I.) Opening Prayer — Mr. Mark Chambers
Father we thank you that we’ve been invited to participate in this joyous occasion, the uniting of Andy and Bernice in Holy Matrimony. We’ve come to witness the ceremony, to celebrate with them, and to ask for your blessings on them. We pray that you would strengthen them for all that lies ahead, especially in this day and age when the forces of darkness are being brought to bear on your church. We ask that their love for and commitment to each other would grow as it remains grounded in their mutual love and commitment to you. That you would own their hearts and minds all their days and ensure their fidelity to you and your holy purpose. That within the confines of the roles of marriage that You have laid out in your holy word they would place the needs of the other above their own. And finally that you would bless them with an abundance of Godly seed, that the church might be filled with Christian warriors who from their youth are dedicated to godly dominion and conquering this apostate nation for our Lord and King Jesus Christ.
II.) Marriage Homily
When God said that Husbands were to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, and when our Sovereign God went on to command that wives are to submit to their husbands at that point God confirmed a law order for Marriage that had already been in place for a millennium among God’s people. What this means is that Marriage is not based on schmaltzy notions of sentimentalism and Harlequin Romance. Nor is marriage anchored in effervescent and mercurial feelings. Marriage is structured and ordered by a law structure ordained by God wherein husband’s are to serve their wives by leading them as that service is consistent with God’s law and wherein wives are to submit to their husbands wherein that submission required is consistent with God’s law.
Note that neither the Husbands service, nor the wife’s submission are absolutized. Both must exist and move in terms of God’s overall law order. Husbands have no authority to be either Tyrants or Wimps and wives have no authority to be either Shrews or Doormats. If Husbands operate outside of God’s law order in relation to his wife, his wife is duty bound to oppose him. The same goes in the other direction.
For centuries the short hand label for this biblical marriage social order has been “patriarchy,” which means literally “rule of the Father.” That Scripture everywhere supports patriarchy is seen from Genesis to Revelation. God who rules over all is described as Father and entrusts covenantal representations with fathers and husbands.
Now Patriarchy has fallen on some hard times, what with the advent of feminism and egalitarianism. Indeed the Church in the West, in many quarters, is all in a tizzy to find some other paradigm that is more “fair” and is more “wise” than what God has provided. The consequence of this search to replace the God of the Bible’s authority for structuring marriage with a different god’s authority for structuring marriage has resulted in the wreckage of the family in the West with the residual flotsam and jetsam of broken marriages, single parent families, and confused children.
The cure for all this breakage is found in a return to biblical patriarchy. In Patriarchy we find that the Christian faith gives us structure that is characterized by Love, Hierarchy, and Suitability
I.) Patriarchy is defined by love (Ephesians 5)
Interestingly it is Christ’s sacrificial love for His Church that is used as the model here for husbands. Here the Lord Christ is said to have gave Himself up for the Church.
Of course this is a shorthand reference to Christ’s death on the Cross for the sins of His people. Just as the Lord Christ served the Church in solving the Church’s sin problem by His death, so Husbands are to so love their wives that they sacrificially surrender themselves for their wives.
We should find it fascinating that the inspired Apostle would invoke the death of Christ for the Church as a model for a husband’s love and service for and unto His wife. The crucifixion is the integrative point for all of Scripture. This love of God in Christ, taking upon Himself, on the Cross, the wrath of the Father, as deserved by the Church, becomes the model for patriarchy. In His Cross work for the Church Christ did not consider His own needs but the needs of his Bride. In the Cross Christ provided for His bride the approval with God that she did not have. In the Cross Christ received the hostility of God that would have otherwise have fallen upon His bride. In the Cross Christ answered all the demands of God’s law that His bride could not meet. In the Cross Christ brought His bride underneath the safety of His wings and provided shelter from the storm of a loving God who provided Christ to be the Church’s husband. Christ did for His bride everything that His bride could not do. The Lord Christ loved His Church and gave Himself for it.
This selflessness, this obedience unto death, this compassion to do for others what they cannot to for themselves is the model set forth for Biblical patriarchy. And yet, we are still told that patriarchy is arcane, oppressive, and so must be shelved in favor of other marriage models that are reflections of the bizarre and unseemly.
II.) Patriarchy is defined by Hierarchy (Ephesians 5)
The hierarchy is found in the explicitly stated requirement that, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”
If modern man was not offended by what was already said he certainly has his knickers in a twist over this statement. Quit contrary to modernity’s lust for a Jacobin egalitarianism where everyone is equally the same thus assuring that each and all of us descend to a lowest common denominator sameness what patriarchy teaches is that all of life, marriage included, has hierarchy. This hierarchy is not absolute but is governed by God’s law word. Husbands are to be the authority covering over the wife even as Christ is the authority covering over the Church.
That men have hierarchy authority over their wives and families is not based on the fact that men are innately superior to their wives. Such a view would be a sign of some kind of mental distemper. That men have authority over their wives is only based on the fact that men are better at being men then women are at being men and part of what it means to be a man is to serve one’s wife and family by exercising authority. This God ordained authority is wielded by the husband with a selflessness that is looking out for the best for wife and family. It is to that authority that wives are to submit just as the Lord Christ submitted to the authority of the Father during the incarnation.
Notice the implied “harmony of interests” motif here. In patriarchy there is the presupposition of a harmony of interest. The husband and wife think not only of their own needs but of the needs of one another. As a minister for over 25 years now I can tell you that when marriages break down they most often break down when the “harmony of interests” is exchanged for a “conflict of interest” model where husband and / or wife begin to think the marriage is about themselves as opposed to being about the glory of God and the extension of the Kingdom of Christ.
III.) Patriarchy is defined by Suitability (Genesis 2)
This is what God said in Genesis
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Now, it stands to reason that this woman who was to be suitable for Adam found an Adam that in turn was suitable for her. This is just to say that Adam and Eve were a fit. They were quite literally made for each other. First of course they were a fit in the sense that they understood that they were God’s creatures and were beholden to Him. In our language today we might say that they shared a common faith. No marriage should be entered into where man and wife do not share a common understanding of their shared Christian faith. Indeed Scripture forbids it for Christians when it forbids unequal yoking.
But the correspondence, — or suitability if you prefer — between our first parents of course only began with Adam and Eve’s common faith — a common faith that found each of them trusting in God at each turn.
But beyond this common faith were other commonalities. They were related and yoked in other ways. After all this was a woman who was, in Adam’s own words, “Bone of my Bone, and Flesh of my Flesh.” Adam and Eve mirrored one another. I suspect that Adam and Eve corresponded to each other in the way that they looked and in their mannerisms, in their likes and dislikes. They not only shared a faith and a bed but they shared common delights, common palates, common speech patterns, and common characteristics.
Rudyard Kipling caught something of what I am getting at in terms of the need for commonalities in uniquely Christian marriage that is never less than a common faith but is always more than a common faith when he wrote,
The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk–
I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face, the eyes, the mouth,
But not the soul behind.
If this is true of a stranger within the gate how much more true of a stranger within a marriage?
Dr. Clarence Macartney, a well known conservative Reformed Minister from my Grandparent’s generation put this time-tested concept, if also time-worn idea, in a sermon he preached on Marriage and family life. Macartney preached,
“Love imagines that it can overleap the barriers of race and blood and religion, and in the enthusiasm and ecstasy of choice these obstacles appear insignificant. But the facts of experience are against such an idea. Mixed marriages are rarely happy. Observation and experiences demonstrate that the marriage of a Gentile and Jew, a Protestant and a Catholic, an American and a Foreigner has less chance of a happy result than a marriage where the man and woman are of the same race and religion….”
I know that Andy and Bernice share the kind of commonalities that the Lordship of Christ anticipates for a uniquely Christian marriage. They are not strangers to one another in terms of suitability. They share a common understanding of their common faith. They share a worldview.
They each are
They come from similar family cultures and backgrounds and they share a common people group. They are suitable for each other.
May God and His Christ favor us with a return again of Biblical patriarchy in order to heal the brokenness in our families and our people. The West will only be rebuilt, one marriage at a time, as those marriages turn to Christ and embrace God’s family order of patriarchy.