Saturday, October 14, 2017

The author of marriage. . .

Lutherans and Roman Catholics can both agree that “God himself is the author of marriage”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church).  We have all attended weddings which were postponed while the couple lived together saving up for the big party.  We have all attended weddings in which no expense was spared and no detail left out, where the whole event was picture perfect.  We have all found weddings filled with all the requisite money, activities, decorations, and people and yet there is a certain emptiness to it all.  We are well fed, well drunk, well partied out, and we have the gifts and thank you notes to show for it all.  But has there been any hint that God is indeed the author of marriage, that marriage is a gift of God, and that He has graced marriage not only with His favor but with the grace of forgiveness to heal the husband and wife when life pulls them apart.

Lutherans and Roman Catholics do a great job of making the day special, of making sure that bride and groom are front and center, of imaging a wedding made in heaven (even if marriages are lived here on earth).  But have we done enough to make sure that in both wedding and marriage we give witness to God as the "author" of marriage and the one who defines it -- not for His good but for ours?  Have we worked to prepare a couple not only to make sure that there wedding speaks to the faith but also their marriage?

The marriages of Christians are surely tempted and tried every bit as much as those outside the faith -- if not more.  And they fail.  Christian husbands and wives enter the divorce court just like those who claim no faith.  And they treat their marriages as unpleasant task rather than holy joy.  Therein lies the key.  Marriages should not be dealt with simply as means to happiness but as places where the holy joy of our heavenly Father and the blessed grace of Christ and His Spirit are present (just as our Lord visited the wedding feast at Cana and manifested His holy joy to husband and wife and to all their guests).

The witness we give to the world in both wedding and marriage is not some picture perfect relationship without problem or trouble but a place where the holy joy of God's grace and favor are lived out, imperfectly, but lived out nonetheless.  Key to this is the home of husband and wife within the Church, fount and source of the grace in which they stand, and goal and summit to which they live.  Where husband and wife find their lives richly nourished by the means of grace, they will bring children into this same blessed life to encounter the holy joy of His favor and the blessed new life of His redemption.  And this will be the evidence presented to the world of the power and gift of this Gospel -- the holy joy that sustains, nourishes, nurtures, and grows us.

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