I have had the unusual privilege, as a minister underneath although an attorney on the surface, of performing the marriage ceremonies uniting my daughter Melanie with Mr. Michael Simpson (July 1997) and my son Jeremy with Miss Kristy Lang (August 1998). Each ceremony involved appropriate personal remarks, but both included my own biblical meditation from which the following thoughts are excerpted.
* * *
Even Paradise is incomplete if a fellow is by himself. At least, that was God’s opinion about Adam’s situation. So God made Adam a “help meet” for him, as the King James Version put it in 1611. When Adam saw Eve, he let out an exclamation — presumably in Hebrew — which must have meant something like “Wow!” God had “done good,” as some of my wife’s high school English students would say.
Adam now had a “help-meet.” But there is no suggestion in the text of Genesis that Adam was obtaining a servant, or that Eve’s significance was anything less than phenomenal. This word translated “help” actually means “strength,” “support” and “stay.” It is the same Hebrew word found in the Psalms, where it refers to God who is our “strength.” The word “meet” means “suited” or “appropriate,” and it suggests a mirror reflection, or something which perfectly corresponds to something else.
As husband and wife, you will complement and complete each other. Not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally and in every way. The differences in an orchestra make harmony possible. Differences also make the sweet music of marriage. To cherish and value those differences is a major key to a happy marriage.
Continue to see in each other’s strengths the answer to your own areas of weakness. See in each other’s weaknesses the opportunity to lovingly contribute your strengths. If you treasure the infinite variety, which you will continue to discover as long as you live, you will discover a bubbling spring of unending pleasure and delight for all the years of your life.
The bond of marriage is intended by God for your mutual joy; for your help and comfort in prosperity and adversity, and, if it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord.
Marriage provides you a safe and permanent sanctuary in which to discover yourselves and each other. Within its sacred precincts, you will be free to learn and to grow, to make mistakes and to make amends. In its shelter, you can laugh and tease and play. In this holy relationship, you can be totally honest and open with each other — without embarrassment or criticism or self-consciousness. You can be yourselves.
This relationship is God’s gift to you, an abiding place of refuge, where you may nourish one another and nurture your mutual relationship, where you can reach for the stars and keep your feet on the ground, where you can blossom into the full potential God has planted in each of you as unique individuals. Indeed, marriage is not to be entered into lightly, but reverently, deliberately and in accordance with its divine purposes.
Your successful marriage will require three special persons — each of you plus God. You enter your marriage as good friends as well as lovers, and that is a special advantage. You also enter this union with your lives entrusted to the Heavenly Father; your personal faith in Jesus Christ his Son and your Savior; your daily walk illuminated and guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of the Risen Christ.
I charge you both to continue to make God the foundation and the center of your life together. Allow him to shape your values, to channel your energies, to form your attitudes, to control your thoughts and deeds. Give God first place in your life — your plans, your finances, your time. Do not toss him the scraps or leftovers. Offer him the first and best you have.
All that you have and are is God’s gift to you. Make each day of your lives a “thank-you” to him in return. There will be green pastures and still waters, and sometimes the valley of the shadow of death. But God is a faithful shepherd, and he will always be your guide.
“Gracious and ever-living God, you have created us male and female in your image. Look mercifully upon this man and this woman who come seeking your blessing, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they have made here tonight; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (From the Book of Common Prayer.)