Traditional Wedding Vows And Their Meanings

Traditional Wedding Vows And Their Meanings January 11, 2019

The traditional wedding vows are packed with meaning. Read about some of these vows and what they mean.

The Bride of Christ

The church is called the Bride of Christ because she is betrothed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and someday the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, will come for His Bride and seat her at the banquet of the marriage feast of the Lamb of God. At the consummation of the marriage, the Bride will “rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7), then the angel of the Lord will say, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God” (Rev 19:9). The Bridegroom and the Bride will be joined together in the Kingdom, reigning and ruling under Christ as kings and priests of the Most High God (Rev 1:5, 3:21, 5:10, 20:6). The church submits to Christ because He is the Head of the Church, but the church will have responsibilities in the coming Kingdom of God after the New Jerusalem descends out of heaven (Rev 21:1-4).

Who presents this woman to be married to this man?

This is basically seeking the permission of the father because that was the custom in many places around the world, and in some places, this is still the custom where the father brings his daughter to the groom. Some of the most ancient wedding vows can be traced back to the manuals of the medieval church in England.

A New Covenant

Marriage is not really a contract but a covenant, where a permanent, loving relationship is established that only death can end. That’s the way it was in the beginning when God said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). In Matthew 19:5, Jesus apparently quotes this verse, saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” He is to leave his old family as she is, and they both are to cleave to one another. Since they leave their “father and mother,” to begin a brand new family, the old family should not try to cleave to their children. By the children leaving their father and mother, it may also mean that their family doesn’t interfere in the children’s family. Many divorces are the result of outside forces, much of which comes from one or both of the spouse’s families. They must leave and cleave, forsaking all others. So too, once we are born from above (John 3:3-7), must leave our old family and cleave or cling to Christ. Of course I don’t’ mean we walk out on our unbelieving family members, but we are now first and foremost, the children of God. We are under the New Covenant, established by Jesus’ sinless life, death, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-7), and we too must forsake all others for Him (Matt 6:33). You give up your life to save it, but if you try to save your life, you will lose it (Matt 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35), meaning eternal life. There is no more important and greater relationship to have that having a personal, saving relationship through Jesus Christ. There is positively no other way into the kingdom (John 6:44; Acts 4:12).

I Need a Witness

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God and in the company of these witnesses, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony. Marriage is something that should not be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, and solemnly. If any person can show just cause as to why these two should not be joined together, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace.

Obviously, if there is just cause, then someone should speak up, but the fact is, they should have spoken up long ago if something was wrong. One example is where a man had just married some woman, but the fact was that he was already married to another woman…and another, and another! That case would be a prime example of speaking up. The fact that joining the two to become one flesh is done before God and many witnesses is important because by witnesses a thing is established (Deut 19:15; 2 Cor 13:1).

Leave and Cleave

In the first marriage ceremony it said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). The Hebrew word for cleave (“dabaq”) means: “to stick to, to join with,” or “to stay with!” It is intended to be a permanent relationship, and when it is cleaved or rent in half, both suffer loss, sorrow, and pain. Jesus spoke about marriage, saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:7-8). Leaving their father and mother, they begin a new family, so the families they leave should not interfere in this new family. They must leave and be allowed to cleave to their spouse. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” and this is especially true when it’s about the Spirit of God.

Ring Ceremony

What token of your love do you offer?

Best man presents the ring to the groom. Bridesmaid presents the ring to the bride.

The ring is symbolic of an unbroken circle and it remains unbroken until death. It is a token of one’s love but it’s also a symbol to the world that, “This one’s taken.”

Groom places ring on bride’s finger, then, he repeats after the minister:

With this Ring….I thee wed….As I give you my hand….I give you my heart…I give it unconditionally and eternally…As I give you this ring….I give you my love, exclusively. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bride places ring on groom’s finger, then, she repeats after the minister.

With this Ring….I thee wed….As I give you my hand….I give you my heart…I give it unconditionally and eternally…As I give you this ring….I give you my love, exclusively. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Traditional Vows

Minister (to Groom) Will you have this woman as your lawfully wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health; for richer and for poorer, forsaking all others, and keep yourself only to her, so long as you both shall live?

Groom: I do.

(Minister (to Bride) Will you have this man as your lawfully wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor, and keep him, in sickness and in health; for richer and for poorer, forsaking all others, and keep yourself only to him, so long as you both shall live?

Bride: I do.

[Groom and bride join hands]

What God has now joined together, let no one put asunder. And now, by the power vested in me by the state and Almighty God, I pronounce you husband and wife, and introduce to you, John and Jackie Smith. You may now kiss the bride!

Conclusion

Joining two people into holy matrimony is a very special occasion, and one that is to be unique among all earthly relationships. The only relationship that is of greater importance is having a personal relationship with God, and that is only possible through Jesus Christ. As our Lord said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44), so we must come to the Father only through Christ because “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.


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  • Thanks. This is an effective response to the anti-same-sex marriage arguments that say that marriage is only about children. (The argument says that since a same-sex couple can’t, by themselves, make children, their marriage would be invalid.) If that argument were true, you’d see evidence of it in the marriage vows.

    • Maltnothops

      Agreed.

      It is also hard to read the Adam/Eve story without concluding that Eve was a transgendered clone.