Saturday I got to go to/be in another wedding. It was absolutely brilliant and I enjoyed every second of it. Good friends getting married is always good fun in my book! 🙂
I get to go to a lot of weddings. I realize as I tell my friends I am going to yet another wedding that this is odd for many people. The vast quantity of weddings I attend is odd, the amount of people I know who get married verses maybe a much lesser amount that other people know who are getting married is odd to people. As well – the age of the people.. often early twenties (though this wedding was not.. they were both in their thirties) comes across as odd to many of my friends in a country where many people delay marriage til their thirties or don’t get married or live together first for a long time before getting married. All but maybe 1 or 2 of the close to 100 weddings I have been invited to they have not lived together til after they got married. I have not had many friends get married who aren’t Christians yet!
Part of being a wedding junkie connoisseur of sorts is the fact that I might likely be a personality out of the book The Tipping Point and the sheer volume of friends and acquaintances I have is vastly larger than most. Secondly I am a Christian which means I know a lot of other Christians and Christians as a rule like marriage and get married; and often younger then the country average. (And yes as my friends who are not Christians like to point out it’s because of sex** in a way. It’s true, but I’ll come back to that and help dispel some caricatures in a bit).
This wedding, like so many others I have been to, was so joyous. The bride and groom were radiant and they had waited for the day for a long time. Well.. a short engagement.. but still… a long time before their wedding day. What I love about Christian marriage is it is less about a day then it is about a life time ahead. Maybe that is a funny thing to say but I can explain. Our culture, if people marry, puts a lot of pressure on a day.. making the perfect day… how much money you spend on a day.. the pressure of pleasing a lot of family for a day. Sometimes the sheer cost and overwhelming pressure on the day is what puts people off to delay marriage. “We can’t afford it yet.” Little do they know about my burrito theory of marriage.. 🙂 Baby.. who care’s about money! I will give everyone a burrito.. they are cheap! ha. But in Christian marriage.. the day is just a day to start a life time commitment.
Someday I long to bind myself to someone in that way. I commit to you before I commit my body, before I commit my finances, before I commit our future children.. I commit that I’ll be yours and will commit to working it through.. the hard times, the good times, the thousand times need for forgiveness and reconciliation.. the promise first and everything else second. The promise first means that when it gets hard.. we keep going.. because we are in this and don’t need to fear being rejected for our sin.. we will work through that and deal with our mess and our sin and come to God in humility needing to be changed by Him. It means sex is freer because you have a life time to work on it and aren’t committing your body and wondering if the person will reject you in the morning.
**On that note.. Sex: the caricature I wanted to bust up is this: Christians are Christians because they have come to know Jesus as Saviour and Lord. They have been forgiven muchly by God and know Him. It doesn’t mean they have grown up in a Christian family – most I know have not.. It doesn’t mean they have a squeaky clean past. None of us do even if we came to faith at a young age. If we were clean and perfect we would not need a Saviour. It means God has forgiven you because you have trusted in His means of forgiveness.. Jesus who died and rose from the dead to offer it to us. So on that note.. Christians are willing to get married younger and sometimes the factor that they are not sleeping together before they get married is a motivation. <<>> But of these Christians who get married.. some have a very messy pasts sexually.. and Jesus has offered them forgiveness and they want to go into their marriage waiting.. even a few months to trust him that sex is for the context of marriage alone.. even if that is a new belief for them.. because Jesus changes our thoughts on things. Some have waited and not had sex until they were married.. this is not because they are prudish or have some rule to keep (though maybe for some who don’t get just how GOOD God is it’s a rule.. but they need to get out of that thinking!). It’s because God is good and marriage is good and sex is good. Really. That is the answer. Waiting has to do with trusting God that Him giving us a context for sex.. in marriage.. is good. Because God created us, loves us and wants good for us. I have seen a lot of heartbreak around me in regard to sex. It makes me think.. if we were committed to someone wholeheartedly in marriage before we committed our bodies to them.. would the world see the faithfulness, the hope, the security- the knowledge we are free and won’t be left and abandoned based on sexual performance, the knowledge we are loved enough to be committed to in every aspect and not just sexually.. that God means for us to understand through sex in marriage? I have a lot more to say on that subject but that is a start. The story I will tell below will explain a bit more about the bigness of it all**
We are the broken generation. 50% divorce rates and higher amongst those who have divorced once before have left my people.. my age.. and younger.. jaded. Fearful. Is a marriage certificate a piece of paper that leads to a harder amount of heartache when the relationship fizzles?? (note I say “when”and not “if”.. how many of my people feel like that?) We are the generation that has seen the failed marriages of so many if not our own parents then close friends parents and so many others. Now the order seems.. date, sleep together, live together, buy a house together, have a baby or two together and possibly possibly someday marry. But maybe not.
When we look at the fear, the insecurity, the parental fights, the divorce fights, the heartache.. it doesn’t surprise me. The concept of marriage has been marred and so many of our generation just don’t see the point any more.
Yet.. I have hope. I have something in my soul that wants to live counter cultural and as odd as it seems to our people.. it brings me such joy even in the middle of my own fears.. joy in a future something an unknown something.. a hope in something I have never experienced or realized yet in my life in real life.. that I have to tell you about it. It’s so odd of a fairy tale it has to be real.. I mean it is real.
A true story…
There was a man named Hosea. Hosea lived a long time ago and he knew God and loved God and God loved him very much. God also loved Hosea’s people but Hosea’s people were not like Hosea and they had rejected God and all that God had offered them.. to be his people, to be in a friendship with him, to be in an unbreakable promised relationship where they were His and He was theirs. They did wicked things and ignored God’s law that was there to protect them. They misrepresented God to the nations around them and led other people to do evil things and ignore the God who is there. So God asked Hosea to do something unthinkable. He asked Hosea to marry a woman who he said would be unfaithful to him. She would sleep with other men and have children by other men. And then God asked him to pursue his wife and love her unconditionally for this was how God felt when his people prostituted themselves and were unfaithful to him, when they ignored his laws and broke the relationship: the covenant – this promised deep binding relationship of faithfulness, but that unlike their unfaithfulness.. he would remain faithful and He would pursue them and love them.
Can you imagine what Hosea thought in all of this…?? Okay God.. you want me to marry her.. and she will be unfaithful and my heart will be broken and theennnnn I am to pursue her anyways and LOVE her UNCONDITIONALLY?! Whaaa?!?
But for some strange reason.. and I think it comes down to.. Hosea knew the Lord.. he knew the Lord and loved Him and knew the Lord was good and that God loved him very much. He did it.. and his whole life and marriage was an example to an unfaithful people of the faithfulness of God at pursuing us when we are at our worst. There is a Hebrew word used throughout this book in the Old Testament.. it is spelt out Hesed in English.. it is a big word. It is the OT word for “grace”- unmerited favour.. but has so much more than even that wrapped up in the word.. God’s hesed love.. his “covenant, unbreakable, pursuing, gracious, loving-kindness love” the kinda love that we dream of and imagine and none of us seems to believe is real any more. If I had a tattoo I would definitely get that marked on me..
And so as with my friends this weekend I was happy and joyful for the days ahead that they have committed themselves to. An unbreakable loving kindness love. They will need a lot of help. We all do. I mean. We are not stupid. We are the generation of marred relationships after all. What gives my friends hope even though they realized constantly the weightiness of what they were entering into.. so much unknown.. so many changes and a commitment to a lifetime of working through hard things.. it is no longer all about me.. “my selfishness must die to be about us instead of me”.. is they are not alone. It is what gives me hope someday that if God should provide me with a husband who would want to lead me, pursue me and commit himself to me and me to him that both they and me and mystery man would have the help of the Lord of hesed love. In a different book in the Old Testament He promised his people that one day he would put his Spirit in them and that he would be changing their hearts. That was fulfilled after Jesus rose from the dead when he sent his Holy Spirit to come and live in the lives of those who have trusted in Him for forgiveness. My hope for marriage in the future is not that I would meet a guy who would never hurt me. Or that I would be a perfect wife, but that I would commit myself to a man who is being changed by God’s Holy Spirit and I would be changed by God’s Holy Spirit because I have known His forgiveness. Together, God would be changing us to be more like Him. He would be bringing us humility, the ability to forgive and to say we are sorry and fruit in character traits that seem out of this world.. because they are… apart from His help. And that, as the best man put up in a diagram in his speech at the wedding.. as we grow closer to the Lord.. we’d grow closer to one another..
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)