Posts Tagged ‘Wedding’

Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And see King Solomon with the crown With which his mother crowned him On the day of his wedding, The day of the gladness of his heart. Song of Songs 3:11 (NKJV)

A short sidebar in Psychology Today[i] explained that the most lavish wedding ceremonies aren’t always the most auspicious.  Many young people hear of the royal weddings, full of pomp and ceremony, or watch the wedding ceremonies of the rich and famous and imagine that the bigger the wedding the happier they will be.

Two recent reports, one by a two Emory University economists and another that two psychologists produced for the National Marriage Project, investigate the power of one of the most important rites of passage – a couple’s wedding.

The studies found that couples who reported having more guests at their wedding also reported, on average, higher levels of marital quality, even when they controlled for factors such as education, religiosity, race, and income.  They also observed that higher wedding attendance was associated with lower odds of divorce.  The benefits of having more witnesses at one’s wedding may be partly due to the psychological consequences of making such a public declaration of commitment, that is, that we strive to maintain consistency between what we say and what we do. These couples also likely have more friends and family who see the relationship as something worth supporting or rooting for.

At the same time, they don’t break the bank in the process of having a large wedding.  Spending more money on weddings and rings, however, was not associated with more stable marriages. In fact, those who spend the most on their weddings were, on average, at greater risk of divorce. The economists speculate that an expensive wedding might place a high degree of stress on a marriage before it’s even off the ground.

The most important lesson from these studies is that the power of the big day is far more likely to lie in the connections and the commitment than the spectacle.

Father God, help us to think wisely about how much we spend on our wedding day and instead invest on a lifetime marriage.

[i] Psychology Today, May/June 2015

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Scripture: (2 Sam 13:15 NKJV)  Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!”

Observation: Amnon, son of David, fell in love with his step-sister Tamar and plotted to have her come to his house under the pretense of being sick.  While there, he forced her, maybe even raped her, but having accomplished his evil plot he despised her and rejected her altogether.

Application: I wish more single young people, teens and single young adults, would read this story and learn that it follows the pattern or most pre-marital relationships.  I think this is particularly important for young ladies who surrender their virginity early with the desire to show their boyfriend their love, for fear they will loose them if they reject their advances, or in the hope they will keep them even while he pulls away from them.  Those who believe in evolution would say that man is the hunter and when they have caught their prey they loose interest in them.  Those of us who believe in God believe that once a woman has surrendered what is most sacred to her, men loose respect for them, and therefore they have no more interest in them.  While young man think that having premarital sex will bring them closer together, more often than not it becomes an insurmountable barrier.
Several years ago there was an article in Time magazine about the report by the National Marriage Project, out of Rutgers University in New Jersey, which says that, “Cohabitating couples are more likely to experience a host of domestic problems — including, if they finally get marriage, divorce.
Last year in the U.S., more than 4 million unmarried heterosexual couples shacked up, in contrast to only half a million at the end of the supposedly free-spirited ‘60’s.  Though living together has become conventional, the report cites studies showing that these unions, in comparison to marriages, tend to have more episodes of domestic violence to women and physical and sexual abuse of children.  It notes that annual rates of depression among unmarried couples are more than three times those of married couples.
The report contends that cohabitation reduces the likelihood of later wedded bliss.  It quotes a 1992 study of 3,300 adults showing that those who had lived with a partner were 46% (it is now known to be 80%) more likely to divorce than those who had not.  ‘The longer you cohabit, the more tolerant you are of divorce,’ says David Popenoe, the sociologist who co-wrote the study.  ‘You are used to living in a low-commitment relationship, and it’s hard to shift that kind of mental pattern.’”
Premarital sex and premarital cohabitation do not benefit the relationship; instead, it will bring a host of problems, challenges, and difficulties including not marrying the person with whom they had intercourse or with whom they live, including abuse to them or their children, and ultimately divorce.  God’s plan for sex after marriage is best and healthiest and provides the best chances for lasting happiness.

Prayer: Father, bless the young and single who are tempted to enter into relationships and practice premarital sex and help them to not fall into a sin which will bring about life-lasting difficulties and challenges.  May they enjoy the best and healthiest of relationships before and after their wedding.

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Scripture: (Gen 29:17 NKJV)  Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.

Observation: The words that describe Leah have been debated for many years by many commentators.  Some believe that Leah had soft blue eyes, which were considered a blemish.  In The New Manners and Customs of the Bible it says that, “The tender eyes of Leah, as so translated in the KJV, were actually eyes that were visually weak or lacked luster—dull and unimpressive eyes. This was considered to be a great defect among those who admired sparkling eyes that were lively and flashing. That Leah’s eyes were compared to Rachel’s beauty obviously meant there was no beauty in them and that Leah herself was probably plain in face and form compared to her sister.”  The SDA Bible Commentary explains that, “The Hebrew word rak, here translated “tender” by the KJV, has usually been understood to mean “weak” or “dull.” Ever since the LXX employed this translation most commentators and translators have followed it. The word rak also means “delicate,” “gentle,” “soft,” and “flattering,” and may perhaps mean that her eyes looked the precise opposite of what most commentators have thought. However, the fact that Jacob was not attracted to Leah would indicate more of a contrast between the two sisters than this latter suggestion implies. Perhaps Leah’s eyes, and her personality as well, lacked the brilliance and lustrous warmth the Oriental admires. The RSV renders the word as “weak.”
The verse gives us a contrast between the two sisters which may explain why Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.  He had met and fallen in love with Rachel first, he had been tricked by Laban to take Leah – which might have caused Jacob to despised her even more.  We know there were constant disputes over their marital rights between Leah and Rachel, and later, with the addition of their two maidservants, and the birth of all thirteen children, tensions rose even higher.
In The Story of Redemption, Ellen White makes some interesting comments about this situation: “Jacob was not happy in his marriage relation, although his wives were sisters. He formed the marriage contract with Laban for his daughter Rachel, whom he loved. After he had served seven years for Rachel, Laban deceived him and gave him Leah. When Jacob realized the deception that had been practiced upon him, and that Leah had acted her part in deceiving him, he could not love Leah. Laban wished to retain the faithful services of Jacob a greater length of time, therefore deceived him by giving him Leah, instead of Rachel. Jacob reproved Laban for thus trifling with his affections, in giving him Leah, whom he had not loved. Laban entreated Jacob not to put away Leah, for this was considered a great disgrace, not only to the wife, but to the whole family.  Jacob was placed in a most trying position, but he decided to still retain Leah, and also marry her sister. Leah was loved in a much less degree than Rachel. {SR 89-90}

Application: Leah desired the love of her husband.  This is obvious as she names her sons:(Gen 29:32-35 NKJV)
Reuben: “The LORD has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.”
Simeon: “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.”
Levi: “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”
Judah: “Now I will praise the LORD.”

While we read that Jacob loved Rachel, we never read that She loved him.  That is not to say that she didn’t, but her bitterness spilled over into her marriage as she demands of Jacob, (Gen 30:1-25 NKJV)  “Give me children, or else I die!” Finally she decides to give Jacob her maid, and again, the names of Bilhah’s children reflect Rachel’s bitterness, particularly toward her sister:

Dan: “God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.”
Naphtali: “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.”

Zilpah, Leah’s maid, now enters in this marital battle, and bears Jacob two more sons, but then Leah also bears Jacob a couple more sons:

Issachar: “God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.”
Zebulun: “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.”

It must be a very heavy burden to be unloved by their spouse.  And yet Leah did not leave or divorce Jacob.  Their children enjoyed the stable home, living with their father and mother.  It was a large, blended family, but they were able to live with their biological parents.  Children of divorce suffer in many different aspects of their lives – financially, emotionally, educationally, etc.  Once we have brought children into this world, we must do everything we can to provide them with a loving home, with their biological parents to protect them, to provide for them, to help them and encourage them.  Pray that you may be loved by your spouse, but most importantly, display love for your spouse; we are responsible for our feelings and actions, not for those of the other person.

Prayer: Father of love, help us to show our spouse how much we love them, and when negative thoughts and feeling creep up upon us, help us to defeat them and grow in us Your love for our spouse.  Bless us, our marriage and our home, that we may provide our children a good, warm, stable home, one where them may feel safe knowing their parents won’t abandon them.  Help us to show them through our example that in spite of conflict, we can remain together and keep our commitment to one another and to You to live together until death do us part.  And may this example break the cycle of divorce that permeates so many families today.

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Scripture: (Judg 14:1-3 NKJV)  Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. {2} So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” {3} Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”

Observation: Samson became obsessed with a woman from Timnah and insisted, against his parent’s advice, that they get her for him.  They objected because marriage with an unbeliever, in fact a pagan, was strictly forbidden.  But Samson was insistent and his parents, who were obviously indulgent of their only son, gave in and made the appropriate arrangements for Samson to have her.  Just reading the rest of the chapter tells us of the horrible results of such actions which eventually led to his involvement with a prostitute, Delilah, and to his capture and eventual demise.

Application: In our day we don’t have arranged marriages, at least in our western culture, and yet I can’t help but wonder how many people I personally know would be so much better off if they had only listened to their parents and of others I know right now who are going against the advice of family and friends totally ignoring their advice, their feelings, and their dislike of the person they are dating.  It’s as if they believe that by stubbornly staying with that person they will force their family and friends to dismiss their concerns for their relationships and they will come to like, or even love the other person.  In the PREPARE inventory I provide to couples contemplating marriage, one of the areas we look at is the parents and friends’ reaction to the couple’s relation.  When their reaction is positive, the couple not only seems to do better but also, logically, they have one less thing to work on or worry about.  The opposite is also true of the couples who don’t enjoy the support of their family or friends; it’s like fighting an uphill battle as they begin to form their new relationship and without the love and support of those closest to them.
While the family may not always be right in their feelings or opinions of your boyfriend or girlfriend, if there are negative feelings already going into the relationship, chances are that they won’t get any better later.  Listen to what your family and friends are trying to tell you; they are trying to help you, and they may be saving you from a life of hardship and pain.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the wise counsel of family and friends.  May we be attentive to what they have to tell us, specially if that has to do with following Your guidance and when it comes to those relationships which we hope will be life-lasting.

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Scripture: “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: 3“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.  4“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.  (Deuteronomy 28:1-4 NKJV)

Observation: Chapter 27 contains a series of curses on those who transgress God’s laws.  Chapter 28 contains the corresponding blessings on those who obey God’s commands.  On our passage today, I particularly like the first words of vs. 9 – “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself.”  His promise is that when we accept Him as our God, He becomes our foundation and we will be established firmly on Him.

Application: I like the picture of God as our strong, firm, and everlasting foundation with us being built or our home being built on that firm foundation.
As I write these things, I am coming back from my nephew’s wedding.  He was brought up with an alcoholic, physically abuse father.  His mother, my sister, became an Adventist in his pre-adolescent years but later left the church.  It’s a wonder that my nephew turned out as well as he has!  In his late teens and early twenties, he experimented with different lifestyles and religious views. . . I have to confess I really don’t know what he believes – it’s a n eclectic mixture of eastern religions, Christianity, naturalistic views, personal observations, and who knows what else.
My nephew met and married a lovely young lady from a nice Buddhist family; yesterday they had a Buddhist wedding ceremony at mid-day, and later in the day they had a generic wedding (the description of the man who officiated) by an attorney friend who also happens to be a notary public and ca, therefore, officiate at wedding ceremonies.
I couldn’t help but think of all that took place yesterday, on Sabbath, as a young Buddhist girl officially married my former Adventist nephew, with whom she had been living, in a generic wedding ceremony. . . a short, generic service which reflected the beginning of their life together, at least officially, with the God of creation, the God who established marriage and the Sabbath, not invited to their wedding, or their lives, on this His holy day.
I wish them well.  I wish them a long life of happiness and joy, health and prosperity.  And yet, I can’t help but feel sadness at the beginning of a building of a new home without the firm foundation of God at the center.
Now, as I write these words, I hear again Moses telling the Israelites, “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself.”  Who is your foundation?  Whose people are you?  On Whom is you marriage, your family, being built?

Prayer: Father, our Lord and our Foundation, may we be built on You so we may be firmly established forever.

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Scripture: (Gen 31:50 NKJV)  “If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us; see, God is witness between you and me!”

Observation: After working for Laban for twenty years, Jacob leaves with his wives and children to go back home.  Laban catches up with him and chastises Jacob for leaving without announcing his departure or giving him a chance to say his farewells to his daughters and grandchildren.  His biggest issue, though, seems to be the fact that his household idols disappeared – Rachel had taken them.  After looking for them and not finding his idols, Laban and Jacob establish a series of covenants and build a stone pillar, or memorial, to remind them, and anyone who would ask, about their covenant.  We know the words of the Mizpah established here: “”May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from another” (vs.49).  It is the second part of their covenant that we don’t seem to pay much attention to as Laban told Jacob two things: 1. Not to mistreat or abuse his daughters, and 2. Not to take any other wives.  And this covenant was to be made not just between them, but it was a covenant before God.

Application: It would be well for spouses to remember and abide by the words of this covenant:
1. There should never be abuse in the marital relationship, in the home, or in the family.  There is no excuse or reason for abuse of any type, and therefore it should never happen in a Christian home.
2. Neglect in any area of our lives – whether it be physical by withholding food, clothing, shelter, affection, intimacy, etc., is seen as a violation of the marital covenant to care for one another.
3. Once the marriage takes place, there should not be any other person – man or woman – to enter into that relationship as it will disrupt it, damage it, and destroy it.
4. Our covenants – particularly marriage – is not just with one another but between us and God.  Therefore adultery and divorce are taken very seriously by God because they are a violation of a covenant we made with Him.  Many take divorce very lightly and excuse themselves behind things like irreconcilable difference; We can rationalize as much as we want to, but God does not accept or condone divorce for no reason.  Through the prophet Malachi God declared, “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel. . . “So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith” (Mal 2:16 NIV).
It is interesting that Laban put these two conditions in his covenant with Jacob as some argue that Abuse, Neglect, and Adultery are the only three reasons given in the Bible for divorce that is acceptable to God. (See Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible by David Instone-Brewer).

Prayer: Father, thank you for the covenant we established with our spouse and with You because it keeps us close together in the bond of matrimony You established.  Together, we are a strand of three which can never be broken as long as You are at the center of our lives.  Keep that bond and that covenant strong and alive in our daily living, in our home, in our family, and in our marriage, and may You watch between our spouse and us when we are together and specially when we’re absent from one another.

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Scripture: (Lev 8:33 NKJV)  “And you shall not go outside the door of the tabernacle of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are ended. For seven days he shall consecrate you.

Observation: At the beginning of Leviticus 8 we read that it was time to dedicate Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, so Moses told them to wash themselves – a physical cleansing necessary to prepare them for the spiritual cleansing.  Then Moses put on them the priestly garments that had been specifically designed for them.  The next step in the process was the ritual of the spiritual cleansing, which included several sacrifices and placing blood on the right ear lobe, right thumb, and right big toe of the foot, as well as sprinkling blood on their garments – all of these symbolizing that the blood of the sacrifice was covering their sin and enabling them to serve and minister on behalf of the people.  There was one more step necessary before they could begin their ministry, and that was a seven-day consecration of themselves.  It was not until these seven days were finished that they could officially begin the daily and annual ministrations of the sanctuary, but from then on and until Israel forfeited their call by rejecting the Messiah, the Levitical priesthood would remain an integral part of the spiritual life of the nation of Israel.

Application: The rituals and ceremonies surrounding the beginning of the Levitical priesthood remind me of all that is involved in the process of becoming husband and wife.  On the wedding day, the man and the woman go through a process of cleansing and preparing themselves.  Some ladies go to the beauty shop, get their hair and nails done, some get a pedicure and make-up applied.  The man might have gotten a hair cut and in the morning of his wedding he shaves and takes a cleansing shower.  Then the couple, separately, get their wedding clothes on – he gets his tuxedo on, she gets help to get her wedding gown on.  From their separate homes the couple makes their way to the church or wedding chapel, being careful that he does not see her before the ceremony.  At last, the groom goes up to the front of the church with his best man and the pastor, the rest of the wedding marches in, and finally the bride, holding on to her father’s arm, marches down the aisle to join the awaiting groom where they proceed together through the wedding ceremony where they are legally and religiously united as one in the sight of God and all who have gathered to witness their union.
There is one more tradition part that cannot be overlooked in this process of becoming one – the honeymoon.  While some people view it as a sort of vacation during which the couple travels to exotic places, swim at beautiful beaches, cruise or fly from one place to the next, the honeymoon is the time when the couple consummates their marriage.  From now on, they are one and their covenant must remain “for as long as they live.”  The honeymoon serves as a way to seal their commitment to one another, and most importantly, to God, by fulfilling His plan for their lives of becoming one and by committing to not let anyone or anything come between them.

Prayer: Loving Father, we rededicate ourselves to You this day, as husband and wife, to remain together, under Your will and blessings, and for Your honor and glory, for the rest of our lives.  May nothing or no one come between us, and may the three of us – husband, wife, and You – walk together more closely everyday until the day Jesus returns and we continue walking together with You for eternity.

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