In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We just heard the words of Jesus from Matthew’s Gospel. Luke and Holly, the reason why you are here today is built into creation by the Creator of all things. As Jesus says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'” (Matthew 19:4-5, ESV)? There is nothing more primary, nothing more basic than the marriage of a man and a woman. The home you will make together is the basis for all human community. That is why God speaks so highly of marriage and why Jesus emphasizes it the way that He does: the gift of your union together and the gift of a third from that union are two of the greatest gifts that God gives to people. You are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
That command, not to separate what God has joined together, is at the heart of what it means to be human. The unity of God with the man and the woman in the Garden was perfect; God had joined them to Himself as people made in His Image, the crown of His creation. And there was a single command, “Do not eat of this particular tree.” Behind that command was the one that Jesus gives, “Do not separate what God has joined together, God and man.” But separate was exactly what our first parents did. They cut the perfect unity between themselves and God; they tore apart the community that God had created between Him and them. And we have done no less. We have separated ourselves from God by our own sin, and the result of that sin is very often the separating of husbands and wives, parents and children. I don’t need to tell you what sort of havoc is created by divorce; the bitter consequences are all around us.
And in the midst of all this separation, you, Luke and Holly, have come here to join yourselves in marriage and have that union blessed by God. Why does Jesus place such a serious demand on marriage: What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate? Because, besides creating marriage as the basis for human society, Christian marriage is an image of something even greater: the joining of God to His people in Jesus Christ. Your marriage is a picture of the love of Christ for His Church and vice-versa, as St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5. In Jesus Christ, very literally, the separation is healed between God and man. Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of the Father, and when He was born of the Virgin, He reunited the timeless God with His created people. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…” (1 Timothy 2:5-6a, ESV). This is the mystery of all mysteries, that in Jesus Christ, God and man are no longer two, but one flesh. And here, Luke and Holly, is the only basis for a Christian marriage: both of you, along with all people, have been ransomed by Jesus from sin and death, and He has healed the separation between you and God. And your marriage, lived in Jesus Christ, and within His Bride, the Church, will be the image of this love, as we pray: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” You, forgiven and joined together with God in Christ, are now joined together with each other, and you also must forgive each other as Christ has forgiven you. May God work in you both to will and to do this, for as long as you both shall live.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.