The marriage covenant is an eternal promise based on the truth of God’s Word, rooted in Christ’s love, and centered on His steadfast character.
*Marriage as a picture of the Gospel relationship:
The Bible teaches that marriage was designed by God to be a picture of the relationship Jesus has with those who love Him (Ephesians 5:29-33). Each of us has turned away from right relationship with the God who loves us. God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, clearly reveals our selfishness. By loving others more than the LORD, lying, hating, lusting, and refusing to forgive, we have pushed ourselves away from relationship with Him.
If we come to God trying to earn His love or to deserve a place in Heaven because of our good works, we will never know Him. Our sin has separated us from Jesus, and we deserve only God’s judgment in Hell. However, He wants us to experience His love and a close relationship with Jesus that marriage was designed to depict.
The good news is that Jesus, God in the flesh, came to earth. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead! As a Groom coming to claim His bride, Jesus will come again for all those who have turned from sin and put their trust in Him. Jesus gave His lifeblood because of His desire to become united with those He loves. He paid the bride price with His own life. Husbands likewise are called to serve their wives by dying to themselves and sacrificing for the good of their wives. Wives are called to respond in self-giving love by cooperating with their husbands – that together the couple might be ministry partners for the Master.
Jesus calls you today to join His Bride, the Church. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you, Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20). Jesus has promised to return to bring His Bride home to be with Him forever. Are you in right relationship with God? Have you fully trusted your heart and life to Jesus? In an act of bold love, He invites you to do so today.
*Bridal party walking down the center aisle in participation:
Walking down the center aisle is based on a tradition from the Bible. The LORD made a promise to bless Abraham, who was a forefather of Jesus Christ. In Genesis 15:9-21, the LORD instructed Abraham to sacrifice several animals, cutting them in half and laying them on the ground. Two parties making a covenant would confirm their agreement by walking between these two halves of an offering that had been split in two. In Genesis 15, only the LORD walked down the center aisle, because it was His sole responsibility to unconditionally uphold His promise to Abraham’s descendants. Abraham was asleep. We walk down the center aisle today as a symbol of involvement, either as participants or witnesses, in this marriage covenant.
*Vows as terms of our covenant:
In the Bible, the LORD made many promises to His people. God is always faithful, perfectly upholding His vows to love and provide. In Exodus 20, after the LORD delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God and His people exchanged vows. We call these vows the Ten Commandments. In verse 1, He begins by stating who He is and reminding His people that He set them free from their bondage. The ten commands that follow are the vows that His loved ones promised to uphold in the relationship that they would enjoy with their God. Today, the New Testament provides many examples of promises that the Lord Jesus made to His Bride, the Church. Our vows today are the terms of our life-long covenant relationship with each other.
*Rings as visual symbols of our lifetime commitment:
We have chosen to exchange circular wedding rings as a continual sign of our marriage, serving both to announce to others and to remind us of our vows. A circle is a shape without starting or ending point. It symbolizes the eternal nature of God, who is without beginning or end. The Trinity – the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – has always existed and always will (Genesis 1:26). This eternal God created marriage (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6). He empowers us to remain faithful in our marriage, as He has first been faithful to us. 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”
*Salt covenant as a sign of irreversible partnership:
In biblical times, when two people wanted to make a covenant promise of loyalty, each would take some salt from a pouch carried on the belt and sprinkle it into the other’s pouch. Both would then shake their pouches, intermingling forever the grains of salt. Just as the individual grains of salt could never be taken back, their covenant would never be broken. The LORD also included salt in covenants that He made with His people (Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5).
*Unity candle as a symbol of our new united family:
The Bible records that Eve first introduced sin’s darkness into the human heart (Genesis 3:6). However, God also brought Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, through a descendant of Eve, a woman named Mary (John 8:12; 9:5; Luke 1:30-35). As followers of Jesus, we have been called by Christ to be light in this world (Matthew 5:14-16). Because they brought us into the world, we have chosen to have our biological mothers light candles representing all of our family relationships. In a beautiful way, we leave and cleave to each other, forming a new family of our own, which includes our extended families. The unity candle in the center represents this union of two people and two lives joined by Jesus Christ to become one.