My column in today’s Greenville News concerns marriage, and its joy, importance and gravity.  Whatever you believe about marriage, please take it seriously.

Last month, beneath the low clouds of a cool October sunset, my brother and his fiancee were wed. The wedding took place at Lindsay Plantation, in Taylors, SC. Friends and family sat in folding chairs, in the lush green grass of a hill-top, while a violinist played softly, the sound carried on such faint wind as there was. Nature itself seemed to pause and watch with bated breath.

Our father performed the ceremony, which was brief but beautiful as traditional and personal vows were exchanged, along with rings. There was laughter during the sacrament of marriage, and there was also the solemnity of covenant.

And then, as there should always be, there was a party. Theirs was beneath great chandeliers in the former horse barn, open on each end so that cool air could flow through and caress the well-dressed, if slightly over-heated, guests as we ate, talked and danced the evening away. I spun Jan around the floor a while, reminded in the flush of emotion why I love her so much, and have for so long. Our four children were there also and visited with family from far away. I believe that young people should view holy things from time to time. They should be reminded that these things matter immensely.

It was just the way a wedding should be. A reminder of both gravity and levity. A promise and a joke. A prayer and a dance. And all of it witnessed and supported by those who love them both. Everyone should have such a wedding. No drama; all joy and light and hope. I think it was good because they both know that the wedding is simply the gateway. It’s the marriage that matters.

Nevertheless, we live in a world in conflict over marriage. Who should be allowed to marry? Who should do it? What defines it? What preserves and what destroys it? These are terribly important questions. But I won’t attempt to answer them; not now. It’s likely you can guess my personal beliefs, but that isn’t my point.

What I will do is this. I’ll make a plea. Whatever you, dear reader, believe about marriage don’t trivialize it. Don’t use it as a weapon or a form of theater. Never make it small or insignificant.

Whatever you believe about marriage, or who should marry, please, please make your marriage a bond that has consequence. Make it a thing of absolute commitment, with no wavering. Never say ‘we’ll try it and see how it goes.’ Any such thought is simply a path for escape; a way to let insignificant issues drive a wedge wider and wider between you and yours.

Whatever we end up believing about marriage, as a culture, I hope that we remember that it is a force for stability; a pillar on which civilization is balanced. The less certain it is, the more precarious that balance.

Whatever we believe about it, never forget that the children of a union, born or adopted, count on that marriage. It is their safe haven, the kingdom that is a family. And divorce is a civil war, a bloody revolution, a wild-fire. And the children may never full recover, whether they were young or old when the cataclysm occurred.

No matter our definition of marriage, it cannot be a thing entered, or abandoned, lightly, as if it were the prom or a drive in the country. It must have what I saw in my brother’s wedding. It must have promises taken seriously and laughter and joy taken even more seriously. It must be a feather as heavy as a stone.

Jesus used the metaphor of marriage extensively, and referred to the Church as ‘The Bride of Christ,’ and to himself as ‘the Bridegroom.’ This was no small thing, no casual use of language. His love was demonstrated in his sacrifice for all who would be his bride, in full expectation that she would be devoted to him wholly.

At Stephanie and Stephen’s wedding, there was great happiness all around. And I thought, for a minute, that if this was a prequel for heaven, some people might be in grave danger of not enjoying heaven at all.

Because to grasp the staggering joy of the covenant requires recognition of both the weight of the promise and the levity of the party. Our culture has to keep both in mind if marriages, and weddings, are to continue to be the things of absolute value they were intended to be.


0 0 votes
Article Rating