As we gather here to join Andy and Alli as husband and wife, I find myself filled with a number of emotions. A moment ago I felt a bit of nostalgia as I watched Alli coming down the aisle. You probably can’t tell, but there is quite an age gap between Alli and myself. Can this really be the baby girl who I first met in the hospital just 23 short years ago? Or the little girl who was just entering kindergarten when I left for college? Or the eighteen year-old whose graduation I spoke at? Or the twenty-one year old who graduated from college in three years as the valedictorian of her class? Yes, she is all of these a much more as today she is a beautiful young woman who in just a few moments will be joined to the man she loves.
Of course, on the other side of the nostalgia is pride. Of all four of my siblings, Alli and I are probably the most alike and today I take pride in our shared intelligence, good looks, humor, and most importantly, humility.
All joking aside, I am truly proud of the woman that Alli has become, the choice that she has made for her husband, and I look forward to what God is going to do through their lives.
It is now my job to give a short challenge to Alli and Andy before they are officially joined as husband and wife. And I believe this is the most difficult job of the day, for two reasons. First, I haven’t been able to get Alli to listen to me for the first 23 years of her life, and I don’t know that today will be any different. The second reason is that there is a lot of confusion in our world today about marriage. In fact, for most people Andy and Ali’s age, marriage isn’t even on the radar. And for most people older than them, staying married isn’t on the radar. It seems that a majority of people, both married and unmarried are asking the question “Why Marriage?” And while there is a great deal of confusion about this question in our culture, there is absolutely no confusion in God’s Word. And so I would simply like to take a few moments and give three biblical answers to the most important question Why Marriage?
The first reason that we see for marriage in Scripture is for companionship. In the second chapter of Genesis we see that God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and so he created Eve to be Adam’s companion.
In this same vein, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV) has become a special passage for Andy and Ali. It says this:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
A key word here is friend. Andy, Alli should be your best friend. Alli, Andy should be your best friend. This shouldn’t just be something you just say or post on Facebook, but rather reality. You are called to be more than spouses, to be more than lovers, you are called to deep friendship. There should be no human relationship that even approaches the closeness that you have with another. God has given you to one another to celebrate the good times, to encourage one another through the hard times, and to share all of the experiences of life together.
A second purpose for marriage is what I call mission. In Genesis 2 we also see that God created Adam and gave him a job, a task, a that mission he was to perform. And then God created Eve to help him accomplish this mission. In fact, the text actually says:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18 (ESV)
A helper to do what – to accomplish what God had called him to do. Andy and Alli, God has given you a mission in life. Although I don’t know what that mission is specifically, I do know what it is in general, and that is the mission that Christ calls all believers to – to use our gifts and abilities to glorify God by furthering Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Until today God has called you to do this individually but from this moment forward you are to pursue Christ and His reign on this earth together, as one flesh. That is God’s mission for your marriage.
Now the final and most important purpose for marriage is illustration. The key passage in the entire Bible regarding marriage can be found in Ephesians 5. Here Paul tells us that God has designed marriage to be an illustration of the relationship that Jesus Christ has with His church. In other words, God’s design for marriage is for it to be a picture, a reflection, a testimony of how Christ relates to His bride and how his bride is called to relate to Him.
That’s why Paul tells us in v. 25 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and in v. 24 that wives are to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. When a husband lovingly and sacrificially leads his wife, he is giving a wonderful picture to the world of how Christ lovingly and sacrificially gave his life for us. And when a wife humbly and lovingly follows her husband’s lead she is giving a great testimony of what it means for a believer to follow and honor Christ as our leader.
Everyone, I need you to listen to me carefully now. Normally I am not so straight forward on this point at weddings because I don’t want to upset people, but since most of you are family or friends and you have to love me regardless, here I go. Today is a beautiful occasion; Alli is beautiful, the dress is beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, I won’t say Andy is beautiful but he does look as good as he ever will. Everything is great. Big party to come. But you can’t miss the fact that the wedding isn’t about the dress or the flowers, or the pictures or the reception; rather it’s about the most important truth in all of life. In about 8 hours this will be all over and simply a memory. A great memory, but a memory nonetheless. But the truth that it represents is eternal. This truth is the fact that God became a man, died on a cross, rose again, and now offers us the opportunity to enter into an eternal marriage relationship with Him. That’s the purpose for today; one big celebration to point to the greatness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the wonderful relationship that he offers to each one of us.
So Andy and Alli, family and friends, please see Jesus today; have a great time, enjoy the ceremony and the reception, but don’t miss Jesus. And let’s bring glory to him, both today, and in all the days to come.