Did You Forget?


Wedding vows

You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.


Matthew 5:33–37

Here, Jesus is saying, “I’ve just elevated your simple yes or no to that of a vow and a binding oath.” So you don’t have to say, “I swear to God.” I’m from the hood—we say: “I put that on everything I love—on my momma…” Right? 


If you say, “Yes, I will,” Jesus says that’s been elevated to a binding oath. 

Traditionally, the exchange is called “wedding vows.” Vows that we make at our wedding. But I wonder… did you forget the vow you made on your wedding day?

Do you ever remember what you said? Could the average couple recite the vows they made on their wedding day?

Because there was a lot going on…

You wanted to make sure your dress was nice, and he was making sure his tie was right. Did everybody get the same glossy black shoes from David’s Bridal? Did the bridesmaids pay their last payment? Is his niece going to walk straight down and scatter the flower petals right, or is she going to throw a tantrum halfway down the aisle? Is the DJ playing the right song? Is your family sitting down? Did his uncle make it yet? You picked an outdoor venue, and you’re praying it doesn’t rain…

There is so much going on that day that y’all trusted a freaking cute four-year-old boy to bring the rings down the aisle on a pillow! 

By the time you get down to the altar, your fiancé’s crying because you’re beautiful. You’re shaking like a leaf because all you can think is, “Oh crap… we’re going to actually do this!” 

Do you ever remember what you said? Could the average couple recite the vows they made on their wedding day? 

The answer is no. You couldn’t. 

The most important vows you’ve ever made in your entire life, the average couple could not repeat them verbatim. 

The officiant says, “This is a sober thing that should not be stepped into lightly, but reverently, advisedly, soberly before God…”

Did you forget what this represents? Because this is a re-presentation of Christ and His bride. 

Walk with me into the chapel, please. The wedding of Rhianna and Chris Brown (why not?) is about to begin.

Standing at the front is God the Father, the officiant.

That is why every officiant says, 

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today before God and these witnesses. 

The officiant stands “in the stead” of God. Literally, the officiant shows up, and the strongest implication of he or she being there is, “Hey God, couldn’t be here today. So He sent me. He’s here in the spirit, but you can’t see him.”

God is the one who performed the first wedding. He’s the one that brought Eve to Adam and presided over the first wedding.

Standing next to the officiant is Christ, Jesus, the groom.

You knew that already, but look at where He stands… next to the officiant—already in the wedding. Not coming in with the bride, but already there because, before the foundations of the world, Christ died for the bride. Christ gave His vow before the wedding started, and He’s standing next to the officiant, patiently waiting for her to arrive. 

Standing at the back of the church is the Church, the bride.

Dressed in spotless white.

On that wedding day, whether that woman has been pure or promiscuous, she puts on white. Because it doesn’t matter what her past is, she is presented spotless. That dress has no wrinkles, no spots. It is gleaming white; it doesn’t matter who the wearer is. You are clothed in white because you have been made righteous, and you are presented spotless before Christ. 

The Holy Spirit is the one that walks her down the aisle because it’s the Holy Spirit that brings people to Jesus…

Standing next to her, ready to walk her down the aisle, is the Holy Spirit. 

Here’s the kicker: The Holy Spirit is the one that walks her down the aisle because it’s the Holy Spirit that brings people to Jesus…

But you couldn’t even appreciate it the day you got married—there was too much going on! We couldn’t appreciate that we were actually seeing a re-presentation of the last marriage that would take place in all of time played out right before us.

The organist starts to play Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus,” or someone’s second cousin presses play on the ukulele version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”…

You know how the doors are closed when the groom is in place before the bride walks in, only to sweep open majestically as she makes her entrance? The reason why is because it’s a type of shadow for crossing over into time from eternity past. 

God the Father and God the Son are standing outside of time, waiting on her approach. The reason why the bride walks so slow is to typify how long it’s taken for Jesus to wait for his bride through all of human history.

In any wedding, you can take out the salt covenant, lighting the unity candle, your best friend to Stevie Wonder-ing through “Ribbon in the Sky,” taking communion, kneeling, watching somebody doing a liturgical dance… None of that is important at that moment. 

It’s all about those vows.

Check this out: In every wedding I officiate, I have to slow everything down when the dad brings the bride down to the altar, because this part is important. They stop, he holds his daughter’s hand, and they make the first vow. 

What people forget is they didn’t make one set of vows on their wedding day—they made two. The second set of vows are to your spouse, but the first set of vows were to God. 

After the ministerial charge, the minister says:

Chris, do you take this woman to be your wedded wife? And do you honestly promise before God and these witnesses that you will love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and that—forsaking all others for her alone—you will perform unto her all the respect that a husband owes to his wife, until God, by death, shall separate you?

I will.

Remember, that’s a binding oath. What did Jesus say? Let your yes be yes and your no be no, not, “By God in heaven, I love this woman!”

It was just… “Yes.” Right? Right.

Then the minister says to the woman: 

Do you take this man to be your wedded husband?…

It’s the same exact thing. When the bride says she will, here’s the next question: 

Who giveth this woman to be married?

A father will not let his daughter go until this guy makes it out to God. Why would he? 

I’m never going to let my daughter marry a man who doesn’t make a vow to God to keep her. And I’m never going to let my son marry a woman who doesn’t take a vow to obey him. 

They don’t even have the same language. The groom vows to keep; the bride vows to obey. Many women feel like the obedience thing is hard, but the man has the heavier onus. 

You’ve got to keep her. For the rest of your life, your mission is to keep her. Getting her and keeping her are two different things. 

Think about it. In the wedding ceremony, the woman is not released to that man until they confess to God that they’re going to take care of each other. What happens when you give your life to Christ? You have to make a confession that you will live for Him. Only then does the Holy Spirit release you into a relationship with Jesus. It’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit that brings a person to Christ, but until you confess that you’ll live your life for Him, you’re not released into the relationship.

So, 50% of the vows that are made that day are to God. The other 50% are made to each other. Did we forget that? It’s a blur! Do you remember that your first vow was to God before you even made that vow to that bride, that husband? 

Because then, the minister says, 

Therefore, since it is the agreement of Chris and Rhianna to be husband and wife, please join right hands and repeat after me.

It’s a handshake!

Not only did you give your word, you shook on it. Look at how legal and binding this is!

Now repeat after me, before God and these witnesses, the marriage vows. I, Chris, take the Rihanna to be my wedded wife […]. 

Now you’re looking at the officiant, who—don’t forget, is a re-presentation of God. So you’re telling God, this is the person that I commit to being with for the rest of my life. Then you tell each other you’ll take care of each other for the rest of your lives.

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, and to love and to cherish, until death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance and there too, I pledge thee my faith.

Rings exchanged are exchanged. Then there’s the pronouncement:

For as much as Chris and Rihanna have consented together in holy wedlock, and having witnessed the same before God in this covenant, and there to have pledged their faith, each to each other, and have declared the same by joining hands and by giving and receiving rings, I pronounce that they are now husband and wife together in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Why is the Trinity pronounced? 

Because the Trinity is there.

Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder. 

I’ll never add anything to the Bible or take it away. But here’s what I like to whisper after that pronouncement, “Even you.” You don’t just have to guard against the people that try to come in and break you up from the outside. You have to guard against what comes up in your heart to break you up from the inside… Including you.

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