Boldness And The Risky Business Of Marriage?

The following 'Wedding Homily' is posted with the permission of the Bride and Groom.  May the Lord give to the Hoffers, grace, peace, and steadfastness within the estate of marriage.  

Text:  Hosea 2:18-23

Photo Credit: Alyssa's Photography
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Joshua and Sylvia, God bless you for your boldness.  Yes, God bless you for your boldness in stepping into the holy estate of marriage, for as you know, many are not getting married these days.  In the United States, the marriage rate has drastically declined, while divorce rates have drastically increased. Furthermore, we are seeing more and more couples postponing marriage, getting married much later in life.

Now, while I am not attempting to use the pulpit as a soapbox today, I do want to point out your boldness in stepping into the estate of marriage – going against the trends.  I want to publicly say, “God bless you both for courageously and fearlessly taking your place as husband and wife in the holy estate of marriage,” for so it seems that marriage is a risky business these days. 

But why is it a risky business to step into the holy estate of marriage? 

If we consider our Old Testament reading from the book of Hosea for a moment, we hear how God describes marriage.  And when the Lord describes marriage, it sure does not sound like the kind of squishy and fairytale marriages that we so often see in Hollywood movies.

More specifically, when God talks about marriage, He talks about Himself and his commitment to His bride - the bride being you and me, the church.  That is to say; the Lord God portrays Himself as a husband and then talks about His commitment to His bride, the church. 

But we must keep in mind that the Lord’s commitment to His church is not like the kind of commitment where a husband loafs around on a couch barking orders at his wife while she is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  The Lord’s commitment is not like a husband who runs away at any sign a conflict in life, leaving the wife and kids to fend for themselves. No!  The Lord God describes His commitment to His bride as: strength, loyalty, and honor.  Keep in mind, though, that this strength, loyalty, and honor are not meant to intimidate or dominate the bride. But rather, it is the kind of strength, loyalty, and honor that does everything for the ‘good’ of the bride. 

The Lord God also describes Himself with steadfast love and mercy towards His bride – the church.  Now, this love is not merely a butterfly feeling, but the kind of love that drives God to rescue, protect, and forgive His bride, the church, in every circumstance of life. 

And finally, but not least, the Lord God describes Himself as faithful to his bride, the church.  This word ‘faithful’ means utterly dependable and reliable with words, deeds, and promises. This faithfulness communicates an idea of a solid rock in which one can stand – an anchor in which one can cling to. 

Josh and Sylvia, what I describe to you today from the book of Hosea is the Lord’s commitment, strength, loyalty, love, mercy, and faithfulness to you – both - as members of His church.  Furthermore, what I describe to you is your calling Josh – what I describe is the role that you are taking, Josh, within the estate of marriage. 

You see, Josh, in this estate of marriage, you are the husband – the groom.  And within this marriage, the Lord calls you to love Sylvia, your bride, with the same commitment, strength, loyalty, love, mercy, and faithfulness that He has for you both.  Josh, mark this, the Lord is not calling you to ‘risk everything’ for Sylvia, but instead, He has called you to ‘give everything’ to Sylvia in this marriage – to give even your very life to protect, rescue, and forgive her as your bride.    

And Sylvia, in the book of Hosea, we hear how the church responds to the Lord.  In one simple line, we hear that the bride shall know the Lord.  The word know means that the church commits herself as fervently and faithful to the Lord as the Lord commits Himself to the church.  The church is loyal.  The church trusts, respects, and is devoted to the Lord. 

Now, the church’s loyalty to the Lord is not like the kind of loyalty where a wife gossips and shreds her husband with other girlfriends while eating appetizers at Applebee’s.  The church’s loyalty is not like a wife who is always rolling her eyes and cutting her husband down with condescending sigh – nitpicking him to death over every single one of his so-called mistakes. No!  This is not the church!  The church adores, respects, and is loyal.  But keep in mind that this respect, adoration, and loyalty is not being a doormat to abuse, but the kind of submission that gets behind and backs up a faithful husband. 

Sylvia, in this estate of marriage, you are the wife – the bride.  And within this marriage, the Lord God calls you to respect and commit yourself to Josh with the same commitment and loyalty that the church is to have for the Lord.  Mark this, Sylvia, the Lord is not calling you to ‘risk everything’ for Josh, He has called you to give complete loyalty to Josh in this marriage - to give loyalty, respect, and commitment to your beloved husband. 

Now, as you already know (along with everyone else here), entering into a marriage is not easy. In fact, it is downright impossible to fulfill these roles as husband and wife that I just described to you both.  Yet, you both are boldly taking your place in the estate of marriage in spite of all of this.  And that is why I say, “God bless you.”

Yes, God bless you both for daring to take your place in marriage as husband and wife.  God bless you today and every day, for it is not only through God’s blessing of grace in Christ that you will live as husband and wife, but in a profound, remarkable way, this bold step into marriage will be one of the greatest, holiest, worthiest, and noblest things that will ever exist for the both of you.

You see, the Lord God will bless this marriage with His grace, love, and favor so that you may boldly love each other despite the ups and downs of life...  so that you may boldly apologize to each other in your fights and conflicts…  so that you may boldly forgive each other with life’s misunderstandings and failings… and that you may boldly rest in each other’s care – knowing that out of the 7.5 billion people in this world that you have one person that is there for you with loyalty, faithfulness, love, and commitment.

Today, remember for all the years to come, your boldness for each other – that you stepped into marriage for each other.  But even more, remember that your boldness is a small glimpse of the boldness of Christ whose strength, loyalty, faithfulness, love, and commitment are for you both – accomplished at the cross of Calvary, given to you in the Word and Sacraments. 

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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