I recently did a destination wedding in Bermuda. The husband was a Regional Director for Geico and the Bride was a Bank Branch Manager. In a foreign country, you need a local official to do the vows, pronounce them “husband and wife,” plus sign the license. Still, the couple wanted me to do as much of the ceremony as possible.
So, I did the welcome and prayer plus a message on the biblical foundation for marriage. I then explained that the local leader would be taking over, “But first,” I said, “I have some special vows to administer…
“Do you then David, faithfully promise in the presence of God in front of these witnesses to follow all of the instructions found in the ‘Banking Diva Maintenance Manual?” The groom stared at me speechless…his eyes as big as softballs. “I didn’t hear an answer,” I asserted. “Oh…I do—I DO!” he affirmed as everyone chuckled. “And to the bride, do you Leanne, faithfully promise in the presence of God and these witnesses to save a ton of money by switching to Geico?” People roared. “I DO, in fact I DID!” she said while laughing.
“Good,” I said, “I’ll now turn the ceremony over….”
To Vow or Not to Vow?
We’ve enjoyed watching the video of this little tease over and over. It has been quite popular on Facebook. Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t emphasize the importance of the actual vows in a wedding ceremony. It has become quite popular to rewrite them and create our own. A lot of couples do this. I allow that in my ceremonies, but always include more traditional, biblical commitments as well.
Well, first I’d ask why as well…why do we want to change or delete them? I would argue that the very reason for deleting/editing them is the purpose for having them! The CHALLENGE and maybe even FRIGHTEN us.
The Traditional Vows
Here’s a sample of the vows I use in my traditional service:
Do you then, __________________ (his FIRST name), faithfully promise and covenant before God, in the presence of these witnesses, to take ______________ (her FULL name) to be your lawful, wedded wife for as long as you both shall live, to love her cherish her, honor her, respect her and provide for her? (Goom’s answer)
And do you, __________________ (her FIRST name), faithfully promise and covenant before God in the presence of these witnesses, to take __________________ (his FULL name) to be your lawful, wedded husband for as long as you both shall love, to love him, cherish him, honor him, comfort him and respect him? (Bride’s answer)
Have the couple face each other and join hands.
Beginning with the bridegroom, would you please repeat after me:
“I, __________________ (his FULL name), take you __________________ (her FIRST name) to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. Thereto I pledge you my faith” [or, “I promise you this”]
And now the bride:
“I, __________________ (her FULL name), take you __________________ (his FIRST name) to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. Thereto I pledge you my faith” [or, “I promise you this”]
A Promise, Covered by a Promise
This is heavy. Let’s not minimize it!
In the presence of God and perhaps hundreds of witnesses, we’re saying we’ll care for, love, protect, serve and stick together till death!! No WONDER we want to change or eliminate this stuff! Wow!
But here’s the thing. These vows are Biblical. A survey of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 or Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5, etc., shows us that this is exactly what God expects. The good news is that He helps us fulfill them and honors us when we submit to that. As scary as they are, these vows are a promise covered by another promise from Jesus that he would always be with us (Matthew 28:20, etc.).
So if you’re married, refocus on your commitment and ask God to empower you as you live it out. If you’re not married, approach the possibilities with a sober reality of the serious nature of the vows you may take someday. In both cases–recognize that God has made the same commitment to you–for all eternity.
In His Love,