The Word on the Week

Humanist Wedding

In a week which produced a lack-lustre budget when the most significant thing seemed to be John O’Shea’s last minute equalising goal against Germany my eye caught sight of an account of a Humanist wedding.

I am always delighted to hear that our humanist friends are bucking the trend of simply living together and involving themselves in the old fashioned Christian ceremony of plighting ones troth to another for this life.

It appears that this was not just a one-off but that 800 or so will be tying the nuptial knot this year. So what do they do that is different?

Well the wedding dress, complete with veil, was a carbon copy of the time honoured custom. The groom, well scrubbed up for the occasion, looked slick in a smart suit. A Humanist celebrant was located and a selection of readings and love poems agreed.

All this seemed pretty familiar but then comes the “sand ceremony”! This involved the couples pouring yellow and green sand into a glass jar so that the particles mixed inseparably. Doubtless it would have the place of honour in the house for years to come a constant reminder of the vows taken for lifelong fidelity. Beats lighting a candle from a couple of other candles any day!

So what’s missing?

Well God is. He instituted Marriage before the fall, as being a bulwark against loneliness and the means by which the race is regenerated. It keys into the attraction of opposites and blossoms as a lifelong love affair.

In Scripture, families became the building blocks of society and from the 12 sons of Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel. These incorporated simple rules of engagement whereby the taking of foreign women as wives was forbidden. This maintained the purity of the bloodline giving us the genealogies culminating in the birth of Christ the Son of God by the Holy Spirit and the Son of Man as descended from King David – two natures in one person.

It was at a wedding that Jesus performed his first miracle (St John Chapter 2 verses 1-11). And it was in the context of holy living that St Paul restated the principle that Christians marry Christians (2 Corinthians Chapter 6 verse 14).

But the most fundamental difference between Christian marriage and all other forms is that it is intended to reflect the relationship between Christ and his Church. He is the groom and the church is the bride linked in an indissoluble union (Ephesians Chapter 5 verses 22-27). That’s why God hates divorce – amongst other things it breaks the union (Malachi Chapter 2 verse 16).

The Bible concludes with the glorious picture of the wedding feast of the Lamb (Jesus) with his bride (the church of the redeemed) Revelation Chapter 19 verses 6/7.

G. F. Handel encapsulated a flavour of the scene in the climax of his oratorio “Messiah” but the real thing is the Christian’s eager anticipation.

The jar of sand will run out but there is an eternal wedding banquet – Jesus invites you.