When Does Marriage Begin?

I love these paragraphs from Walter Wangerin on “When does marriage begin?” and the significance of the marriage vows:

Marriage Begins with the Vow

Listen: marriage begins when two people make the clear, unqualified promise to be faithful, each to the other, until the end of their days. That spoken promise makes the difference. A new relationship is initiated. Marriage begins when each vows to commit herself, himself, unto the other and to no other human in this world: “I promise you my faithfulness, until death parts us.” That vow, once spoken, once heard, permits a new, enduring trust: each one may trust the vow of the other one. And that vow forms the foundation of the relationship to be built upon it hereafter.

A promise made, a promise witnessed, a promise heard, remembered, and trusted — this is the groundwork of marriage. Not emotions. No, not even love. Not physical desires or personal needs or sexuality. Not the practical fact of living together. Not even the piercing foresight or some peculiar miracle of All-seeing God. Rather, a promise, a vow, makes the marriage. “I promise you my faithfulness, until death parts us.”

Here is a marvelous work, performed by those who are made in the image of God — for we create, in this promise, a new thing, a changeless stability in an ever-changing world. We do the thing that God does, establishing a covenant with another human being: we ask faith in our faithfulness to that covenant. We transfigure the relationship thereafter, transfiguring ourselves, for we shape our behaviors by the covenant. A new ethic has begun for each of us. We have called forth a spiritual house in which each of us may dwell securely. Whether we know it or not, it is a divine thing we do, and it is holy.

From Walter Wangerin, As For Me and My House, pp. 18-19.
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Related posts:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?


  1. Sharon Gamble says:

    I love this, too. It nails it. The spoken word is a powerful thing and when we speak a covenant vow in front of witnesses and God above…it means something big. It has nothing to do with feelings or whether we were really “ready” or whether we really knew each other well enough. We committed. It’s done. I know there are times when things go wrong and a partner is unfaithful or just up and leaves, but for better or for worse until death do us part means what it says!

  2. Margaret says:

    A friend of ours recently wrote a letter to the church, stating he took his marriage vows seriously, and he honors his wife, and those vows, in a wonderful way as he ministers to her faithfully and lovingly. Day by day, he visits her in a home, where she suffers from alzheimers. His love and promises to her remain absolutely faithful, even as he suffers in loneliness for her. Praise God for such as these, fulfilling their vows under difficult circumstances.

    We personally praise God for our marriage of 55 years. What joy to be together for a lifetime.

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