I’m so excited and honored to welcome back Pastor Bruce Goldsmith, of Laurel Hill Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Va., to guest post on Classic Bride blog today as he continues to share valuable insight on creating a Godly marriage. Our hope is that this series will help couples in forming a beautiful and strong foundation for their marriage built on God’s love – you can read all the posts in this series here. And I’ll turn it over to Pastor Bruce now:
In June, one of my nephews is getting married. His marriage to his future wife has been in the works for a long time. And they have been so excited, as you can imagine. So much preparation and so much money and time and energy has been put into the day that will mark the moment when they will become husband and wife. And they have big plans for their honeymoon; they are planning to go to Ireland. He told my wife and me that they worked through a travel agent and have everything set.
But there is only one problem – the Coronavirus, COVID-19. What about that little detail? So, my wife asked my nephew about that. He said, “Yeah, about that …” Then he said, “Well, we realize that the trip may not happen, or at least not right now, so we are planning to get married and then do the trip later or wait as long as we can to see what happens.” We asked about the wedding. “The ceremony?” He said, “Well, we will probably just have a few people there, or no one at all, just us and the preacher and a small group of people to keep it from violating the social distancing law.”
As I processed all that, I began to think about the many, many couples who have been making plans for the biggest day of their lives, and the possibility of it not happening, or not happening in the way they dreamed and planned. It is a sad reality and a terrible predicament to be dealing with. So, what is a couple to do? You may not like my answer to that question and even think what I will say is a bit of a cop out. But the truth is, I can’t tell a couple what to do in a situation like this. I can give my opinion, but I can’t give someone the answer. But!!! I can give the answer God has, which is much more important.
Marriage is not about the ceremony as much as it is about the relationship between the couple and God. Ceremonies are different in every culture. In other words, God doesn’t give us a prescription on the ceremony and how it is to look or be conducted. There is nothing in the Bible about how a ceremony is to be done or what day or what hour, etc. The importance of the wedding ceremony is that it is never to be hidden. In other words, there is never to be a wedding where God is left out. He is the author of marriage. He began it. So, He should be the One who is the central focus. Everything about the wedding should point to Him and His saving grace. With that said, God can be the central focus even if there are only a few people in attendance. God is concerned with your heart and your relationship with Him more than He is concerned with the style and number of people and music and venue. Every couple needs to decide what or who is the most important guest at their wedding and who they believe needs to be there. That must be decided by everyone individually. But the most important guest should be Jesus. And He can and will be with the couple anywhere, anytime.
Let’s take a step back and talk a minute about marriage and what it is in the eyes of God. Marriage reflects or pictures Jesus and His relationship to His bride, the Church. The Bible tells us in John’s Gospel that Jesus is the Bridegroom or Groom of the church, John 3:29 (NASB) 29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.” Jesus is again referred to as the Bridegroom in Mark’s Gospel when there is a question about fasting. Mark 2:18-20 (NASB) 18 “John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they *came and *said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” And in the book of Ephesians, Jesus is seen as the husband of the church. Ephesians 5:25-27 (NASB) 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
So, it is important to understand that marriage is not just about two people coming together because they love each other. In God’s mind, marriage is much, much more. Marriage is a holy institution because it was created by God for the purpose of reflecting the Divine image and attributes of God Himself into the life of another. Meaning, when a couple marries, they are taking on the responsibility of a union that is holy and one that takes great care of one another to the point of sacrifice. As the Apostle Paul said in that same letter to the church in Ephesus, Jesus loved His bride so much that He willingly gave His life for her. Therefore, husbands are to have that same kind of sacrifice for their brides. And brides are to have the same sacrifice as the church does for her Husband, Jesus, which is submission and a willingness to follow and support and encourage her earthly husband. That is the foundation of a marriage that is holy before the Lord.
In this challenging time, a wedding may seem to be the last thing on the minds of people who are affected by the virus and especially by those who have lost loved ones to the virus. Many of you who read this may have loved ones who are ill and were supposed to be a part of your wedding. But having a wedding, even if it is small and without the large group of people who would normally be there, could be the very example of grace that people need to see right now. A wedding is a wonderful picture of life and hope and joy and love and a future. Those things, and others, are the reason Jesus died for our sins. He came to this earth to set us free from the power of sin, to rescue us from the power of Satan and his evil work. Listen to how the Bible says it, Colossians 1:13 (NASB) 13 “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Also, John 3:16-17 (NASB) 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” And the verse that really speaks to what I’m saying is, Titus 3:4-7 (NASB) 4 “when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
It was God’s willingness to come to the earth to save us. So that we would have eternal life. There is no greater future than that. That was His act of saving grace. There is nothing we could do to be saved; God saves people based on His mercy. And then His grace gives us the privilege of knowing Him and having eternal life. Our responsibility is to accept His offer of salvation. It’s a gift. Ephesians 2:8 (NASB) 8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” The way to receive a gift is by simply accepting it. God gave us the gift of His Son as the payment for our sin.
You might be asking how your wedding has anything to do with being saved? Remember, Jesus is the husband of the church and marriage is a picture of His relationship with His bride, the church. The way people become a part of His church is to accept that they are sinners who need forgiveness from God, then put their hope and faith in what Jesus did on the cross to save them. So your wedding becomes a picture of God’s saving grace. As a couple, you identify for the world that you have put your hope in Christ and been forgiven and want to show the love Jesus has for His bride, through your marriage.
So again, I can’t tell you what to do. I can say, whatever you decide, make God the focus and show the world that your marriage is a symbol of His saving grace and that you will live your lives together as a display of what He has done for you.
Photography & Styling by Sarah Darcy.