A Royal Wedding Images THE Royal Wedding

Each human marriage is an image of the divine union between Christ and the church.

Harry and Meghan formed a covenant through the making of vows. Jesus Christ forms a covenant relationship of marriage with his bride, the church. The covenant unites not only the man and woman but also their families. Harry and Meghan made covenant vows before God and witnesses that united them in a one-flesh union. That covenant now unites two families not previously related by blood.

 

The audience viewing the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, according to some reports, was 1.9 billion people. People may have been attracted by the beauty and pageantry of the ceremony as the son of the future king married a stunning TV star. Yet, there is perhaps more than the beauty and pageantry that attracts us to weddings. The wedding of a man and woman is the very image of the union of Christ and his bride, the church.

A scholar told me some years ago that even though churches in Europe are often nearly empty for worship, couples still wanted to have their wedding in a church. There is something about a church wedding that draws us. That could be because a wedding is more than a human event.

Early in the service, the Dean of Windsor read the purposes of marriage one of which links the marriage to the divine union of Christ and the church, “It[marriage] is given that as man and woman grow together in love and trust, they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind, as Christ is united with his bride, the Church.” The Book of Common Worship used by many Protestant pastors explains the link between human marriage and the divine union this way, “God gave us marriage as a holy mystery in which a man and a woman are joined together, and become one, just as Christ is one with the church.” This purpose of marriage is drawn from Paul writing in Scripture,

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

Paul is quoting Genesis 2 here, where God instituted marriage. Then Paul links the marriage of a man and woman to Christ’s union with the church. Protestant author and pastor John Piper observes that when God instituted the marriage of a man and a woman in Genesis 2, “he didn’t roll dice, draw straws, or flip a coin as to how they might be related to each other. He patterned marriage very purposefully after the relationship between his Son and the church, which he had planned from all eternity.”

Consider the ways that the wedding of a man and woman images Christ’s union with the church. A wedding is a covenant-making service. Harry and Meghan formed a covenant through the making of vows. Jesus Christ forms a covenant relationship of marriage with his bride, the church. The covenant unites not only the man and woman but also their families. Harry and Meghan made covenant vows before God and witnesses that united them in a one-flesh union. That covenant now unites two families not previously related by blood. Catholic theologian John Bergsma highlights the differences between Scripture’s use of contracts and covenants, “Contracts exchange properties… covenants bind persons. Contracts were based on mutual self-interests; covenants required selfless loyalty…and sacrificial love…contracts were temporary; covenants were permanent…” You can make a contract to sell your cow, but only covenant vows create a marriage.

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