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Let's Work Together to Build Stronger Marriages!, by Ron Rose

    Let’s think for a moment about the wedding ceremony. We know God is not only present in the ceremony, He is the one who joins the couple together. He, in fact, gives each to the other and this new relationship is to be lived under God’s blessing and regulated by His commands. But, consider this: although marriage is personal and intimate, it is never just between two people. It involves three different kinds of relationships—the couple, the audience, and God.

    Marriage is a covenant between the man and woman, between the couple and society, and between the couple and God. It is based, not on a promise of what the couple will do for each other, but on the couple will do together for God in the community. It’s shaped by what God will do in them for each other and for mankind. For too long, we have emphasized the couple part without publicly dealing with the other relationships. In fact, most of the time, the ceremony falls victim to form and tradition.

Vow basics

    The ceremony is not just a public contract with wherefores and therefores; it is a covenant.

Marriage is a covenant.
    It recognizes that there will be difficult times, dangers, pitfalls, and disappointments. It also assumes there will be good times filled with joy and celebration. This vow is a promise to be kept for a lifetime, in spite of the difficulties, whether we feel like it, or not. The wedding ceremony binds the couple together for a lifetime adventure of faith. It is an expression of a willful decision to trust each other, even when one or the other doesn’t feel like it. This personal, lifetime commitment means that each of the partners will...

be dedicated to nurturing a growing relationship
reject alternative relationships
submit to being shaped by you mate
limit, but not do away with personal activities
feel a growing awareness of involvement and oneness
develop a deeper sense of trust, patience, and hope
take God seriously.

Vow enhancement

    Develop wedding traditions for your congregation.

Pre-ceremony Visit

    For instance, ask one of your veteran couples to meet with each engaged couple prior to the ceremony. The task is simple: Share what the wedding vows have meant to the veteran couple through the years. Before the veteran couples leaves they should pray with and bless the engaged couple.

The Marriage Plaque

    Commission a plaque or banner displaying “The Marriage Promise” (the wedding vows). Place it in the lobby or in the back of the auditorium—make sure it can be seen by all. The plaque says at least two things to the church: (1) we value marriage here, and (2) we remember our vows (and we want our children to remember them, too).

   Send two miniaturized copies of the wedding vows to each couple married in your church building. These small wedding certificates can be constant reminders of the vows that we've taken.

Letters of Promise

    Ask couples to write "letters of promise" to each other. These letters should answer the following question: As you prepare to make your wedding vows, what promises do you want to make to your fiancée?

   Mail these letters to the couple 30 days after their wedding. These letters will become cherished keepsakes and they will help you stay in touch after the ceremony.

Include Audience in Vows

    Include vows for the audience in the ceremony.

“As family and friends gathered here to witness the birth of this couple, do you promise to accept ________ and ___________ as a couple in your lives and homes? Do you promise to give them time to grow and discover the joys of marriage? And, do you promise to bless them as they become what God wants them to be?"

Audience response: “We Do!”

   Let’s trade some ideas here. What have you done or seen done in weddings that would help us all rethink the vows? E-mail me your responses and I’ll include your ideas in a future Together in His Grace Column.


HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-98, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Article copyright © 1998, Ron Rose. Used by permission.
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