Summary: Discusses what it means to have a "Help Meet"
Marriage Vows: Accepting Your Helpmeet
Last week my message dealt with the Blood Covenant. I shared with you why I personally think that a marriage is a blood covenant and should not entered into lightly. This is part 2 of the covenant message and we will be looking at the words we say during the marriage ceremony and what we actually agree to when we say them. These words are referred to as vows although in essence they are actually covenants. The term means “a solemn promise, especially one made to God.” When we choose to marry, we have in mind the type of person that would be fit us. We look at several characteristics of the individual, spiritual, physical and emotional normally rank at the top of the list. We have a list of things the person should be able to do as well as a list of things that we do not want that person to be doing. All of these things are our attempt to find a suitable partner. Webster’s dictionary defines partner as “one who joins in an activity with another or others.” So when we repeat the marriage covenants, we are agreeing to take the other person as our partner, a full participating partner. Some of you who work in business may be familiar with partnerships. Some business partnerships are equal partners while some are not. Some partnership may have a silent partner, one, which does not have say in the everyday actions of the business. This is not what God meant for a marriage, although some people believe that the wife is a silent partner. Before we look at what God’s intention is for marriage, I want to first walk quickly through the traditional Christian marriage vows – just to refresh your memory.
I. Traditional Christian Marriage Vows
One point I want to make at this time is this: the traditional marriage ceremony that we see in our times is different from the marriage ceremony of ancient times. During those times, most marriages were by agreement between two families. Once the agreement had been met, the woman left her family and went to live with her new husband. During the Roman Empire, there were many common law or free marriages. The father would deliver the bride to the groom. The Romans who were wealthy would often sign documents consisting of listings of property rights and letting all know that they wanted this union to be legalized and not to be thought of as a common law marriage. This was the beginning of the official recording of marriages.
The Church did not get involved with marriages until the ninth century. English weddings in the thirteenth century among the upper class became religious events. In 1563 the Council of Trent required that Catholic marriages be celebrated at a Catholic church by a priest and before two witnesses. By the eighteenth century the wedding was a religious event in all countries in Europe. In Colonial times in North America, the customs of the old countries were followed. There were some that only wanted a civil ceremony and not a religious ceremony and the Colonists who wanted civil marriages passed laws to this affect. Civil and common law marriages are very common today. With this background information, you see that the traditional marriage ceremony is only a few hundred years old. Now lets examine the actual marriage vows and the meaning behind the words.