"Holy Matrimony" is Marriage Like No Other
“...This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:32)
Thinking back over the recent wedding of my youngest son and his lovely new wife last weekend, I was reminded that "Holy Matrimony" in the Lord is something altogether different than what our present culture is defining, or re-defining, as "marriage." Holy means "other than." Holy things are unique, not mixed, compromised, or fashioned into any form that people imagine. Nothing that truly belongs to God can be authentically changed by mankind...whom God created.
Sitting in my son's and daughter-in-law's ceremony, I sensed the presence of the Lord. I was aware that the Holy Spirit was working to join a man and a woman in a COVENANT of marriage. The prayers and the vows gave witness to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The pronouncement of "husband and wife" by the minister of God, signified to all who were present, whether they understood it or not, they had experienced a moment of divine presence and authority. Something wonderful happened on earth AND in God's kingdom. Holy matrimony is not something that people in this broken world can experience if they reject God's order for families. For example, there is nothing holy about same sex marriage or divorce for the purpose of marrying someone else.
Authentic vs. Inauthentic
I thought about the legacies of our two families in relation to Holy Matrimony: My parents were married for 48 years until my mom's passing 11 years ago. My wife's parents have been married for 61 years. My daughter-in-law's parents have been married for 22 years. Her grandparents have been married for 48 years. My wife and I have been married for 35 years. There are generations of related people, with recognizable matriarchs and patriarchs, that comprise our family.
We all know that people experience failure in life and in marriage for many reasons, but this is not a reason to condemn anyone, nor to allow our understanding of marriage to fail because of bad experiences. Holy Matrimony does not fail. People compromise and fail. God is a God of imperfect people and second chances.
"Holy" should not be allowed to become common and unholy. If/when that happens, the fault lies with sinful people, not a Holy God. The difference between worldly marriage and Holy Matrimony (holy marriage) is the difference between photocopied artwork and artwork produced by the hands of a master artist.
Jesus Cannot Be Re-Branded
Those who believe in Holy Matrimony embrace God's holy purpose and plan for marriage, family, and life. People who reject this (as is their right) neither believe in God's word, nor follow Jesus Christ. The present cultural climate is one of eager defiance against God's plan and order for marriage. Entertainers like Whoopi Goldberg (who's been married and divorced three times) tell Christians, “You cannot stem this tide[gay marriage]. It is coming whether you're comfortable with it or not. For all of you folks who are deep Christians, as I recall as a child, I remember Jesus had a lot of different kinds of friends. Jesus never turned anybody away.”
For believers, this is not a matter of "comfort" in the face of defiance, nor "turning away" people. It is a matter of discovering who understands and honors God's holy things. It is a time of testing for people who call themselves "Christians" but do not follow Christ. It is an opportunity not to misrepresent or try to "re-brand" Jesus Christ as supportive of whatever people want to do. Jesus is a friend of sinners, as we should be, but not a friend of any culture that contradicts God's ways. (James 4:4)
We conveniently forget how Jesus lovingly ministered to a woman caught up in sexual sin: "And Jesus said, I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more." (John 8:11)
Jesus will receive and forgive anyone, but He is still saying, "Go. From now on sin no more."
Folks can "get married" and have a civil union, but not everyone experiences marriage as "Holy Matrimony" in the presence of God. There is a difference that matters for people who love God.
Ephesians 5:25-32 (NIV) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.