Weddings can be simple, extravagant, excruciatingly long, delightful or the best party of the year! My favorite wedding surprise was one that commenced with a procession of bridesmaids and groomsmen each playing an unusual instrument while strolling down the grassy center aisle under tall shade trees. In my day, (here comes the old lady story) we all had pretty much the same wedding: songs, slide shows, cake, sherbet and gingerale punch, nuts and mints. But I love that many weddings today are intentionally planned in a way that expresses something of “who” the bride and groom are as persons. I’m sure it’s not hard to guess some of the particular personality traits of the couple hosting the aforementioned wedding.
In an effort to showcase the individuality and unique nature of the persons entering into marital union, couples last year spent an average of $33,391 according to The Knot 2017 Real Wedding Study. Lauren Kay, who wrote an article entitled, “The Top Wedding Trends for 2018” names these among the top ten:
-asking for cash
-single stem bouquets
-open fire cooking and
-Lipstick Touchup Bars!
Perhaps of most interest to me are the latest creative suggestions for a particular part of the ceremony that makes a statement symbolically reflecting the joining of the couple in inseparable union. During my wedding many years ago, we asked our parents to light the two outside candles displayed in a line of three placed in a candelabra. My husband-to-be and I, at just the right moment, together lit the center candle without lighting my veil on fire, but made the grave mistake of blowing out our “family” candles. And thus, the source of all of our marital difficulties!
Unity ceremonies are not uncommon in weddings today. My research revealed the following as visible and physical expressions signifying the invisible union of two unique individuals that takes place in that solemn moment:
- tree planting unity ceremony
- handmade basket exchange
- family puzzle unity ceremony
- painted canvas unity ceremony
- unity tea ceremony
- wine blending unity ceremony
- whiskey pouring unity ceremony AND
- the UNITY VOLCANO!
Will someone I know please have a unity volcano at their wedding?
But seriously, as we enter in to the events of our wedding day, we all experience a deep desire to in some way express that we, as unrepeatable, irreplaceable persons are entering with our whole selves into union with the other. We intuitively are drawn to proclaim this invisible union through a visible sign. Why?
Let’s talk about the Biblical roots of a wedding ceremony. The practice of covenant making was common in the culture of the East during the Old Testament times. God calls upon this cultural practice as a means of entering into relationship with His people in a way that is familiar to them. Here is an excerpt from the Bible Study Tools website explaining covenant: “The covenant in the Old Testament shows considerable modification from the early idea. Yet it will doubtless help in understanding the Old Testament covenant to keep in mind the early idea and form. Combining statements made in different accounts, the following seem to be the principal elements in a covenant between men.
1) A statement of the terms agreed upon. (Genesis 26:29; 31:50,52)
2) An oath by each party to observe the terms, God being witness of the oath (Genesis 26:31: 31:48-53). The oath was such a characteristic feature that sometimes the term “oath” is used as the equivalent of covenant. (see Ezekiel 17:13)
3) A curse invoked by each one upon himself in case of disregard of the agreement. In a sense this may be considered a part of the oath, adding emphasis to it. This curse is not explicitly stated in the case of human covenants, but may be inferred from the covenant with God. (Deut 27:15-26)
4) The formal ratification of the covenant by some solemn external act.”
Throughout scripture God describes His own relationship with His people as a covenantal marriage in order that they could see a picture of all that He was inviting them to with Himself. He never refers to marriage as anything other than covenantal. (Jer. 31:31-33; Malachi 2:13-14; Isaiah 54:5; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Hosea 2:19; Isaiah 62:3-5). Biblegateways’ commentary on Biblical themes states: “Marriage is used to describe the relationship between God and Israel in the Old Testament and between Jesus Christ and the church in the New Testament. Contemplating marriage deepens understanding of God’s love for his people; examining God’s covenant love for his people similarly enriches and understanding of marriage.”
In a covenantal marriage, the bride and groom are present and prepared to enter into a covenant. Vows or oaths are made to one another that are some version of this statement, “I give myself totally, freely and only to you. I am entering into union with you until death do us part.” These oaths are part of a covenant ceremony, in which the presence of God is invoked, creating a permanent, mystical and invisible bond between the bride and groom. An external act is necessary in order to complete the covenant. Is there a unity ceremony that seals this union of two persons with a physical and visible sign and completes the covenant? Absolutely! The sexual union of the couple is the unity ceremony.
So here we have it. What is sex? It is designed to be the REAL DEAL unity ceremony. It is the physical sign sealing the vows or oaths of the covenantal marriage and signifying an inseparable union under the conditions of the covenant.
What are the implications of this? It is for you to ponder and to ask God, is there something You want to say to me here?
Our next blog will explore this idea further as we consider the language that our bodies speak.
The foundation for this blog has been laid in our previous blogs and podcasts. We invite you to go back and consider all that we’ve discussed up to this point- it is all a part of a big picture vision that we’ve lost sight of. Even better, we’d love to have you join us at one of our workshops or to host a workshop event near you!