Brief for a Wedding Sermon Volume 1

Here are the suprisingly detailed but surprisingly wise instructions given me by a couple I am to marry this year:

Regarding Heaven and Hell

I feel there's a danger in getting married and having a big celebration and a beautiful ceremony, that the event will automatically communicate that our great hope and goal in life is to be married... Even the impression that during our wedding ceremony, our focus and joy in life for that hour is temporarily on each other rather than God is to be avoided...

Weddings and entering marriage are often thought of, and spoken of in heaven like language. “Happily ever after”. Marriage can be seen as the great goal and destination in life and a secure permanence and belonging. Entering a state of blessedness or bliss. Even the Bible talks a bit about the goodness of marriage (Prov. 5:18-19; 12:4; 18:22, 19:14; 31:10) We hope to have joy in marriage, but we're not placing upon it expectations that only heaven and God will meet. Our hope is heaven – of knowing God, his kindness and forgiveness now and forever.

  • Our great delight will not be in the wonderfulness of each other but in the gloriousness of God. Making each other our great delight and love at the expense of God would be as much of a waste and as meaningless as a parent placing their delight in and giving their love to their pet mouse rather than their child.

  • Our sense of meaning, roots, permanence and belonging won't be in marriage, house or children. All those will pass away – we'll enter heaven unmarried – brother and sister in the church, which will be married to Christ and our earthly home will be gone.

  • Despite the marriage vows to serve each other, the LORD is our helper, our ever-present help in trouble.

  • Our great goal and destination in life is to enter the true heaven and enjoy God's affection forever.

  • Our great earthly joy (even on our wedding day) is nothing other than the embarrassingly good goodness of knowing who the true and living God is, knowing that he is a very great, holy and righteous God, and that we were crucified on the Cross with him so that our very great sins are paid for and he loves us and will treat us kindly forever.

Marriage is also thought of and spoken of in hell-type language. (perhaps starting out as heaven, or expected to be heaven, but turning gradually into hell). A place of oppression, tears and unending suffering. Or maybe just a loss of going out with mates and all other pleasurable freedoms in life. the bride and I certainly fully expect many difficulties and pains as we live together. We've already caused each other pain, even without either of us being unloving or “to blame”. Even the Bible talks about the troubles and trials of marriage (Prov. 19:13; 27:15-16; 21:9, 19; 25:24, Matt 19:10, 1Cor 7:28). the bride and I aren't going to enter hell through marriage either. Though painful times may come, they are all for our good and the good of the Church and given to us by God who is loving us – not by God who's abandoned us and is against us as in hell, so we have hope and joy in salvation whatever earthly pain may come. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. The LORD is my helper; what can man (or my spouse) do to me? (Ps 118:6)