We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19
WHY CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE IS DIFFERENT
I love weddings. And I especially love getting the opportunity to officiate them as a minister of the church. I love celebrating with friends and family as two people join lives together. I love hearing love stories and seeing boys become men and the look of a bride on her special day.
This weekend I will get to participate in one of those weddings. I have the honor of standing before friends and family as I officiate the wedding of my wife’s younger sister and my friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law.
I am excited to participate in the wedding because I love weddings. I am excited to participate in the wedding because we are celebrating my sister-in-law and my friend. But I am most excited to participate in the wedding because it is the bringing together of two Christian souls.
Weddings are not exclusive to Christians, because marriage is not exclusive to Christians. Marriage transcends culture and time unlike nearly anything else. It has existed for millennia in a variety of cultures. And while every wedding is special in its own right, Christian weddings are different. Because Christian marriage is different.
Christian marriage is different because Christians understand love in a way that others can’t. Christians love because God first loved us.
Without God first loving us, we don’t truly understand the full potential of what love can really be. We can’t understand. We have to be born again. Our eyes have to be opened. Our hearts have to be made new.
Yes, non-Christians can love. I’m not denying that. But a Christian can love differently. Because a Christian gripped by the gospel of Christ has been transformed by a radical love. A love that went to the cross. A love that is overwhelming and captivating. A love that is life-changing.
A Christian understands what true love really looks like. A Christian recognizes that true love was put on full display 2,000 years ago when God took on flesh and came to die for the sins of his people. A Christian understands that true love sacrifices everything.
And as we begin to come to grips with that love, it opens our eyes. Through the power of the gospel, a Christian has a greater capacity and awareness to love others well. And it is through the power of the gospel that a Christian has a greater capacity and awareness to love well within a Christian marriage.
Because I have been transformed by the gospel, I have been given a new heart. A heart that is capable of thinking about someone other than myself. A heart that allows me to love my wife more and more every day.
Because I have been transformed by the gospel, I would lay down my life for my wife. I love her more than I love my own life, and would be willing to sacrifice it for her well-being.
Because I have been transformed by the gospel, I am aware of my sin. I know who I am. I know the inclinations of my heart. And because she has been transformed by the gospel, my wife bestows grace upon me time and time (and time and time and time and time…) again.
Because I have been transformed by the gospel, I am increasingly aware of how much I have been forgiven. I am aware that grace has been freely given to me even though nothing in me deserved any of it. And I am able to reflect that same grace onto my wife when she falls short (much less frequently than I do).
And the beauty of this gospel love is that it is the perfect picture of what marriage is supposed to look like. Because Christian marriage is founded upon this gospel cornerstone. Husbands love their wives in the way that Christ loves the church. A Christian husband sacrifices everything for the sake of his bride. He’s willing to lay down his life so that she might live.
Likewise, Christian wives fulfill the role of the church in the great marriage relationship, submitting to and respecting the leadership of the husband. She follows him as he follows Christ. All the while, the gospel continues to transform their hearts and gives them a greater capacity and awareness to love.
Christian marriage is different because Christian love is different. Christian love is not self-generated, but rather is a reflection of the love that God has poured out on his people.
Christian marriage is different because it has been transformed by the cross. It is not self-seeking, but rather self-sacrificing.
Christian marriage is different because it is less about the love that two people have for each other and more about the love that God has for each of them.
This weekend, I’ll preach the gospel in the wedding ceremony. I’ll remind the bride and groom that the most important love for their marriage isn’t the love that they feel for each other in that moment. It’s the love of the Father. The love that gave everything. The love that went to the cross.
I’ll remind them that feelings and emotions and circumstances may change, but the love of God never changes and never fails.
I’ll remind them that God loved us first.
And that we love only because He first loved us.