Binkley Chapel on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth for a wedding ceremony. This afternoon I will have the rare honor of officiating a wedding in Binkley. Two of our students –Michael and Christina–who mean a great deal to me are entering into this sacred covenant.
I love marriage. I love everything about it. Wedding ceremonies, not as much. I am a classic all-over-the-place, ADD kind of person. Wedding ceremonies allow little margin for error as they are inherently formal occasions. Speaking on a college campus like I did Thursday night allows a lot more room for improvising, audience analysis and adjustment, and creativity. So for me to officiate a wedding is a little like asking a cat to fetch.
But I am enjoying the role of officiating weddings much more these days. No doubt a big part of it is the fact that the weddings I do are for couples I love dearly and am so proud of. I love seeing young people who love Jesus learn to love one another and grow in the covenant of matrimony. It happens often around here, and is a reflection of the work of Christ in the gospel in people.
When you work with as many young adults as I do, you occasionally see things that make you sad, like the young person who “falls” in love with another, becomes a totally different person, confusing love with infatuation. But thankfully in my context that is the exception not the rule. Most I know center their relationship on Christ and welcome the input and admonition of others in their journey.
Marriage is a sacred covenant. It is more than a civil ceremony. This is why sexual relations before marriage, from a one time encounter to cohabitation, is so wrong. God has created us for intimacy, first with our Creator, and in marriage with one other person for life. Breaking that covenant before it is established is like choosing to be an idol-worshiper for a season before following Christ. The one place where sexual intimacy belongs according to Scripture is marriage. It marks the uniqueness and depth of this unique covenant.
And thus I now enjoy officiating weddings between couples who get the gospel and want to spend their lives living for Jesus. Today I will officiate the wedding of Michael and Christina. I had a role in recruiting them, he from South Carolina and she from Georgia. I have watched them grow, seen them learn, and rejoiced in the way they care for each other.
Marriage is more than an institution. Marriage is a covenant, a beautiful picture of the gospel. I always share the gospel at weddings, because the gospel so naturally flows out of such a ceremony and because you almost always have unbelievers at weddings. A wedding ceremony should in fact be a worship service exalting our great God who saw that it was “not good” for man to be alone.
Remember, marriage is God’s idea. It is the picture he uses for his relationship with the church.
The next time you go to a wedding, think about the glory of the gospel, how God reconciles us to himself so we can in turn be reconciled to each other. What a glorious testimony to his love.