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Monday, October 24, 2011

These Witnesses

My son is getting married today. I'll be attending his wedding. A joyous occasion. She's a lovely person and will be a fine addition to our family. He will learn wonderful things from the experience like commitment, stability, responsibility, and on and on. A wonderful day.

It hit me the other day that I won't actually be attending his wedding. That's a common phrase and a common perception, but there is a fundamental difference between, say, attending a ballgame and being present at a wedding. What is it that the one doing the ceremony typically says? "We are gathered here before God and these witnesses ..." When it comes to a wedding, we are not merely observers; we are witnesses. This isn't a simple ceremony; it's a covenant-making event. These aren't two people who are going to be living together; they are becoming one. And they're doing so in front of God and these witnesses. What's the aim here? Why are we not simply observers? We are witnesses. What does that mean?

First, it means that we are affirming this wedding. When the traditional question is asked, "Does anyone present know of any reason why these two should not be joined?", our silence is confirmation that they are to be wed. We are not only observing; we are confirming this union. This is one of the underlying points in the story of Jesus at the wedding at Cana. His presence was an affirmation of marriage in general and the specific union of the two in particular. So is ours.

It also means that we are the enforcers, so to speak. When questions regarding this marriage arise, we are the ones who should be asked, "Did they commit to each other?" If there are problems between them, we are the ones who ought to hold them accountable to their vows. We affirmed their marriage. Now we need to support it, defend it, cement it.

I know. I'm making much more of it than almost anyone else would. I think, however, that it's not to the credit of so many witnesses to so many weddings that divorce rates are so high. If witnesses offered genuine reasons why they should not be wed when such reasons existed, some bad marriages would never have happened. And if we, as those who confirmed the wedding, supported that marriage, perhaps some bad marriages could be salvaged. We aren't, after all, mere observers. This isn't a ballgame. It's a mystery, when two become one and a new family is formed and we are there to be a part of it. We should do what we can to support such a mystery.

Congratulations to my son and his new wife.

1 comment:

Miklós said...

It is a great moment for a father's heart. Congratulations to you all Stan!
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD." (Prov 18:22)