Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Royal Wedding

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm

For many the world stopped for about four hours on April 29, as an estimated 2 billion people (presumably 95% female) tuned in to “The Royal Wedding”.  It was quite a gala affair (I am told by the ladies in my house).  There were a couple of interesting points brought up about the wedding that I think are applicable to Christian marriages, especially in the USA.

I have always been intrigued by the part in some weddings where the minister declares, “If anyone here knows of any reason why this couple should not be joined as man and wife, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace.”  In television movies and sit-coms there has been a lot of drama associated with that phrase.  There is a lot of controversy as to how this British tradition started, but you can find it at least as early as the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

It does make sense to get sound and godly counsel from trusted persons before entering into marriage.  However, it seems a little silly to ask those who are witnessing the wedding to “speak now or forever hold your peace”.  There is a time and place for everything, and “speaking then” is a little late.  “Speaking earlier” would be much preferred.  As a pastor I see sessions of pre-marital counseling as extremely helpful with those who desire marriage.  What better time is there to work through the important issues of “two becoming one flesh” than before they come up?  What better time to deeply meditate on the duties of husband and wife, than before they are joined?  If there are valid objections to the marriage, and sometimes there can be (our Confession names a few), they should be made before the bride and groom are standing at the altar.

Which brings us back to the Royal Wedding:  the vows taken by both were “to love and cherish”.  Every wedding I have officiated has used the vows for the groom of:  “Love, honor and cherish” and for the bride “Love, honor and obey”.

These latter vows, if taken seriously, are Biblical and will keep the marriage intact and God honoring.  The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  This is a self-sacrificing love that puts her needs first.  He is to give her due honor as the weaker vessel.  He is to cherish her – and if he cherishes her – he will never ask her to do something to her harm or detriment.  The wife can safely trust her husband to do her good as Christ does the church.

The wife promises to love and honor, but many balk at “obey”.  Obey is the sticky point in today’s culture.  “Why should a woman obey?  She’s not a slave”.  True.  But neither is she an independent entity.  “They two shall become one flesh.”  She is to obey her husband as the church obeys her Lord.  Of course the Lord will never harm His church, while a husband may do wrong.  The command to obey (or submit) is not absolute, but it is part of God’s design.

There are balancing principles.  The husband who does not consult his wife and communicate with her on important issues is a fool.  The woman who seeks to control the marriage is a rebel.  Both sin against God, their spouse and against themselves.  The sin stems from a root of selfishness and is self-destructive.  It is little wonder the divorce rate in America is so high.  As Christians we desire something better.  We desire to live in our marriage the way God commanded in Ephesians 5:22-33.  There is no better way – no matter what the culture says.

Steve Marquedant, Pastor
Sovereign Grace Baptist Church
Ontario, CA
  1. I am delighted that your wife was watching and passed on the details of the ceremony in such detail. FYI, the wedding service is pretty much identical in the 1556 Prayer-book and therefore goes back to the dawn of the Reformation.

    For my part, as an Englishman, I was just relieved that the service was not a ‘multi-faith’ one and that we did not have queues of Chief Rabbi, assorted Mullahs, Gurus, Druids and others waiting to bless the happy couple. Unless the Lord graciously brings us revival, I fear that is what we shall have in 30 years’ time at the next such event.

  2. Marriage banns must be read or called during services on three Sundays before the wedding in the parish church of the bride and the groom. If the wedding is being held outside the parish of the bride or groom, the marriage banns must be read in that church as well. The banns are considered valid for three months after the last reading. Typically, the marriage banns state the name and parish of both bride and groom, and indicate that individuals with objections to the marriage should make those objections known before the wedding day. The final Banns of marriage is that which is said in the service “If anyone knows of any just cause why… etc” All this was done in the days before instant communication. If one of the persons in the wedding had another wife or husband in another county this would allow time for news of the wedding to spread. Of course now it is simply tradition.

  3. I guess that one thing I appreciated about all the hoopla surrounding this wedding is that it drew world wide attention to the fact that marriage matters.

    It conveyed the message: Marriage is important. Marriage is worth making a big deal out of. Marriage is to be honored. Marriage is to be celebrated. Marriage is the proper condition for a cohabiting heterosexual couple to be in. Marriage is a religious institution. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Marriage is ordained by God. Marriage is to be done God’s way and on God’s terms.

    And while the vows were not, as Pastor Steve pointed out so well, all they should have been in expressing God ordained gender roles, they did express the biblical nature of a marriage covenant and uphold the terms God has established for the marriage union.

    It was a frontal assault by way of example on worldly perversions of the institution of marriage. I was thankful for that.

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