Saturday, my Husband and I attended a wedding. My friend Kelsey is a one-of-a-kind woman in her late 30s. She’s beautiful and scattered, talented and messy. Sometimes she makes me laugh and cry, both in the same sentence.
A few months ago she admitted, “I want a husband.”
This was a shocking announcement! What kind of man would be so extraordinary that he deserved my friend Kelsey? Who could love her “the way Christ loves the Church?” I prayed with a little skepticism.
As it turned out, God had just such a man picked out. Her uncomfortable loneliness was a gift of the Holy Spirit. (Sometimes God prepares us for change by making us emotionally itchy.)
The prescribed groom is perfect. I watched his joyous face as Kelsey walked down the aisle. This man had stepped up out of thousands. He craved the opportunity to love, cherish, protect, and honor my friend. I instantly loved him.
Now let me tell you why my Husband and I are still discussing their wedding vows.
We've attended many weddings, each one as unique as the bride and groom. The script is cemented in Christian culture and deviations are rarely desired. After the processional, with the wedding party in the front of the room, there is a moment of hushed silence. Then, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” and we’re on our way.
Prior to exchanging rings, there are vows. The wording varies a little between denominations. Essentially they include, “Will you give yourself in all love and honor, in want and plenty, in good times and bad times, in sickness and health, until you are separated by death?”
But that’s not what brides promised twenty-plus years ago. We used to say, “Will you commit to love, honor, and obey until you are separated by death?”
There is a lot at stake midway into the ceremony. Too much money has already been spent on clothes, cake, flowers, and photography. This is not the time to better define the terms of the marriage. (This should be covered during pre-marital counseling.)
I almost fell out of my seat when the pastor used the “obey word” when addressing Kelsey, as I happen to know that she really struggles with obedience. She parks in front of fire hydrants, goes the wrong way down the now-clearly-marked-one-way grocery aisles, and if Emily Post ever saw Kelsey’s house she would know that etiquette is optional.
Without batting even one of her beautiful long eyelashes, Kelsey said boldly, “I will.”
At some point in every ceremony, the pastor or priest gives a homily on marriage. It should reflect the values and ideals of the bride and groom, while honoring God who brought them together.
This pastor jumped right into the issue of godly submission between husband and wife, quoting from Ephesians. “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church, and he is the Savior of the body.” (Eph 5:22-23)
I wish more people understood what Paul was saying here. He isn’t suggesting that wives put up and shut up when they are being abused, neglected, or disrespected. He admonishes the men likewise: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her.”
Husbands are commanded to listen to God, model themselves after Jesus, and take their full responsibility to cherish, love, protect, encourage, and if necessary—die for their wives.
I have that kind of husband. Now, my friend Kelsey does too.
God is a really great matchmaker.
Sylvia Peterson is a former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of a new book, “The Red Door: Where Hurt and Holiness Collide,” which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.