Bearing Witness to Christian Marriage (Third Witness)
Over the last few years, our church and, indeed, our nation, has been in a debate regarding the nature of marriage. To say the least, at times the conversation has been contentious if not shrill. What is behind all of the emotions regarding marriage is a question of what it means to give oneself to another for life, what it means to ask God’s blessing on something — particularly a union of two people, and how all of this relates across the boundaries of church and state. In a word, marriage is complicated.
The images of marriage are powerful and profound. A few months ago, I was in the Las Vegas airport and in the midst of slot machines and such, I spotted this ad: “Shotgun Weddings by the Gun Store.” I found myself wondering, what message about marriage does this image send? Each image, and in reality, every marriage, bear witness to the presuppositions and values of the community gathered.
Our church now bears witness to marriage between two persons regardless of sexual orientation. Our witness is to living into agape love — sacrificial love — that is perfectly found between Christ and the church. Our witness is that love is the essential ingredient. And like human sexuality, love is a mystery that will never be fully understood.
Today, we live in a society in which lifelong commitments to love and fidelity through marriage are declining. I hear more frequently of individuals having children without the bonds of marriage. It is time for us to bear witness to the values of Christian marriage. This witness is all about faithfulness and love. It is all about fidelity. It is all about the way of Jesus. And it can never be reconciled with brides with shotguns and pistols. Let us bear witness to a love that bears all things, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Let us bear witness to union in Christ’s eternal love.