A while back, I went to a wedding where the officiating pastor said something like this:
“You see, standing up here, and saying I do–making these vows–does not mean you’re married. Marriage is so much more than that. Marriage is something that takes place each and every day, a conscious decision that you make daily.”
I understand what the pastor was trying to say. “Marriage is tough work. You have to make a conscious decision to die to yourself each and every day. It’s not enough to just say the words ‘I do’ and saying that you will stay with a person in sickness and in health. It means actually living that out.”
I understand what the pastor was trying to say, and I agree with him a 100% in that regard–marriage is so much more than just saying the words on some Saturday (or other day).
What worried me about his statement were the implications of what he said. You see, it’s a short step from saying ‘It’s not all about what you say right now during this service’ to ‘What you say in this service doesn’t matter’. And when ‘what you say in this service doesn’t matter,’ you leave the door wide open for divorce.
“Well, we never really got married five years ago because we didn’t mean it.” The wedding vows are the sign of a covenant between a man and woman and God. Those vows are binding, regardless of whether you ‘mean it’ or not. Tim Keller puts it this way: “Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love.”
When we say our wedding vows, we are proclaiming that I do, and more importantly, always will, commit myself to love this other person, regardless of the cost.