious that Christian dads and grooms must think Chistianly about weddings, but this column isn't for them.) After all, Christians more than all people should understand what a wedding is all about. We understand covenantal headship and the blessing of marriage and children. Surely we should have the best sort of weddings, weddings far different from those of the unbelievers. That means Christian weddings should be real celebrations, not boring, meaningless rituals presided over by disinterested officials and attended by duty-bound friends who would rather be fishing.
Christians must learn and rejoice in the biblical significance of a wedding. Otherwise, our children might as well just elope and skip all the hoopla and save Mom and Dad a lot of time, money, and trouble. If we don't understand, then what's the use of all the planning and expense for a twenty to thirty-minute ceremony? Instead of taking signals from the modern wedding industry, Christians need to examine each aspect of the wedding from a biblical standpoint. We need to ask ourselves some very pointed questions about why we are doing this. For just one example, why is Dad walking his daughter down the aisle? In most American weddings, this aspect is assumed but not understood. Christians know that Dad is giving his daughter away. This is in many ways the most significant part of the wedding ceremony. Who gives this woman to this man? The father has assumed responsibility for his daughter as she has grown up in his household, and now he is giving her to her new head, her husband, who will now assume this responsibility for her protection. Christians should not follow cultural traditions blindly, but many of these wedding traditions have biblical foundations.
Before getting into the actual wedding planning, a biblical perspective on the ceremony is absolutely necessary. One of the first things that should be obvious is that the wedding is the entrance into the marriage. The wedding ceremony is not an end in itself. In fact, marriage is not an end in itself. Marriage is a means of serving and glorifying God. Young women who view marriage as their chief goal are turning the wedding and the married state into an idol. God planned for marriage to be a blessed state of mutual service to Him. But that's another column. The wedding is a beautifully decorated doorway into a house. The substance is found beyond the doorway in the house, which is the marriage relationship of husband and wife. Keeping this simple but important distinction is a protection from becoming too distracted by the doorway. The doorway should be beautiful, but, unfortunately, sometimes the relationship suffers during wrangles over cummerbund colors and guest lists. Our Lord graced a wedding at Cana with His presence; we want Him to be present at ours!
Another important consideration in wedding planning is the role of the bride and groom and parents: the bride and groom are the guests of honor at a big bash thrown by the bride's parents. Whoever is paying for this event is the one who decides what is going to happen. In other words, the bride and groom should defer to the bride's parents when it comes to wedding decisions. (Of course, if the bridal couple is paying for the wedding, this is not the case.) In the best situation, the parents will also be eager to defer to the couple. But the mindset of both bride and groom should be, Mom and Dad, what kind of wedding do you want to give us? This attitude prevents resentments, hurt feelings, and a host of other problems. Little temper tantrums can escalate into long-term difficulties. Most couples today assume that they can make all the decisions and paying for it all is Dad's problem. This is not honoring father and mother. A wedding is a wonderful opportunity for children to honor and obey their parents as they leave to establish households of their own. A wedding should be God-honoring and parent-honoring, not a tense time of friction and unhappiness!
The world seeks to tempt us into wanting the perfect wedding unlike any other wedding in history. This temptation leads to a desire to outdo all our friends. Many think that their wedding (or their daughter's wedding) will have the best bridesmaids' dresses, the most unusual ceremony, the biggest party, the prettiest music, etc. This is nothing less than pride and covetousness. This is viewing the wedding as a spectacle, not as a celebration around a covenant. The focus should not be on impressing our friends, but on honoring Christ and celebrating a joyous occasion with our friends and family. We should want everyone to have a wonderful time, not be impressed with our excellent taste.
As Christians prepare and plan for weddings, we must think like Christians. We must focus on God, the Creator of marriage, and honor Him in all our planning and celebrating, remembering how He has honored us with marriage as a picture of Christ and the church.