I love to joke with people that, “I do a great wedding.” The truth is, I love doing weddings, and I try to make them special for each couple. There’s something about watching a couple make that public declaration of their love and devotion to each other that I can’t get enough of. As the minister officiating so many weddings, I get a front row seat to some of the most genuine expressions of love that you will ever see.
Yet, there I face a dilemma regarding weddings. Truthfully, it’s not really an issue with weddings per se, but an issue with the laws surrounding marriage. I have this incredible privilege of being a representative of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the state. I help people come together in both Holy matrimony and civil union. Herein lies my dilemma. Every time I sign my name to a marriage license, I am reminded that I’ve been made a legal guardian of marriage entry but have NO legal influence over marriage exit. Why is my signature not also required for a divorce? I understand that this is a really complicated issue. There is a blending of church and state over marriage entry but a separation of church and state over marriage exit.
I would love to receive the phone call from the divorce attorney requesting my presence to “officiate the divorce.” Of course, it would not be that simple. Just like I go to great lengths to help couple “start married life right,” I also go to great lengths to “save boring, bruised and broken marriages.” If my signature were required for divorce, there would be far fewer divorces and the process would be far slower.
I’m not sure there is a great answer anywhere on the horizon to solve this dilemma, but the reality of marriage never changes. Marriages thrive most when couples live according to God’s plan for marriage and put forth significant effort to love one another well. Just as most would agree that preparing for marriage is wise, especially with the guidance of a pro-Scripture, pro-marriage, pro-commitment pastor or mentor; I think we can all agree that it is foolish to approach divorce without similar guidance from a pro-Scripture, pro-marriage, pro-commitment pastor or mentor. Every married couple should have someone guarding the exits!
Here’s the guidance I would offer to every married couple…
1. Covenant together to NEVER threaten with divorce.
2. Make the commitment to be active in a church that teaches what the Bible most plainly says about marriage.
3. Develop a key relationship with a pastor or mentor and give them permission to speak into your marriage.
4. Return to your vows annually (or more frequently as needed). If you forgot your wedding vows, please refer to the vows I use in weddings below.
Your Marriage Vows:
Do you Groom/Husband take Bride/Wife…to be your lawfully wedded WIFE in the Covenant of marriage; Will you be committed to her in every way; Will you love her as Christ loved the Church; Will you choose love and remain in this union in sickness and in health; in adversity and prosperity; and forsaking all others; until death do you part to the Glory of Almighty God?
Do you Bride/Wife take Groom/Husband …to be your lawfully wedded HUSBAND in the Covenant of marriage; Will you be committed to him in every way; Will you submit to him as unto the Lord; Will you choose love and remain in this union; in sickness and in health; in adversity and prosperity; and forsaking all others; until death do you part to the Glory of Almighty God?
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