Dear family, friends, and honored man and woman, God has unusual ways of laying His hands upon His loved ones. He loved us in creation; He prepares a place for us in heaven that we can share eternity with him; He calls us home in His sovereignty and to Himself in death. In His loving care He gives us the joy of union with another of His children in the divine institution we call marriage.
Marriage was created, is strengthened, upheld, and sustained by his grace and love. I charge you who witness this union today to see it as a part of God’s work as Shepherd and Guardian of His people, and I charge you who come to be joined_________and_________ (man’s and woman’s names) to remember that the love of God is sufficient to sustain you through all the years ahead as you obey His principles as maturing Christians.
_________ (man’s name), will you have_________ (woman’s name) to be your wedded wife?
Will you covenant to love her in the midst of the everydayness of life? Will you share with her the responsibility of building a Christian home, and will you seek to join diligently with her in following God’s will for your life?
(Man answers: “I do,” or “I will.” Minister faces the woman and asks:)
Will you,_________ (woman’s name), have_________ (man’s name) to be your wedded husband? Will you covenant to love him in the midst of the everydayness of life? Will you share with him the responsibility of building a Christian home, and will you seek to join diligently with him in following God’s will for your life?
(Woman answers: “I do,” or “I will”.)
(Minister then asks:) Who gives this woman to be married to this man?
(Father, family member, or friend responds with “I do,” “We do,”or “Her mother and I do, “and joins the hands of the man and woman together and is seated.)
Minister: Before you receive one another, I want to bring you a challenge and a reminder from God’s Word. Proverbs 24:3–4 states: “By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches” (NASB).
The Bible speaks often of house and home. Jesus spoke of salvation as entering your house today when he dealt with Zaccheus. Paul spoke of the conversion of the household of the Philippian jailer when he said, “You and your house shall be saved.” Joshua related his commitment to following the Lord with his entire family when he stated: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The home becomes a picture for eternity when the promise is made in Revelation 21:3: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them” (NIV). As you begin your home building, remember that God is the Architect; you are the builders. How do you build a home on the rock—one that will stand the test of time, storm, and adversity?
You start with a firm foundation. It takes God to make a marriage. The Greek word for home is “the shrine of the gods.” Your home, because of your personal relationship to Jesus Christ, will not be a “shrine of the gods” but the abiding place of the one true God. Every person ought to have three homes: a church home, a family home, a heavenly home. That is a great and firm foundation. With Christ as the foundation of your home, you can build a home that will last as long as you do.
You will continue building your home by raising good walls of communication. Most marriages that end in trouble do so, not because of blowouts but slow leaks. Many active marriage counselors consider the failure of proper communication between husband and wife to be a major cause of family problems. Let me urge you to take time for communication. Take time to understand your partner. Take time to speak in love. Take time to be a good listener. Take time to unconditionally accept your mate, even as you discover frailties and weaknesses. Rejection is one of the greatest fears of persons. Communication means acceptance. Build strong walls of communication.
You complete your house by adding the roof of commitment. A commitment so strong that separation is not even an option. Someone has said that wars are not won by evacuation. Neither are homes built in isolation. Whatever happens to shake your love, remember you have a commitment. Love is a promise more than a feeling. It is an activity directed toward another person. It is a conscious act of the will. James reminded us that faith was something that showed up in activity. Love is a choice. It is an action more than a reaction. As you make your commitment with this kind of understanding, you remove cheap sentimentality and put reality, effort, and discipline into your developing life and love.
Thus, with the firm foundation of God at the very heart of your home, the walls of communication, and the roof of commitment—that is wisdom. As Solomon said, “A house is built.”
Believing you desire this kind of home, are you ready to receive one another as a gift from God and exchange your vows of commitment?
(Couple answers,“We are.”)
_________ (Woman’s name), I leave my father and mother and commit all that I am to you. By God’s Spirit and day-by-day choosing, I will love you as Jesus loves His church. This means that I will sacrificially lay down my rights and my life for you. I will continue to die to my individuality, likes, preferences, ideas, opinions, and plans as a single man. For we shall be one.
I will provide for you and protect you from pressures and dangers and in areas of weaknesses by setting boundaries for you.
As head I will provide loving leadership and be priest and prophet—going before God on your behalf and speaking forth what God tells me.
I will also choose to love you as I love my own body, recognizing that you are my partner in marriage and that we are heirs together of the grace of life.
I shall let you in on my troubles and problems, so we may face them together.
I will live with you in an understanding way, always seeking to make certain that my ways of showing you love are the ways you need to be loved.
I will honor you, be faithful to you, and cherish you as long as we both live.
_________ (man’s name), I will leave my father and mother and cleave to you. I will become one with you. I will be submissive to you in the fear of the Lord, out of my love, respect, and total trust in you. I will depend totally on the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit to work these things out and to fill me with all the love I need to be your completion, your wife.
I will support and uplift you by word and deed by putting more emphasis on what you are than what you aren’t.
I will seek to respond to you in love as I would to Jesus Himself. I will comfort and encourage you, pray for you, and challenge you. I will strive to keep our communication open and honest and trust God to give me a humble and forgiving heart.
I desire to be a crown to your head and bring honor to your name.
I will cherish you as God’s gift to me, whose value is immeasurable.
Exchange of Rings:
(Minister receives the rings from the best man, maid/matron of honor or ring bearer, and states:)
The rings which you will place on the finger of your loved one was fashioned in a circle which does not end, signifying the quality of your marriage, a love that has a sense of eternity in it. This public symbol of your love and commitment to each other shall be a sign of joy.
_________ (man’s name), will you take this ring and place it on_________’s(woman’s name) hand and repeat these words after me?
With this ring I thee wed, and with it I give thee my love and devotion. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
_________ (woman’s name), will you take this ring and place it on_________’s(man’s name) hand and repeat these words after me?
With this ring I thee wed, and with it I give thee my love and devotion. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Minister: Would you join me in prayer?
(Couple kneels or stands and the minister places his hands on theirs as he prays. After the prayer, the couple stands and faces the minister who says:) And now, in recognition of the vows you have uttered, the commitment you have made to building a Christ-honoring home, in accordance with the laws of this state, and as an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it gives me the greatest of pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife, Mrs. and Mrs._________; and may God richly bless you.
(Bride receives her bouquet, and the couple leads the recessional.)