Dear Cathy and Gale

The Book of Common Prayer calls marriage a "holy estate which Christ adorned and beautifiedwith his presence and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee." I like that very much, calling marriage a holy estate. And I'll tell you why.

You, Gale, love Cathy, and you, Cathy, love Gale.
The two of you have a beautiful thing going.
Between the two of you there is a sweet harmony of lives.
But your love does not marriage make.
Your love may begin your marriage,
but it does not make it.
You do not love in order to have a marriage.
You have a marriage in order to love.
If you think you can build your marriage
upon your love, you will be in for a rude awakening.

It is rather the other way around.
Your love will eventually be built upon your marriage.
If your marriage were to rest on your romantic love,
it would be in trouble from the start.
For romance is a feeling, a very noble and beautiful
feeling, but still… a feeling.
And you cannot make a feeling the basis of your whole

For feelings fluctuate.
They come and go.
They go up and they go down.
They grow strong and they grow weak.
They are born and they die.

Marriage is different.
Marriage is the solid structure God provides to hold your
fluctuating love.
Marriage is the holy estate in which
your love comes and goes, and comes again.
Marriage is a holy estate with its own laws
into which you may enter, but which you do not create
and cannot dissolve.
Marriage was there long before you ever were,
and it will still be there long after you are gone.

Within marriage, God wants you to experience and mirror
the greatest mystery of all—
the mystery of Christ's love of the church.
Within marriage, God wants you to do for each other
what Christ did for the church.
He wants you to imitate Christ's sacrificial love.

Marriage, in other words, is a place
where you are called to imitate Christ.
The art of married living is the art of imitating Christ.
Therefore, as Christ loves the church,
so you, Gale, must love Cathy, and
so you, Cathy, must love Gale.
In health and in sickness;
in good times and in bad times.
And in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

John Timmer is pastor of Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Reformed Worship 16 © June 1990, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.