30 May 2007

It Was Twenty Year Ago Today

I don't know what Sgt. Pepper may have been doing at that point, but it was twenty years ago today (30 May) that more than one of our Emmaus couples were united in holy matrimony. Cheers to all of them! And the Lord's richest blessings upon all husbands and wives.

I've mentioned before that our parents and our spouses are adorned with the hidden majesty of God's Word. This is one of the most significant things that I have learned along the way. Dr. Luther writes of this in the Large Catechism, especially with respect to the offices of father and mother, in his discussion of the Fourth Commandment. He speaks of marriage according to God's Word in his lectures on Genesis. There Dr. Luther makes the wonderful point that one's own wife has been given to him by God, and therefore has a special beauty unlike any other woman in the world. The Sixth Commandment serves, not only as a prohibition, but as a divine Word that honors and adorns the particular spouse that God has given to each husband or wife.

Two wrongs don't make a right, of course, and the union of two sinners does not result in a sinless, carefree life. Nevertheless, the Lord's institution of marriage is a powerful corrective to the curse and consequence of sin. It is a great mystery, St. Paul writes, which ultimately signifies Christ and His Bride, the Church. Thus, it is chiefly to be characterized by self-sacrificing love and forgiveness. Herein, the man and the woman are once more naked and unashamed. This is why the devil hates marriage so much, and works so hard to destroy it. But Christ is ever faithful to His Bride, and He continues to serve her with His love and mercy, His forgiveness and peace, His Body and Blood, and His life. It is especially as members of His Bride, therefore, that wives and husbands learn how to live together in faith and love. By and with the Word of God, marriage is a little school of charity, of hope in the face of adversity, and of unity in the face of division.

The Word of God makes every difference. When husband and wife are united as one flesh, also in the marriage bed, this is a sacred union, despite the sinfulness of each spouse. Sex outside of marriage, though it has become rampant and taken for granted, stands outside of and apart from the Word of God; for that reason, it is not only wrong, but it exacerbates sin and multiplies the curse and consequence of the fall. Within marriage, however, all the hurts and fears, all the frailities and weaknesses, all the faults and failings of two poor, miserable sinners are brought under the shelter and protection of Christ and His forgiveness. When husband and wife cling to each other, they lay hold of the Word and promises of God, and in the face of sin and every evil, they are returned by His grace to a little paradise on earth, in anticipation of the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom, which has no end.

It is a matter of faith, not of sight. Marriage in this sinful world is under the Cross. Daily life can be hard, often tedious, and then there are the crises and disasters that bring even greater trials and tribulations. Yet, the Lord does not abandon His children in adversity; He has mercy and compassion for them in all the big and little cares and occupations of this life. The wine that He provides and causes to flow in celebration of our marriages and anniversaries is a present blessing that spites the devil's tyranny of false belief and despair. And it is a sign of the new and better wine that flows from the riven side of Christ, from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

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