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June 28, 2014 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 

The wedding is over and I am back home at the computer.  Last weekend the family participated in the wedding of my first grandson, Lieutenant William H. Scarle, IV, USN.  It was a delightful occasion.  My daughter, the Rev. Grace Scarle officiated.  I was privileged to offer the prayer of blessing.  My other two grandsons were in the wedding party.  We were billeted in a rented house in St. Augustine with all the amenities one could imagine.

The wedding service was not held in a church building, but it was without doubt a Christian service.  The situation brought to mind the distinctiveness of a Christian wedding in contrast to the general culture.  It was the intention of both the bride and groom that this be so, and my daughter made sure this was clear to all who attended.  If you detect a hint of parental pride in this statement, it is only because it is there.

The Christian wedding first of all sees marriage as a reflection of the relationship of the God of Israel to the Chosen People.  It is the establishment of a covenant.  This carries over into the Christian idea of marriage as the Church becomes the bride of Messiah in the new covenant.

There are several distinctive characteristics of this concept of marriage.  The first is that it is permanent.  It is “till death do us part.”  This is the relationship established between Messiah and the believer, and since the family of believers is a “forever family” the relationship is eternal.

The second feature of the Christian marriage commitment is the idea of mutual submission.  It is stated with precision in Ephesians 5:21 which is the title sentence for Paul’s discussion of marital obligations – “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Messiah.”  Contrary to Frank Sinatra, Christian marriage is not “I did it my way.”  It is a covenant obligation to do it our way.  It is a commitment to grow together in every aspect of life.

A third component of Christian marriage is a commitment to aid each other in spiritual growth.  The third party in a Christian marriage is the Lord himself.  Spiritual maturity is always a goal to be reached.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on …” This carries into the parenting task if there are children.

This article is too short for a full exposition of the covenant nature of Christian marriage, but enough has been said to indicate that the concept is at some distance from the purely secular ideas of our time.

Grace was standing close enough to a conversation between the some of the young woman attending the wedding to overhear their remarks.  One sentence caught her attention.  One of the girls said with some reflection, “I think when I get married I’ll have a civil service.”  I can sympathize with that.  The positive side of such a remark is that she noticed the difference.

The reality however is that our culture has been built on the solidity of our families.  And our families have been built on a Christian idea of what the home should be, even if we have not achieved it very well.  This is changing.  If you want to see the results of this change just look around.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at  END-whs