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

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

Renee EllisonApr 25, '21

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 (what the believer actually vows when marrying):

“I hereby commit before God and these witnesses to plunge into a commitment of the vast unknown. I commit to circumstances and deep relational dynamics in all sorts of directions, whatever they become, of which I can’t now know or possibly imagine.

“And 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.

“And therein commit myself to a specific small destiny/a specific lot in life, that I will not jettison, preferring another who later begins to look like an easier bet. 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, by God’s own hand, otherwise I would have been born in some other age, or would have intersected with a different lifetime mate, even in this age.

“For to love God’s lot for me is to love His will for me, His version of fashioning my best eternal self. I submissively trust His destiny perfected in my behalf for all time, in the marriage, through the marriage, and by the marriage. Only because I know You, Lord, do I have the courage to so utterly abandon myself to this commitment.”

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

For more on this topic of marriage:

  1. Click on the magnifying glass icon at the top right of any homeschoolhowtos.com page and type in marriage, for more than a dozen more blog posts and info about Renee's book of Wise Womanly Ways to Grow Your Marriage.
  2. For practical, godly advice that includes the physical aspects (especially for those like us who were blessedly and wholly inexperienced at that point), listen to Christian M.D. Ed Wheat's Before the Wedding Night.  Profound insights on the in's and out's of long-haul marriage and the marriage bed, it is came out in the early 1980s on two audio cassettes.  Listen to the physical part (81 minutes), privately and with total focus, as it is explicit and detailed.  Dr. Wheat (1926-2001) was a family physician for decades who counseled hundreds of couples before they married.  He learned the principles of love after he became a Christian, when his wife rejected both Christ and him. He scoured the Bible to learn how to win his wife's love in both ways, and made it his top priority. He had a wonderful marriage after that; his wife could hardly stand being alone in her old age after he died, she loved him so.
  3. Contact us to request Todd's page of info and tips for the groom on particular aspects re: the wedding day night.  Just enter groom tips as the message. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published