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How to Live Up to Your Wedding Vows When Things Go Bad

keep your vows

On your wedding day you stand before family and friends and recite those famous wedding vows, pledging your love “for better or worse.” In essence, on the most romantic day of your life, you’re saying, “This could go bad.” But at the same time you’re promising to keep your vows and not to go anywhere if it does.

Matt Chandler, pastor of Village Church and president of the Acts 29 Network, told listeners to the ChurchLeaders podcast that the need to keep your vows is the reality of marriage that he wishes more people understood.

What It Means to Keep Your Vows

Chandler put that reality into context. He said when you promise to keep your vows at a wedding, you are telling God and those in attendance, “One of us could get sick, really sick with cancer, and I’m staying if that happens. And we could be broke, we could be sharing Ramen noodles and Dr. Thunder for the next 20 years, and I’m doing that with you.”

He calls that a covenant promise as opposed to a contractual arrangement that is dependent on one party’s happiness. That’s counterintuitive to today’s understanding of love that he calls “emotive and cupidian.”

Chandler encourages pastors to help clear up the confusion about dating and even the early years of marriage saying, “The culture lied to them about how to walk in the fullest possible life in relation to others.”

He called on church leaders to present a plan that is far more lovely than the world’s plan and the good news that God’s grace covers where we have fallen short.

Young people today are walking a difficult line. On one hand, the world is selling the idea that selfish love is most fulfilling and is all about emotions. On the other, the church is shaming those who fall short of God’s design.

“I want to, as often as I can, tell people that the Bible is grimy and those who are God’s brightest lights are those who make sinners in the congregation feel like they are junior varsity.”

Chandler recommends courtship to a generation frustrated with the dating culture.

The natural tendency of males seeking to conquer and females out to capture has Christian singles in a foggy confusion. They aren’t sure how to date in a way that honors the Lord and values the soul of another person.

He believes courtship is getting to know someone until the rose-colored glasses are removed. At that point, Chandler says, you see that little bit of crazy in the other person but say, “I’m not going anywhere.” The Hebrews called it the “love of the will.” It is then that the discussion can turn to future goals and big issues.

He believes that courtship allows godly men to pursue godly women in friendship in hopes that it grows into something more.

And then comes marriage with its own set of challenges. Chandler told the story of his own struggles in marriage in the first four years.