On Weddings and Battle Cries
“'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church...Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." Ephesians 5 & 6
I wonder what it looks like from heaven. Two believers standing before friends and family, all dressed up for the occasion, pledging to love and honor each other for as long as they both shall live. The two becoming one flesh - the mystery of Christ's impossible love for His church. I've seen that picture more times than I can count. But I wonder, when two of His kids get married, does God see the finery, or the battle gear?
Scripture is pretty clear - a marriage is more than a Pinterest worthy ceremony, more than designer gowns, or spectacular receptions. It is a knitting together of two souls in a way that is meant to never be unraveled. In the spiritual realm, married couples are one flesh, to some extent, one person. I say this not to erase anyone's agency, or to somehow imply that women need a husband to be spiritually secure, but to scratch at the eternal perspective of this institution we often take much too lightly.
We've said it often, and I doubt we will stop saying it anytime soon, but every marriage between believers is meant to showcase Jesus' love and sacrifice for the church. Once you say "I do" you become a living display of the gospel. Whether you are ready for that or not, your intimate, personal life is forever saying something about the gospel. (Which is why we are huge fans of premarital work! More than finances and in-laws, don't you want to be prepared to showcase something grand from the get go?)
And if your very life together is meant to highlight the gospel for the people around you, you are a missionary! Your life is now being used as a giant bill board for the gospel. But here's the rub: you're a missionary in enemy territory.
"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." 2 Cor 5:20
Connecting those two truths - married couples are meant to display the gospel and doing so puts them in the middle of a giant spiritual battle - has changed the way I participate in weddings. A wedding should be special, it should reflect the couple and be full of the things and people they love. But it should also be an intentional statement of the new spouses' personal battle cry. As they stand before their family and friends, they are also standing before the entire spiritual realm, making it known that they are signing up to fight as a special unit, together, for the glory of God and the spread of His gospel.
The guests, and especially the wedding party, should be there as active participants, not just cheering on the bride and groom, but promising to pray for them, to provide protection and support when they need it, to ask the hard questions when needed, to always hold them up before the throne of grace. Because being in battle is hard.
It is our firm belief that Satan hates few things more than Christian marriages. And he will fight hard to destroy marriages, or, and this might be even more frightening, simply render them useless. It only takes a cursory glimpse at the world around us to prove this true. Divorce is on the rise, even inside the church. Marriages are consumed by bickering, isolation, and lack of fulfillment. We speak to couples every week that feel stuck or hopeless, afraid they will appear weak if they say they are struggling, but not sure what to do next.
And yet the overarching cultural mindset is that those are problems that plague "those" couples. You know, the ones over there. Not us. We are way too in love and committed to fall prey to such minor issues. Which is probably true enough. Until you say "I do" and the war cry goes out, and the enemy lies in wait to strike at the next team of opposition.
Friends, we as a culture have to do better. We need to be honest with young couples about the enemy they are engaging and what his strategies are. We need to surround marriages with prayer, and encouragement, and support. We need to stand together against the enemy's attack on marriages at large, so that we stand a chance of using our marriages as the assault weapons they are. Billboards that scream the love of Jesus to an aching world. Harbingers of hope that if I can love him after he did that, Jesus can love you. The armor worn to the wedding must be as important as the flowers and the color pallet. The guest list must include people who will stand with the bride and groom on more than just that one day. And more than anything, married couples, we have to sound our battle cry when our comrades are in tears, weary and in need of help.
We are in this together. To God be the glory.