Wedding of Jennifer Dittel & Daniel Lanoux
August 22, 2009
Text: Ephesians 5:1-2, 22-33
Dear friends and family of Jennifer and Daniel, gathered here as friends in Christ,
Jennifer and Daniel, many would ask why you are getting married. With both being in the service and our nation’s continued involvement overseas for the foreseeable future, one must wonder what kind of marriage you will have. Even if you were resolved to leave the military, you might not have that choice. A fellow pastor who is a long time retired air force colonel and pilot was mentioning the other day that he still was required to maintain his uniform in case he was recalled. And so we know that the military is a life time commitment itself, whether we want it to be or not. The question is further pressed with the notion that many today despise the institution of marriage. Many today live in arrangements other than marriage. And so, while your motivations are your own, we are here today doing something that is genuinely counter cultural.
We can look at marriage in two ways, as God instituted and as it exists today. God instituted marriage before the fall into sin, so that isn’t really very helpful. So that leaves us examining the muck that we, sinful, humans have made of it. But there is in fact a third option. That is to look through the eyes of Scripture at God’s view of marriage in our sinful world.
Marriage is a major theme in the Old Testament prophets. Israel is described as God’s bride. But she is an unfaithful bride. Scripture describes bride Israel in the harshest terms imaginable. St. Paul picks up on our sinful nature in describing earthly marriage in I Corinthians 7:9 were we read, “If they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” Later in that chapter St. Paul adds: “Those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” These things reminds us how our sins drive us and often hurt those around us, those closest to us. These trials reflect our sinfulness.
Yet, St. Paul also has more to say to us about marriage. Marriage is also a picture of redemption. Christ redeems us and washes us clean. Christ takes Israel, that unfaithful bride, Israel, and restores her to virgin purity and takes her as His bride. To do this, Christ gives Himself for Her. He dies for His bride. This then becomes the image of marriage. We give ourselves for the sake of the other. Christian marriage is an act of redemption. It is a buying back from sin and death and committing to life. In marriage we commit to life together in Christ. We commit to being a vessel of life to the world, in our prayers together, and if God wills, in procreation.
And so Jennifer and Daniel, you are making a huge leap today. Marriage is a great commitment and obligation. It is also a good and Godly estate. In addition it is intended for your mutual joy and to build up one another and to bring the best out of each other. This happens when you each recognize who and what you are - sinners, who are also beggars of God’s grace. Luther’s last written words were, “This is certain, we are beggars all.” But we are also the redeemers of one another, as we forgive each other’s sins, as Christ has forgiven you. Marriage works, as best it can among sinful humans, when we are mirrors of Christ’s love and forgiveness.