A lovely bride, dressed in white. A groom looking giddily in love. Promises to love and to cherish, as long as they lived.
If this sounds like an ordinary wedding—well, that’s just evidence that worldview is not always easy to spot. For instance, you couldn’t tell by looking that the bride and groom had never spent a night together before the wedding—unlike most couples these days.
They were both committed Christians—unlike many other brides and grooms who want a church wedding because it’s “traditional.” Most important of all, this young couple fully understood—and embraced—the meaning and purposes of marriage.
Tragically, many young couples enter into matrimony with no idea of what marriage is all about. Their “preparation” for marriage, if you can call it that, may consist of living with one person after another, until they find someone who is sexually compatible, or whose career goals don’t conflict with their own. Promises are made with their fingers crossed and a pre-nuptual agreement, just in case things don’t work out—or in the event they find someone they like better.
What’s responsible for the breakdown of a Christian view of marriage? In a series of articles on courtship and marriage in Boundless, Dr. Leon Kass, University of Chicago, writes that the deepest and most intractable obstacle to courtship and marriage today is “a set of cultural attitudes and sensibilities that obscure and even deny the fundamental difference between youth and adulthood.”
Christians view marriage as a framework for rearing the next generation. This, Kass notes, “is the business of adults, by which I mean, people who are serious about life, people who aspire to go outward and forward to embrace and to assume responsibility for the future.”
By contrast, the secular world sees the carefree attitute and independence of youth, not as a stage on the way to maturity, but as a permanent and desirable way of living. As Kass puts it, “Few feel the call to serve a higher goal or some transcendent purpose.” Instead, they have a “narcisstic absorption in themselves and in immediate pleasures . . . Very few aspire to be fully grown-up, and the culture does not demand it of them.”
This view of life is celebrated by books, films, commercials, television, and in the academy. No wonder our kids have no idea what marriage is all about.
This confusion and ignorance about the meaning of purpose of marriage is why Christian parents have to do much more than simply make sure their kids accept Christ and attend church potlucks. They’ve got to make sure their kids understand the biblical view of marriage and the biblical view of life itself. And a good place to start, by the way, is by introducing them to the Manhattan Declaration.
And if we do this, we may one day have the joy of seeing our kids stand up in a church, ready to take on all the responsibilities of adulthood—pledging their troth, and meaning it. There will be no sad attempt to infuse the wedding with some sort of theme—because the theme, under God, will already be there: To love and to cherish, for better or for worse, until death parts them.