I wanted to know; so I asked God. In all of the many marriages listed in Scripture, why is there not one instance (or is there?) where a couple is shown exchanging vows?
Interestingly, it was at a marriage that the first miracle of Jesus ever happened, as recorded in the Canon. John 2, describes specific details about that day, including that it was the third day from John the Baptist‘s announcement that Jesus is the Lamb of God. We are told that the marriage was held in Cana of Galilee. We are told that the mother of Jesus was there. All of those details are in the first verse. Verse 2, only states that both Jesus and His disciples were called to the marriage.
But immediately afterward, John says, ”And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.” Excuse me? Where’s the wedding? This is suddenly the description of the wedding reception, as we know it. In fact in chapter 19 of Revelation, John again mentions a marriage, but only in the sense of a supper. There, it is called the marriage of the Lamb and the supper of the great God.
Come to think of it, when another disciple describes marriage details, it too tells of a dinner. Of course, Matthew is quoting Jesus, who is teaching that the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king that “made a marriage for his son.” Those bidden to the marriage were told, ”Behold, I have prepared my dinner.” The menu is briefly described, followed by these words, ”Come unto the marriage.”
Then only two chapters later, in chapter 25, Matthew tells the famous parable of the ten virgins, where Jesus is again describing the kingdom of heaven. When the bridegroom arrives, the door is shut. There is no hint of wedding details beyond the closed door.
We could easily conclude that in these cases the focus of the story was not on the actual exchange of vows. And that is true. But let’s examine others. In fact, let’s back up to the very first wedding.
When God put Adam to sleep and made Eve, afterward He simply presented Eve to Adam. Adam only acknowledged that God designed and desired Eve to be his companion, his wife. Here’s all we have: ”And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. [Moses then declares this principle:] Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:22-25).
There is the perfect opportunity for all mankind to be informed throughout the ages about the moment of marriage. What we have, however, is Adam’s acknowledgement that the woman presented to him is God’s choice. Adam agrees to receive her as his wife. (Read my most recent article retitled “Hunters Weepers, Finders Keepers.”) In an act of praise and worship, Adam’s words proclaim the oneness of husband and wife: one flesh. He was enraptured with words of highest praise for what God had wrought for him personally. For that, He worshiped God. What we have is a moment of acceptance and praise and worship. This was their moment of marriage.
From that perspective, I more clearly understood the meeting of Rebekah and Isaac. She didn’t just slide down from the camel and go into the tent with Isaac to consummate the marriage. First, there was a period of testimony and praise for what God had done. It was an act of worship. (Read Genesis 24:62-67.)
There it is: an act of worship! It is a ceremony of praise without crippling expense. It is a wedding with the husband, the wife, the witnessing servant, and likely the observing host of Heaven, to say the least. It is set apart from the public wedding feast or banquet or supper.
When I recently shared my new understanding of marriage with a minister, he said that to accept that view, we would have to throw out the Bible and the spirit of prophecy (SOP). Maybe, I failed in explaining myself scripturally. I had stated that it is not the official marriage certificate a couple receives from the state that certifies one’s marriage. It is God, Himself. If only the document from the state certifies a marriage in God’s sight, then so-called marriages between any two persons or a mix of human and animal or other thing would qualify. We are all aware, and some painfully so, that in today’s world men are marrying men. Women are marrying women. Some are marrying their pet or robot or some thing. Do we really believe God must honor such unions?
You see, the minister told me that God honors our choices. I could not at the time adequately respond. I think I was a bit shocked at his abruptness. The exchange was brief.
But I wondered how it is that any Bible-believer can say that a divorce for anything other than adultery is still a marriage, although the two parties may each carry a copy of the state’s official divorce document. Yet, they cannot understand or accept that God can marry two individuals without the official stamp of civil approval. While there is a place for that official stamp in establishing a family or related household, it does not necessarily come with God’s honor. While God does allow our choices, He certainly does not necessarily honor them.
While we do not have to throw out Scripture or the SOP, we must have the same vantage point. We must understand that not every documented union is a sacred marriage in the sight of a holy God. We only need to read Ezra 10, to see that it does not even matter that children have been born from the union. Those who would truly worship God had to make serious reforms. And they had only three days (to appear in person and be fully decided) to untie themselves from their ungodly unions. They could not remain in sin and still offer worship that was acceptable to God.
It was in Ezra’s era and again is now time for marriage reform.
First, we must have the exact same starting point to exactly follow any directions from point A to point Z on any map. Or you can end up going in circles, like I did once. I received driving directions to an event I was to cover and publish. The problem was that the one who sent the directions never adjusted them from my starting point. He drove in from the Keys. I drove in from Orlando. The event was at a church location in between. It was an experience I would love to forget! Similarly, I believe the same is true for unions God never sanctified.
The point is, we do not have to throw out Scripture nor the Spirit of Prophecy. We only need to reorient ourselves to what marriage truly is. We must agree that marriage is so very sacred an affair that it is not recognized by God and is not recorded in the books of Heaven, unless it is ordained of God, unless God indeed put the two together.
It is only what God has joined together that no man may put asunder.
It is similar to baptism. Baptism, while it is often referred to as the date a person was born again, it is really only the date that the public was officially informed of a very private and sacred event. Privately and very sacredly, a person acknowledges he or she has had it all wrong. Privately, a person in their heart first confesses their sins to God and is willing to be changed and to live according to His plan for their lives. The baptism only allows the church officially to place that person’s name in the book of membership. But in Heaven, that person’s name has already been placed in the Lamb’s Book of Life.