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What God has joined together

Every now and then a church will receive a phone call that goes something like this: “Hello, does your church do weddings? My fiancé and I are looking for a nice church to get married in. Could the pastor there do our wedding? And how much do you charge?”
Answering these questions is not easy. If I were a minister at a Las Vegas wedding chapel the fast answer is “Yes, let’s get it done, and here’s the fee.” But since I shepherd a congregation of disciples in Richmond, the answer takes longer. And it includes some Bible ideas that go back to Eden. It also requires me to ask a few questions of my own, like: “Do you attend a church? Can you get married there? Can your pastor marry you?” And if the answer to these questions is “No”, then one more question is needed before going further: “Why do you want to get married in a church?”
Some like the atmosphere and the beauty of a church wedding. Others are looking for a less expensive option than other rented locations. But if they’re honest, many couples can answer that last question with God in it: “Why a wedding in the church? Because that’s the right way to do it. Because weddings should be in churches. Because there’s something sacred about it in a church.” “Right”, “should” and “sacred” point to God. Deep down we all really know that marriage involves God – fundamentally.
This is natural, since God performed the first marriage. After making Adam, he made and then gave away the bride, Eve. He told them to be fruitful and multiply and work together. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Intuitively we sense God’s stamp of approval on the marriage of a man to a woman. It is a union rooted in his very nature.
This is why Jesus – God on earth – said, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:6). God wants no man or woman to split up a marriage – not even the married couple themselves – because God has joined them. Marriage is literally God joining husband and wife. So it makes sense to make that joining public in God’s house. Most engaged couples feel that, and that is why they often call a church to set up the wedding.
If marriage is God joining them, the couple needs to ask one another a few things from a new perspective. “Since this is God’s marriage, not just ours, will we include him? Will we worship him and live obediently to him? Will we become members of this church we want to get married in? Will we invite the pastor and people there to develop involved relationships with us to help us strengthen our marriage? Will we seek God’s ways for our marriage and refuse to separate, since that is what God wants for us?” Placing God in the marriage can cause some couples to see their marriage in a whole new light.
But other couples would rather not add God to the equation. If they want to leave God out of their wedding, then they might want to do their wedding somewhere other than in God’s house. But since many couples sense marriage is of God and want his approval in his house, they can and should consciously and intentionally include God in every aspect of their marriage. For they literally are what God has joined together.

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