Category Archives: Wedding
The best definition for love is found in the New Testament. If you hope to practice the love described below, be prepared for some deep transformations of your life and relationships — from the inside out.
This love stands out as anti-rivalry. It opposes resentful comparisons and prideful competition. It does not resort to envy, one-up-man-ship, gossip or vindictiveness. This is a love that protects and honors the one loved.
- is patient
- is kind
- does not envy
- does not boast
- is not proud
- is not rude
- is not self seeking (demanding its own way)
- is not easily angered (irritable)
- it keeps no record of wrongs
- is never glad about evil
- rejoices in truth
- never gives up (always protects)
- never loses faith (always trusts)
- is always hopeful (positive)
- endures all circumstances (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
“It is often pointed out that in this paragraph Paul seems best to capture the life and ministry of Jesus. So much so that one could substitute His name for the noun “love” and thereby describe love in a more personal way. After doing so, however, one does not want to miss Paul’s point, which ultimately is description for the purpose of exhortation. Perhaps that point could best be captured by putting one’s own name in place of the noun “love,” and not neglecting thereafter to find a proper place for repentance and forgiveness” (Gordon Fee, N.I.C.N.T.; I Corinthians, p.640).
Love’s final four companions
Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. This is love’s grand finale in a staccato of four verbs — each one all-encompassing ! (”All things”; adverbial: “In everything/always”).
“There is nothing love cannot face” (NEB). “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT). Love embraces faith and hope. It is tenacious and faithful. Love is brave and noble; it never fails — no wonder the greatest is love.
Think about it:
“Paul does not mean that love always believes the best about everything and everyone, but that love never ceases to have faith; it never loses hope. This is why it can endure. The life that is so touched by the never-ceasing love of God in Christ (cf. Romans 8:39) is in turn enabled by the Spirit to love others in the same way. It trusts God on behalf of the one loved, hopes to the end that God will show mercy in that person’s behalf” (Gordon Fee, I Corinthians, N.I.C.N.T., p. 640).
Love is what the world needs and what each person can experience through God’s love in Christ (see: Rom. 5:8; 8:38-39; Titus 3:3-6).
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other” (I John 4:9-11)
When our beautiful daughter (Steph Griffen) got married she told me in her typical cute way that she didn’t want her wedding to be a “sob-fest” (her words). She knew how easily her dad could let the tears roll.
Well, when I walked into the bridal room to see how she was doing, she looked at me in her beautiful wedding dress and tears filled her eyes. I immediately said, “We agreed not to do this now!” We then laughed together.
I actually officiated the formal part of her wedding and pronounced them husband and wife without shedding a tear.
But I admit that I lost it completely at the father-daughter dance. You see, they did something a little cruel to me before the wedding. She and her mom sent me three songs to choose from for the father-daugher dance. I listened to each of them in my office with the door shut and a Do Not Disturb sign up. I cried in my office like a baby through all of the songs! So I thought I got it “out of my system.” But something about taking her into my arms for that dance made the tears flowed! I can’t even write about it now without tears. :)
The video below is a precious memory from another wedding. The girl’s father had passed away before her wedding so her brother arranged something special for her. It appears that her grandfather is the first person to dance with her.
I had to put the sign back up on my office door for this one. You might need a few tissues.
When I perform a wedding (over 150), I always look at the groom when the bride enters the door. What a joy to see their joy! (see some examples here).
When I teach a class for singles each fall semester (for 20 years now), I always ask why it is that 200,000 marriages in America end before reaching their 3rd Anniversary. How does a couple go from the joy of celebration to the hostility of divorce in this short time?
We invest a good bit of time answering this question and it proves enlightening for the singles and hopefully serves to protect them from such tragedy. I remind singles that it’s one thing to “be” in love with someone; it’s another to love someone for life.
The difference between being in love and behaving in love must be understood (see resources below for explaining this distinction).
Short audio clips:
Resources for helping singles:
- What if I don’t feel love for my spouse?
- To love and to cherish
- How can we know what love is?
- 5 commitments for a good marriage
I typically use the traditional vows in wedding ceremonies. Some couples, however, ask to write their own vows. When they do this, I always ask to review their vows to make sure they align with the substance of the traditional ones.
The vows below are the ones I’ve used for most weddings I’ve performed. If you’re married, review them and recommit yourself to them. If you’re single, reflect on the depth of their meaning.
The line that stands out to me in light of many troubled marriages is the vow “to love and to cherish.” It might sound redundant but loving and cherishing could be two different expressions. Certainly, one cannot claim to cherish someone without love. But is it possible to love without cherishing? I am commanded to love others but I am not sure I am ready to say that I cherish everyone I love.
To cherish implies something precious. Love is doing what is best for others according to God’s will. Love is clearly a value word implying that the one being loved is important. But cherishing seems to take value to a different level. Cherishing implies that someone or thing is exceptionally precious and valuable. It also seems to imply a kind of tenderheartedness and sweetness that we don’t give to everyone we love.
When marriages become troubled, you can be certain that cherishing has diminished. When a couple allows an ugly form of competitive rivalry to threaten their unity, loss of good will toward each other replaces cherishing. I realize that it takes work for marriage to work. I remind young couples that it’s one thing to be in love but another to love someone day by day for life.
When we cease to love and to cherish, it’s easy to find fault in the other person. But please look at the condition of your own heart first. I am not suggesting that one’s mate cannot make it exceptionally difficult to love and to cherish him. I know of a number of people facing this challenge. If you’re in this situation, the last line of the vow is important to note: “according to God’s standards.” I do not vow to love and to cherish “according to my mate’s standard” or “my own standard” but God’s standard. This means that sometimes loving and cherishing must be expressed through tough love and accountability (see: Seven signs of true repentance). If I love and cherish someone, I want her to flourish in God’s best for her life.
Groom’s name (please repeat after me)
I, _______________, take you ______________, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward. I promise to be your loving and faithful husband, in prosperity or in need, in joy or in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death causes us to part, according to God’s standards.
Bride’s name (please repeat after me)
I, _______________, take you ______________, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward. I promise to be your loving and faithful wife, in prosperity or in need, in joy or in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death causes us to part, according to God’s standards.
See also: How can we know what love is?
29 years ago my bride walked down the aisle to the song performed so brilliantly in this video
“After 29 years of marriage, raising four children to adulthood and planting a thriving church during those years, my wife and I know that marriage requires intentional commitment. A marriage will not do well without focus on building a strong relationship.
The pastor who married us gave me one line of advice: ……”
Check out the rest of my column in Lehigh Valley’s Newspaper: The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania:
Excerpts from the column:
“There are no perfect marriages. All married people struggle to some extent to keep their marriages healthy and strong. I say this because I find that many people want too much from marriage. They have unrealistic ideas about marriage. They’re in love with the idea of being in love.”
“It’s one thing to be in love; it’s another to love a person in the proximity of marriage! Unrealistic and idealized versions of the relationship of marriage or of the person you plan to marry will quickly shatter in married life.”
“When sinners say, ‘I do’ we cannot expect perfection! There are risks involved because there are sinners involved. You will probably get hurt but what you do with the hurt is the important part. The key to marital harmony is not the removal of all conflict but a shared commitment to a reconciling spirit between two people who have been reconciled to God.”
“Marriage is not primarily about personal happiness and satisfaction. Yes, in good marriages, this will be experienced. But personal happiness and satisfaction must not be viewed as the goal of marriage if you hope to experience them in it. God designed us so that our deepest joys are experienced in giving love.”
“Marriage clearly offers the closest possible relationship of intimacy and companionship we can enjoy. It should be a relationship of mutual encouragement, acceptance and partnership. It should be characterized by truth, love, good will and grace toward each other.”
There is something special about holding the hand of the one you love. It’s hard to be against each other when holding hands.
I’ll never forget the symbolic importance of the hand after hearing it presented at my nephew’s wedding. The pastor asked the bride and groom to face each other as he invited them to consider the hand of the one they love. What he said brought tears to many eyes.
The pastor invited the bride to hold our nephew’s hands palms up, so she may see the gift that they are to her.
“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to love you all the days of his life. These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams. These are the hands you will place with expectant joy against your stomach, until he too, feels his child stir within you.”
“These are the hands that look so large and strong, yet will be so gentle as he holds your baby for the first time. These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family. These are that hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime.”
“These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief wrack your mind. These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes: eyes that are filled completely with his love and desire for you.”
Then the pastor told my nephew to hold his bride’s hands palms up, where he may see the gift that they are to him.
“These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she pledges her love and commitment to you all the days of her life. These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it is time to let go. These are the hands that will massage tension from your neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.”
“These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime. These are the hands that will hold you in joy and excitement and hope, each time she tells you that you are to have another child. These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams.”
After referring to this in a sermon, a widower told me how much he missed holding his wife’s hand (they had been married 61 years). He said the first time he reached for her hand, she later told him she felt an electric shock go from the top of her head to the sole of her foot (in a good way!). Some of the widows in our church said, “Please keep on reminding the married couples to love each other this way. They will miss it some day.”
The assignment for today is simple: Hold the hand of the one you love before the day is over.
The Lord said of his people,
“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49:16 NLT)
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”