My wife and I said the old vows to each other when we married:
“I take thee to be my wedded wife/husband,
To have and to hold from this day forward,
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer
In sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance;
And thereto I plight thee my troth.”
We repeat those vows to each other frequently and add the following line from the old marriage liturgy:
“I have forsaken all others and will cleave only unto thee.”
When the Lord Jesus teaches about marriage in Matthew 19, He quotes from Genesis 2: “A man shall leave his father and mother and a woman her home and the two shall become one flesh.”
Men and women were made for each other. That’s a piece of natural law for those of us that believe Christians are called to a new culture distinct from the wider culture. When a man and woman find each other and become one flesh, that relationship is meant to be exclusive…not only in the physical sense but also in the emotional sense.
“I plight thee my troth” means a lifelong pledge of faithfulness to each other once we have decided to become one flesh. Henceforth we belong to each other, and, as Christians, we confess that we belong to the Lord who is both Maker and Owner of all things.
For the past six weeks, I’ve been preaching on Christ the Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride. I’ve been using that image as a way of drawing implications for marriages from the appointed preaching texts from Matthew’s gospel. If you want to read the past sermons, you can access them through the sermon archives on our website using the pull down menu marked “Daily Worship.”
Being baptized into Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection makes one a disciple of Jesus as He indicates in Matthew 28. Disciples are those who learn what the Lord Jesus commands and ask the Holy Spirit’s help to conform our lives to His life and teaching. This is the daily work of living one’s Baptism: dying to self and rising to the new life in which Christ dwells in us.
“I plight thee my troth” is easier to say than to do…especially when times are tough and marriage is even more challenging. Paul says to the Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13). That’s the way we are able to keep our vows all the time…with our Lord’s help!
I pray daily for the marriages of our parish and for the marriages of those I know and love. If you’re thinking about getting married or having a tough time being married, please go back and read the sermons from the last six weeks and do come to worship with us this weekend. If you want to get married or you want to talk about your marriage, drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.