(Photo by Ben and Kadin Godwin)
Marriage: A Reflection of Christ
By Zelda Dominguez
I love everything about weddings, from the engagement to the day they say “I do.” I’ve helped many brides and enjoyed doing it. This past month I’ve been on a quest to find some specific things for my friend’s wedding reception and have been assisting in a few other ways. I was so focused on each task, trying to get it done in time and I forgot about everything else. This is the way we all are, I think, when it comes to preparing for the BIG day. We are so into the plans, décor, traditions, but have we ever stopped to think about why do we do them?
Surprisingly, I found that the majority of wedding traditions date back to some bizarre and mostly superstitious origins. For instance, the bride’s bouquet use to consist of garlic and other aromatic herbs to ward off evil spirits. Not exactly the scent I would want at my wedding. It was also believed to be a preventive measure in contracting the plague. The wedding cake has been around since medieval times. It was originally made of wheat to symbolize fertility and prosperity, and part of the cake was thrown at the bride. Lastly, the garter toss originated in England and France where the guests would try to obtain a piece of the bride’s gown as good luck. To pacify the crowd and ease the bride’s mind, the groom began tossing out a piece of the bride’s wedding attire to distract the guests and make their getaway!
I don’t want to leave out the wedding dress! Majority of brides from the west wear white on their wedding day and the tradition (although barely a century old) has gained several connotations over the years. Before Victorian times, brides would marry in any color for the exception of black and sometimes white because they were colors of mourning. The 20 year old Queen Victoria’s choice to wear white in her 1840 wedding set a trend and soon it became a fashionable standard for brides to wear white. The color also represented wealth and luxury and it became elegant to wear white.
I remember my wedding day and being so excited walking down the aisle wearing my traditional white dress. I felt beautiful but, what it meant more importantly to me was that God be glorified. Personally, the white dress represented the Lord’s cleansing power in my life from sin (Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow, [Isaiah 1:18a, NLT]). Colossians 1:22 says, “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in his presence.” It also pictures the righteousness of Christ, described in Revelation 19:7-8, “Christ clothes his bride, the church, in his own righteousness as a garment of “fine linen, bright and clean.”
If you consider yourself a follower of Christ, marriage is a picture of the union between Jesus Christ and the church. This union is more than any fancy reception, food, destination, décor, music, bridal party, dress, and any other components and traditions of the wedding. When Christians marry, they are in a covenant relationship with one another. As the family and friends witness before God.
The Bible begins with a wedding (Adam and Eve) and ends in the book of Revelation with a wedding (Christ and the church). Marriage is God’s idea. The ceremony where vows are exchanged is more than just words. Something powerful takes place and the two become one. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.” Many couples do not take their vows seriously. Are these empty words of tradition or do they represent a genuine promise of commitment unto God? The answer will be seen in the couple’s marriage. The longevity and quality of your marriage depends upon it!
I have learned that we have an awesome opportunity and great responsibility to reflect Jesus to others in marriage. Christians ought to care deeply about the definition of marriage because the Bible relates marriage with the Gospel and teaches that God designed marriage to be a picture of His redeeming love and relationship with us – the Church. Many times the Old Testament mentions this covenant He made with the nation Israel and refers to them as the bride of the Lord. The New Testament references a new covenant through Jesus Christ and pictures the church as the bride of Christ.
So, whatever color you chose to wear, what traditions you want to include, first and foremost remember Gods picture of marriage. If you are a follower of Christ, then you are part of the Bride. You are betrothed to Jesus, your Bridegroom. When you marry, your union will mirror the true love Christ has for us. For marriage to function according to God’s ideal, believers in Christ need to marry believers. Both bride and groom represent the gospel and Christ’s everlasting love. Even after the wedding day, let your marriage continue to reflect and glorify Christ to others.