Dying Wedding Vows

Remember when “honor and obey” was a standard part of wedding vows? Then, the feminist movement said, “No way will I vow to obey my husband!” Today, you rarely hear a couple using this worthy vow to recognize and accept the roles and relationships God established in marriage (Genesis 2:22-24; 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:17).

Now, “till death do us part” is also being rejected. More and more couples are opting for such preemptive phrases as “for as long as our love shall last,” “until our time together is over,” and “for as long as our marriage shall serve the greatest good” (“Till Death Do Us Part” is Dying Out, Jennifer D’Angelo, FoxNews.com, July 22, 2005). The rationale offered is, “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.”

The same article noted that actor Brad Pitt considers his marriage to Jennifer Aniston a “total success” for having lasted five years. Rationalization does not change reality: after five years, their marriage ended in failure, not success.

When a husband and wife do not honor marriage for what God intends it to be—a life long union—they lay the foundation for marital failure. Add to that a distorted and selfish definition of love, and you have a recipe for trouble (Hebrews 13:4; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Ephesians 5:25-31; Titus 2:4). To vow “as long as love shall last” implies the person has no say in the matter; that somehow love decides when “it” will leave a marriage. No, love is a conscious decision of the heart that acts toward its object in good ways (in this case, the husband toward his wife, and vice versa). If love does not last it is because one or both parties decided to no longer love the other.

We should also note that wedding vows mean something; they are solemn commitments to bind oneself to another and to fulfill the obligations of a husband or wife. One such obligation is to honor the permanency of marriage. When marriage is not viewed as “till death do us part” it becomes increasingly easy to end it rather than solving the problem (with love). Vows must not be lightly made nor conveniently broken (Proverbs 20:25; Ecclesiastes 5:4-5). God says marriage is “Till death do us part,” regardless of the changing attitudes toward it (Matthew 19:4-6; Malachi 2:14-16).

Joe R. Price
via Huntington Park church of Christ
Shreveport, LA

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