As a pastor I have the privilege of performing all kinds of weddings for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. This afternoon Heather and I sat at a reception table watching all the first dances, and a few things began to dawn on me. A wedding – the formal act of a man and woman dedicating themselves to each other – in whatever form it happens has been common among humans across all cultures since the dawn of, well, humanity. It brings families from every possible background together in the same room as they celebrate the union of two lives.
Weddings build new things while extending the reach of the oldest things. A new family is made while the deep roots of old families push life into new limbs.
Weddings represent, maybe more often than we know, the hope of reclamation. Where the past has been imperfect, maybe deeply imperfect, there is the real chance of something healthy and stable being built. If the new home continues the dysfunction of the old ones, hope waits one more generation. Where the new home is dedicated to ways that build souls and love God, the cycle of pain can be broken.
Weddings are inescapably between a man and a woman. The two getting married came from the union of two other sets of men and women and they will likely build their family in the way their natures determine. Every other option available to us is either a technological marvel or a societal novelty, but they all are thin shadows of how humans have built families for millennia. None of them replace the nature God has given us all.
Research and, more importantly, theology and history are on the side of men and women getting married and building families. Children need moms and dads. Men need women and women need men. Kids thrive with grandparents. Families can be beautiful for their sheer expanse and life shaping in their extended intimacy.
Those who seek to expand and change the definition of marriage are in the smallest minority possible. They not only find themselves in the minority now, they find themselves swimming against the tide of all human experience. All their ancestors are against them. Every example against man and woman marriage is the epitome of the anecdote – it only proves how universal the rule is.
And most importantly weddings are how God shows his absolute joy in humanity. He began the institution. Jesus made really good wine at one. It predates every other human organization and is thus more important than them all. It is how God encourages us to make more of us, and in this he delights. God loves that new human smell.
God created us to not only be together, but to be together for the expanse of our earthly lives. In that commitment we find stability, hope, and joy. Sexual promiscuity is soul soiling. One of the great testimonies one human can leave to another is life-long commitment to their spouse through all kinds of thick and thin.
And in them God is able to show how his love for us works. There is emotion, heart-felt connection and even romance. But over the long run there is love. This love is truly what love is. You can tell who and what you love by what you have committed yourself to over the long-haul. You can tell by your sacrifices. You can tell by why you endure what you endure. This is often myself, but it can be, and ought to be, the one you married. And when there is this kind of love we begin to glimpse the love God has for people he created. People he adores and put his image in. People he sent his Son to live among and die for. Broken people he reaches out to over and over.
Weddings bear the promise of God’s love among us.