Tonight Amy and I were wrapping up a premarital counseling session, when I realized I never posted my first wedding sermon. Last October, I performed the ceremony for Luke Daugherty and Ann Hausam, two close friends of our family, and key members of Karis. Here is the sermon:
As a church planter, I am amazed by the hilarious, yet tragic, ways church plants attempt to appeal to non-church goers. They have series on “five facts for financial security,” “eight paths to perfect parenting,” and, of course, something like “4 simple rules for a happy marriage.” These, I’m convinced, give the wrong idea about the Christian life. Come to Jesus, and everything will be fine. Just for fun, however, I’m going to give you “four simple rules” today. Simple they may be. But I think you’ll find that simplistic they are not.
First, some background. Ephesians 5:31’s statement that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” comes straight from Genesis 2:24. Why are Christians so hung up about marriage? It’s because it’s rooted in the created order. Only after Eve was created and marriage was instituted was everything perfectly good. Then and only then did God rest. Everything was perfect. Man and woman were in the garden, living out their divinely-instituted roles, ruling as vice-regents over all of God’s creation.
However, as we know, the fall happened. Adam and Eve sinned, bringing death. All of creation was corrupted by sin, including the institution of marriage. The divinely-created, complementary roles of man and woman were distorted. Genesis 3:16 says, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” In other words, Eve would now try to usurp Adam’s authority; Adam would now try to abuse his.
Found, however, in the verse just before, in Genesis 3:15, is an amazing promise. It reads, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” We see here, in the fall narrative, a promise of restoration of the fallen creation through Christ Jesus the Lord.
In the last book of the Bible, in Revelation 21:1, John the apostle says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” In chapters 21 and 22, John weds the concepts of the city of God with the garden of God. The tree of life humanity was removed from through its expulsion from the garden is there in the new garden, the new heaven and new earth. At the beginning of the Bible, we see God’s perfect creation. At the end of the Bible, we see the restoration of God’s perfect creation through Christ. The storyline of the Bible flows from creation to fall to redemption to restoration.
Luke and Ann, you have heard us make much of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our church. We have talked much together about how it stands as the point of the Bible and provides a mirror in which we can understand ourselves and a window through which we can understand all of reality. What is this gospel? It is the good news of the redemption of Christ that restores God’s creation. Here in Ephesians 5, we see both. We see God’s good creation. We see Christ’s redemption.
Now, back to marriage. Luke and Ann, you have a twofold privilege before you through this holy commitment you are making to one another today. First, you may demonstrate the redemption of marriage through the gospel. Second, you may illustrate the gospel of redemption through marriage. Let me repeat. First, you may demonstrate the redemption of marriage through the gospel. Second, you may illustrate the gospel of redemption through marriage. In other words, you may show, through the power of the gospel, what marriage was intended to look like. And, you may show, through your marriage, the gospel that brings it, along with the entire creation, back to the way things ought to be. Adam and Eve, in the garden, before the fall—you can demonstrate that to the world. Christ our Lord, on the cross, undoing the fall—you can demonstrate that, too. What a privilege!
Now, back to our simple rules. I have two for each of you this afternoon that are found here in Ephesians chapter 5, as well as in Genesis 1-2. First, Luke, demonstrate the redemption of marriage and illustrate the gospel of redemption through leading Ann. Show those around you, through Christ’s work in you, how Adam led Eve, without sin, as her head. Show how a man who has been changed by the gospel leads his wife and family. Proclaim to the world how the power of Christ redeems marriage. Show God’s original intention.
In addition, illustrate to those around you, through Christ’s work in your life, how He leads His people, the church, as her Head. Illustrate how He guides her and provides for her. Show how He shepherds her. Illustrate how He leads those He has redeemed.
Second, Luke, demonstrate the redemption of marriage and illustrate the gospel of redemption through loving Ann. Proclaim to the world, through your care for Ann, what marriage looked like before the fall. It was bad leadership that led to the fall, but it was bad love that resulted. Now male leadership tends toward harshness and abuse. Demonstrate to those around you, through Christ’s gospel at work in you, what true headship looks like—it’s leading lovingly. Show what God really intended.
Also, illustrate to those that look on, through Christ’s powerful gospel, how He loves His church. His loving is displaying by His laying down of His life for her on the cross. He gave His life that we might be holy. Sacrifice yourself that she may be holy. Nourish her and care for her, as Christ does us. Illustrate to those around you what Christ did on the cross and continues to do for us, His redeemed.
Luke, as Doug Wilson has said, “A man finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership.” He can’t help but lead. And, as he also states, “A husband can never stop talking about Christ and church.” How will you lead? Will it be lovingly, as God intended? And will it speak the right things about who Christ is? This is your challenge today.
Third, Ann, demonstrate the redemption of marriage and illustrate the gospel of redemption through following Luke. Yes, the dreaded “S”-word is in our passage today, but it’s not only there. It’s in Genesis 2, as well. Eve is called Adam’s “helper.”
Demonstrate to those around you, through God’s work in you, what it looks like to be a biblical woman. Submit to Luke, and not just when asked to attend a Wilco concert. Follow him in decisions, big and small. Give people a glimpse of how beautiful Eve was before she ate the apple.
And, illustrate to those looking on how the church follows Christ. Yes, we’re sinners, and we do it imperfectly, but we don’t demand Christ submit to us. We follow Him. He is our Head. Illustrate how the church follows her Redeemer.
Fourth, Ann, demonstrate the redemption of marriage and illustrate the gospel of redemption through respecting Luke. Again, proclaim to the world, through your trust in Luke, what marriage looked like before the fall. Eve expressed insubordination in eating the apple. Disrespect resulted. After the fall, fallen women tend toward bitterness and resentment. Show those around you how Eve must have interacted with her loving leader.
And, Ann, illustrate to the world how the church respects Christ. True, the church worships Christ, and, as part of the church, you will never worship Luke. But you are called to respect Him as a leader, and, through that, you can give the world a glimpse of how the church looks at her redeemer. Illustrate the respect of the redeemed for the Redeemer, Ann. He needs your respect as a leader, as you need his love as a follower.
Ann, no matter what society says, you can’t escape the way God as made you and the role God intends for you. And you will always be shouting to the world, through your conduct, how the church follows her loving Lord. This is your challenge, as well.
There you have your four simple rules. They may be simple to grasp, but they’re certainly not easy to implement. It is hard to lead lovingly. It is hard to follow respectfully. Life doesn’t suddenly become rosy, and your marriage doesn’t immediately become dreamy, when you give your life to Christ. But it brings unspeakable joy when you have the remarkable privilege of demonstrating the redemption of marriage and illustrating the gospel of redemption.
Let your marriage do that, Luke and Ann. Let the gospel shine in your marriage, my dear friends, that the world might see and worship. To do this, you will need the fellowship of the community of the gospel. Never underestimate your need for God’s church to encourage and challenge you. And, when you fail, turn to that glorious gospel. He redeemed you, my brother and sister!