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Words at the marriage altar: Are they sentimental promises or lifelong vows?

Wednesday, 01. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


A typical married couple who attends a wedding these days may gulp a little bit when they hear the modern made-up sentiments and promises gush across the lips of young couples…most of whom have already shacked up together for a year or two beforehand, just in case. (One might ask, “In case of what?”) And how is the Hollywood-style sentimental love that they express so dramatically going to be different, after the wedding?

Sentiments and promises can be added to the long standing well worded traditional vow of “to have and to hold, from this day forth, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, til death do us part,” but to replace the time honored well-honed wording of that vow could have some real problems. Even when couples nowadays do say this time-honored matchless traditional vow, what they actually mean, subconsciously, is, “forsaking not ALL others, I’m with you in health, and in wealth, and until it doesn’t feel so good anymore.”

Let’s think more deeply about what it is that we are actually doing here, at the marriage altar. Might the words below prove to be a better foundation to the time honored vow—at least to embrace these loyal thoughts in our hearts?

Underpinnings of a godly vow:

“I hereby commit before God and before these witnesses to plunge into this commitment to the vast unknown. I commit to circumstances and deep relational dynamics in all sorts of directions, whatever they become, of which I cannot now know or possibly imagine. Furthermore, I commit to this heretofore unknown life, for the rest of my life, with a person I barely know, and who is largely unknowable even over a lifetime, to himself/herself, let alone to me. Therein I commit myself to a specific small destiny, a specific “lot” in life, that I will not jettison, preferring another.

I will wholeheartedly accept this “lot” as God’s perfect design for my sanctification in both this life and the next. I am committing to one person, forsaking all others out of several billion possible choices, trusting God that this person was divinely brought specifically across my path at this juncture in 6,000 years of history, in this particular geographic setting, by God’s own hand, or else I would have been born in some other age and would have intersected with a different lifetime mate.

I acknowledge that to love God’s “lot” for me is to love His will for me, His version of my best self, and to submissively trust His destiny, perfected on my behalf for all time, IN the marriage, THROUGH the marriage, and BY the marriage. Only because I know YOU, God, do I have the courage to so utterly abandon myself to this commitment—for in it I commit myself afresh to You.”

Perhaps such a heartfelt commitment would send the divorce rate sprawling.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips