For Christians, the act of marriage is joyous, certainly, but it is also a particularly serious, life-changing event. Unlike contract-based secular marriage, Christian marriage is founded on a covenant—a holy, solemn and indissoluble compact.
The biblical idea of marriage goes all the way back to the beginning of our world. God had created and populated the Garden of Eden with plants and animals. Then, He created Adam. But God said, “It is not good for the Man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.
“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman, the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” Genesis 2: 18, 21–25 NASB.
As Adam and Eve became one flesh, they entered into a physical relationship sanctioned by the Lord. These were two virgins. Their wedding was a model for all godly unions to come. This was a picture of Christ and His church. Our contemporary culture may find this concept quaint and more than a little old-fashioned, but purity is at the very heart of this sacred commitment.
Before rushing to pick out a Cinderella wedding dress or shoes to die for, be sure you have selected the person that God has intended you to marry. Premarital counselor Norman Wright advises couples to delay announcing their engagement or setting a wedding date until after they complete at least half of their premarital counseling sessions. By waiting to announce, a couple can discuss big issues—beliefs, finances, having children, family structure, working outside the home, etc.—before the pressure to please and impress begins. If the couple finds out they are not compatible they can quietly go their separate ways.
Once you know you’re certain this is Mr. or Miss Right, announce the engagement and set the date. As before, maintain a vow of purity. Some couples consider the engagement to be almost the same as being married— with the same benefits. But God desires for us to wait and take marriage vows before we are intimate. Even if you are no longer a virgin refrain from intimacy until after you’re married. Pray together and ask God to forgive you and ask Him to bless your celibacy now and your faithfulness in the years to come.
Because Christian marriage is based on a covenant, many of the symbols we use today reference the Bible. For example, the white runner in the aisle between the two families signifies two lives coming together, the white cloth implying holy ground. The groom, as head of the new home, enters the church first signifying Jesus, the head of the church. The bride is dressed and veiled in white to signify purity of heart and life. The rings are circles, representing unending love and an exchange of worldly riches.
The reception, too, can take on biblical significance. In the past, a celebratory meal was often served to honor a blood covenant. Wedding feasts are referenced in the Bible and each lasted many days. In John 2:1–11, Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. This was Jesus’ first recorded miracle, marking the start of His ministry. And, Revelation 19 describes the supper of the Lamb, which is a wedding feast for Christ and His Church.
Today, wedding receptions typically center on a meal and such celebratory acts as toasting the couple, cutting the wedding cake and throwing rice. Toasts honor and bless the couple. Cutting the cake references the blood covenant and the bride and groom feeding each other a piece of cake implies a commitment to care for each other as one body. Throwing rice originated with guests throwing seeds, a symbolic wish for fertility and blessings. Everything done this day resonates with joyful hope for an abundant life.
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