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What do we mean? 

What do we have in mind? 

The thing whose beauty we ought to preserve is a thing whose beauty is frequently mentioned in Scripture. 

We have in mind the beauty of the marriage ceremony and celebration. 

And today we see so much creeping into these wedding ceremonies and receptions that is anything but activity performed in His fear. Often the weddings of young people in the congregations resemble so closely the weddings of the world that its beauty is gone and we return home disgusted and sick at heart at what we have experienced. 

Scripture, surely, does not condemn either a public ceremony or a reception to celebrate and commemorate the wedding. 

The marriage bond is one of the most beautiful figures used in Scripture to express and present the relationship between Christ and His Church. And’ this fact ought to be evident in every wedding of those who profess to belong to His, Church. 

We read of the marriage bond already in Paradise when God made Eve from the rib of Adam to be a help meet for him. All the animals were created male and female. All had companions. But Adam stood all alone. Then God caused a deep sleep to come over him and from his rib created Eve. 

Eve was made to be a help that was meet or fit for Adam. O, she was a help mate. She was a mate who would help him in many different ways. But the meaning of the words of Moses in the narrative of this creative work of God is that Eve was made to be suitable, fit—and in that sense meet—to be his help. You may find that Webster gives this meaning also to the word meet. Without giving it much thought and through careless reading we soon form the opinion that it means nothing more than a help mate. But in order truly to be Adam’s helper, Eve must be so created that she is meet, suitable, fit for the work. 

And God created man and woman thus that it might .be a picture of the relationship wherein His Church and Christ would stand. He did not find this relationship and see the possibility of using it to teach us of the union between Christ and His Church. God finds nothing. He creates things and designs all things in infinite wisdom. 

This thought is further carried on in Holy Writ and we see in the Song of Solomon the love of Christ for His bride pictured in most beautiful language. We see how beautiful Christ’s bride is in His eyes; how greatly He loves her and longs for the day when they shall everlastingly be united in the new creation. 

Jesus Himself spoke of this union and used more than once in His parables the wedding scene to instruct His Church in the things of His kingdom. He told the parable of the ten virgins who purposed to go to the wedding reception and to rejoice with the bride and bridegroom. He spoke of the wedding feast of the king’s son. 

His own presence at the wedding celebration at Cana of Galilee places the stamp of approval upon our custom of gathering after the ceremony to rejoice and celebrate with the bridegroom and his bride. 

And in Revelation 21 the fulfillment of all God’s covenant promises is pictured by means of the figure of the bride. and bridegroom in their love for each other. John declares that in his vision he was carried away to see the bride, the Lamb’s wife: What is then shown unto Him is the great city, the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God. It is the Church which is Christ’s bride. In chapter 22 the bride is reported as praying to Christ, the bridegroom, “Come.” 

In all this there is not simply approval upon making the event one to be remembered when two covenant youths are united in the bond of holy matrimony. There is also a certain beauty, spiritual beauty, a holiness, a wonder of God’s grace that is breathed through all this testimony from God’s word. The wedding ceremony and the celebration are beautiful things, events of great spiritual significance and may be conducted without fear that we are disobeying the ordinances of God. 

But we must keep them such. 

They must be conducted in His fear. 

They must not militate against the truth which God expresses in the use of the figure in Holy Writ, For they are beautiful events and are kept beautiful only when they are conducted in His fear. 

The wedding day is one that is looked for with eager anticipation by bride and “groom” and even by all the attendants. Much preparation and thought is given to the details of its ceremony and reception. Plans are carefully made and much time is given to strive to have all things work smoothly. Yet the spiritual touch is very often ignored. 

A wedding ceremony must have a soloist with songs for the occasion. 

These songs all too often fit better with the wedding of the unbelievers than with the holy bonds of matrimony wherein covenant young people are united. Many of these “wedding songs” are so superficial and lacking in any real meaning that it certainly is the melody of the song that must have given it its appeal. We can understand that in the unspiritual world which has nothing of true value such songs will be chosen for wedding ceremonies. There nothing is clone in His fear; and the beauty of the marriage bond as the picture of the union of Christ with His bride is not understood nor appreciated. We can expect to hear at such weddings the utterly superficial and sickly sentimental. “I Love You Truly.” There is not a breath of God’s fear in the whole song. And when it is sung at the wedding of a covenant young couple, one feels transported on the wings of the song into the world. How much more beautiful is it and what a reverent spirit prevails when the beautiful strains of the well known and often sung Lord’s Prayer fill the church auditorium. 

The same thing may be said of the wedding reception—although we intend to write more fully about that next time. How often are not the songs utterly silly and void of the beauty of the event as pictured in Holy Writ. How much more significant and full of the spirit of the Word of God when we are united in singing thus front the Psalms: 

Blest the man that fears Jehovah 

Walking ever in His ways; 

By thy toil thou shalt be prospered 

And be happy all thy clays. 

In thy wife thou shalt have gladness, 

She shall fill thy home with good, 

Happy in her loving service 

And the joys of motherhood. 

Joyful children, sons and daughters, 

Shall about thy table meet, 

Olive plants, in strength and beauty, 

Full of hope and promise sweet. 

Thou shalt see God’s kingdom prosper 

All thy days, till life shall cease, 

Thou shalt see thy children’s children; 

On Thy people, Lord, be peace. 

Then you see the beauty of a covenant marriage. Then you have not ruled God out of it, but you have celebrated and observed these things in His fear. 

Such a wedding is beautiful.

Of course, the bride may adorn herself in the traditional white wedding gown, if she so desires. 

Of course, we may make it a thing of external beauty as well as to emphasize the spiritual beauty of it. 

It is certainly not to be maintained that a church wedding with beautiful clothing, with beautiful flowers and beautiful music cannot be in His fear. The Scriptures speak quite a different language. Were this a sinful thing utterly devoid of the fear of the Lord, God Himself, surely, would not use this practice to illustrate the preparation of the Church for Christ’s return. We read in Revelation 21:2, “And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming clown front God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Or if you please, we read in Isaiah 49:18, “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.” Or again from the same book of prophecy Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.” 

We may note that the bridegroom is also presented here as wearing special attire for this beautiful event. And we may add that for a bridal party to be dressed for the occasion— provided it is modest apparel and becoming a child of God—is not to be forbidden either. Jesus says to His disciples in Matthew 9:15, “Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?” And the joy which is the children of the bridal processions may surely be displayed in modest, beautiful clothing. 

Or, if you please, as we read in Jeremiah 2:32, “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?” Surely the inference is that God does not demand it either of the bride that she leave her attire behind as a thing that as such is not in His fear. 

Indeed, these things can be very wicked and always are when they are practiced by the unbeliever. For then he always ends in these things rather than in God. The true beauty of the wedding ceremony and reception is lost or rather deliberately kept out of them. 

Beautiful attire, beautiful flowers and beautiful music have meaning only as we are married in the Lord. And that means that we do not for convenience sake or for brevity agree to have just any form read to suit our earthly fancies. It means that we want the word of God brought to our attention while we are gathered for this sacred and beautiful event of being united in the bonds of holy matrimony as covenant children of God. 

The marriage form that is read must be one that keeps the beauty, the spiritual loveliness of the marriage. 

Give careful attention to this matter. 

It is a matter all too easily overlooked or decided on a utilitarian and carnal basis rather than in His fear. 

Keep the wedding ceremony a thing of spiritual beauty. 

J.A.H.