Last week, I had the honour and privilege of attending the wedding of two amazing individuals, Peter (Mahaffey) and Gracie (Villanueva). I have been to a lot of weddings but this wedding definitely stood out. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding before where God was the underlying theme of the whole ceremony to begin with. I have been to Christian weddings before but there was something different about this one. Sometimes, I feel like God becomes a tag line in a wedding ceremony. The whole event is centered on the bride and groom and if God makes an appearance, it’s a brief cameo to bless their union. This time around, it seems that the event was built around the theme of God’s love instead of the love of the bride and groom. As a Christian, it was quite jarring and convicting. So this is what it looks like to have God be the center of a marriage, I found myself thinking.
During the speech, Gracie’s mom said something to the effect that their prayer that day was for God to be glorified during the wedding. I think I’m more used to prayers about how God should bless the couple’s lives rather than prayers that God would be honoured. It was one of those “really?!?” moments. While the sentiment expressed isn’t exactly revolutionary, I guess what surprised me was that she actually meant it. She really wanted the focus to be on God and not on the bride and groom. I think that really shocked me since I haven’t seen it before. During the numerous speeches, the one common thing was their constant reference to God’s love and God’s hand in bringing these two people together. It was so God-centered, I was quite taken aback.
I think that’s the one thing that people forget about marriage. Marriage is the most intimate picture we have of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Church. In the Old Testament, God’s relationship to Israel was often framed within a marriage context. Marriage is a beautiful picture of the divine love God has with His people. Throughout the Scriptures, we see a God who pursues His bride relentlessly. Even when the bride strays and becomes unfaithful to Him, still God woos her back to Himself. It is a picture of constant patience, grace, mercy, compassion and love to someone who, in fact, does not deserve a single ounce of any of these attributes. Even when the Brides gives the Groom a reason to leave because of her imperfections, the Groom not only stays faithful to her, but also goes out of His way to redeem the broken relationship. What a beautiful picture of heaven on earth!
What is marriage if not another way of presenting the gospel to the world? It is a proclamation of the good news that Christ brought to our world. It brings a man and a woman together while boldly challenging our individualistic culture and loudly proclaims that they are more than ok to be seen as one in the sight of men and God. It is another visible reminder that a proper marriage must properly have God in the center. It is a tangible expression of God’s love as expressed on earth.
To Peter and Gracie, I hope and pray that you would continue to walk in the ways of the Lord your God. Continue to esteem each other better than yourselves. May you daily submit your bodies and your lives wholly and completely to the wonderful and compassionate God who created you and brought you two together in His love and grace. It was an honour to be a witness to your beautiful union.