Volume. XXIV, No. 11
Sunday, 13 September 2009


Forget Not Your Wedding Vows


Introduction:

We have just witnessed the union of a beautiful couple in our church, which reminds me of similar exchange of wedding vows with my dear wife some nine years ago, which goes like this: “I take thee….to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honour, and cherish, \'til death do us part, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” The words contained in such wedding vows are certainly beautiful and elegant, and almost every Christian couple will exchange vows like this at their own holy matrimony. However, wedding vows are actually more than just vows, but a Covenant between the husband and the wife. Wedding vows are a promise, a contract, a profession of commitment between the husband and wife (Rom 1:31b, 32, 7:1-3; 1 Cor 7:10; Heb 13:4). It also signifies and portrays the beautiful mystical union established in an eternal and spiritual marriage Covenant (Jer 2:2, 3:14, 31:32; Is 54:5; Ezek 16:8, Ezek 23:4; 2 Cor 11:2) between Christ and His Bride, the Church (Eph 5:23,24; 1 Cor 11:2; Rev 19:7, 21:2, 9-10).  Practically speaking, the marriage vows also outline some of the quintessential elements and Biblical principles to help married couples to keep their marriage God glorifying and honouring. Thus, let us consider the words in the wedding vows in light of the Word of God and draw some biblical principles as to how we should regard and maintain a Christian marriage.  

We Must Realize that There is No ‘Perfect Marriage’:

Typical marriage vows begin with a line such as to have and to hold from this day forward for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. These words signify that a Christian couple is to live together as they begin a new chapter in their lives despite possible changing circumstances, whether they be emotional, financial or physical factors. Notice that it does not say, to live happily ever after,” like in the fairy tales. Nonetheless, God’s Word does promise that we can and should enjoy our marriage life by living joyfully with our spouse whether in riches or in poverty or in sickness or in health. As Eccl 9:9 says, Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity….” Nevertheless, the Scripture does not promise that there would ever be a perfect marriage. Why can’t there be a perfect marriage? The reason is simple — because there are no perfect people, for we are all imperfect and sinful human beings! 

With the aforementioned universal fact in mind, therefore it is crucial that every married couple learns to accept and tolerate each other’s differences and idiosyncrasies. Notwithstanding of this fact, our tendency is to pick on our spouse’s weaknesses and attempt to “change” him or her to be more “like” us. Yet, bear in mind that Christ had chosen His bride before the foundation of the world from every nation, kindred and tongue from all sorts of backgrounds despite our utter wickedness, sinfulness, unworthiness and undesirableness. Not only so, Christ has also loved His bride with an unconditional and everlasting love as prophet Jeremiah writes: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer 31:3). Along this analogy, since God has made each of us as a unique creature, imperfect as we may be, let every husband and wife learn to accept and tolerate his or her spouse’s difference and idiosyncrasies and start appreciating one another to keep the marriage healthy and strong.

We Must Love, Honour and Cherish Our Spouse:

The second part of the marriage vows goes like this, “…to love, honour, and cherish..” I believe this part of the vows gives us three ingredients to a happy marriage, namely to love, to honour and to cherish each other. What it is to love, to honour and to cherish a spouse in the context of marriage relationship? Let us consider each of these elements in a biblical perspective.

To Love Each Other

To love someone in the context of marriage means making sacrifices for the person, even till the point of giving his life for the spouse, and such noble love should be the foundation of a Christian marriage. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” The love of Christ mentioned in this verse speaks of Christ’s ultimate sacrificial love for the church – His death. This verse and other related passages (Eph 5:28; Gen 2:24, 24:67; 2 Sam 12:3; Pro 5:18-19; Col 3:19; 1 Pet 3:7) also command husbands to love their wife with the same Divine, Unconditional and Selfless Love of Christ. The NT Greek verb for “love” used in Ephesians 5:25 is agapate, and it is a present tense verb with an imperative mood. The present tense denotes that the husband is to love his wife continually throughout his marriage Covenant and the imperative mood indicates that this is not an option but a Biblical mandate for a husband to love his wife. Of course, such rendering of affection should be expected to be reciprocal, not just from the husbands. In short, a Christian couple is to love each other with Christ’s unconditional and selfless love as the Scripture mandates as the fundamental building block of Christian marriage. 

To Honour Each Other

To honor someone in the context of marriage means to give due respect to his spouse. Apostle Peter says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife….”(1 Pet 3:7). The NT Greek noun used in this verse is the word time and it denotes giving of honour which belongs or is shown to one by reason of rank and state of office which he holds. In a nutshell, a husband should render due honour to his wife by appreciating her as she is, and never taking her for granted. Conversely, a wife should also honour her husband as well by giving reverence to him. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Therefore, husbands and wives are to honour or respect or revere each other as commanded by the Lord as part of the marriage commitment.

To Cherish Each Other

To cherish someone in the context of marriage means to preserve and maintain the marriage relationship with great care as with anything highly precious or valuable to him which requires maintenance. Someone aptly said, “Even if marriage is made in heaven, it does not mean man is not responsible for its maintenance.” Pro 5:18 says, “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. This expression to rejoice with the wife of thy youth implies cherishing and maintaining the marriage relationship in joy, which may include healthy communication. It is hard to imagine a husband who dwells in joy with his wife who does not communicate with her. A marriage relationship cannot be properly maintained with poor communication. For a couple whose marriage relationship is poor due to bad communication, this will inevitably affect their relationship and communication with God. 1 Pet 3:7 “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…that your prayers be not hindered.” Thus, married couples are to make sure that they maintain their marriage relationship with healthy communication.

We Must Invite Christ into Our Marriage Relationship

The last part of the marriage vows is a command given to a married couple to invite Christ into our marriage relationship, as it states, “til death do us part, and thereto I plight thee my troth [or my faithfulness].” This vow is also the commitment that should be forever engraved in the hearts of each Christian couple until the day their Marriage Covenant is disannulled, that is until death.

Many Christian couples love to use Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 to be printed on their wedding invitation cards which says, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow…” The question is: Why are two better than one? The following verse explains: “Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?” The spiritual principle behind this passage is this. When two people work together as a team, they can almost always be more productive. One can always uphold or support the other person just like Joshua to Moses (Exo 17:9-14, 24:13, 32:17, Num 11:28) or the unnamed armour bearer to Jonathan (1 Sam 14:1-15) or even the “evangelistic teams” of two sent out by our Lord (Mark 6:7).

To apply the above biblical principle in the context of marriage or any earthly relationship, this implies that two individuals are able to provide support and assistance to each other in their daily lives or ministry. How is this so? The writer of Ecclesiastes explains in verse 12, And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Notice the last part of verse 12  which says, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Why does the writer say, a “threefold” cord is not easily broken rather than a “twofold” cord? If the two “cords” represents two individuals, that is a man and a woman, in a marriage relationship, why is there a third cord? Isn’t a marriage relationship just a union between two people? Yes, it is true that only one man and one woman are to be united in the marriage. However, may I suggest that it takes another Person to make the marriage spiritually fuller and perfect; that Person is Lord Jesus Christ. When a couple pledges their troth before Christ, they are in fact asking Christ to be their Divine Witness of their marriage Covenant and also to invite Christ into their marriage relationship. A marriage which established in such a manner enables the marriage relationship to grow stronger, deeper and fuller as the days and years go by like a threefold cord that would not be easily broken. Therefore, a Christian couple is to invite Christ into their marriage relationship, and only when Christ is the Divine Third Party that binds and strengthens a covenant marriage, the union of the two persons can be indeed better than one!

In Conclusion:

If you are still courting with someone in the Lord and intend to get married, which it ought to be the goal, I urge you to begin or continue your relationship first and foremost by inviting Christ into your relationship if you have not done so. If you are already married, it is crucial that you recommit your marriage if necessary, by inviting Christ as the Divine Third Party into your marriage relationship to keep your marriage spiritually healthy in order to enjoy a blissful marriage by loving, honoring and cherishing one another in Christ Jesus until the end of your earthly journey.

Ps Weng


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements

Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Sis Bernadette Ng

Next Lord’s Day Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Bro Phil Surman

Wedding Congratulations: Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan

Please note: The Farewell Gathering for Ps & Sis Ki  will start 4:30 pm sharp.

No Chinese Ministry & Neighbourhood Bible Study meetings next Sat.

Parents invited to look at the new Sunday School Curriculum from 2010 in the Nursery room for the next three Sundays.

 

Looking Ahead

Christmas Concert: Sat, 5 Dec 2009

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Ps & Sis Ki (Melb/Adl); Dn Mark Heah; Bro Winston & Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam; Bro Lawrence & Sis Linda Tan; family members, relatives & friends of Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan (Adl); Bro Raphael  Ng (Pt Aug/Adl) & all others who arrived safely at their destinations.

Church activities: BBK Class; Reformed H&A Class; Choir Practice/Rehearsals; & Ladies’ Fellowship.

God’s blessing: Wedding of Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan.

Daily mercies, protection, and guidance.

 

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi, Elton Law, Alan Marion, Len & Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Fred Volvricht & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; Mrs Win Hooper; & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia (Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry, Phnom Penh); Hopefuls in S’pore; Teo family (Kuching).

Special Prayer: Bro Surish Dharmalingam - family & ministry in Vientiane (Laos) & Siem Pang (Cambodia).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim.

IBPFM (USA) - For missionaries & funds

Pastor Weng & family & ministry.

Journey mercies: Ps David & Sis Susan Weng & Lizzie (Melb/Canb/Adl); Dn Mark & Sis Helen Heah & family, Bro Lawrence & Sis Linda Tan & family; Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan, & their family members, relatives & other wedding guests to overseas & interstate locations; Bro Raphael Ng (Pt Aug/Adl).

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Tabitha Heah, Judy Li & Corinne Teng.

God’s guidance: Ps Ki’s UK visa application.

God’s comfort, strength, guidance & care: Sisters Kathleen Creaser & Margaret Hooper.

Australian B-P Churches - for unity of doctrine & fellowship.

Bro Jason Tan & Sis Tabitha Heah - God’s guidance in their new life together.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063