This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this free resource! See full disclosure here.
If you’re of my generation and active in certain theological circles, you’re probably familiar with John Piper and have at least heard of his book, “Don’t Waste Your Life”. I read it when I was 15 and it definitely had an impact. In it Piper laments the tragedy of people who live their lives for meaningless pursuits instead of living their lives for the glory of God.
The catechism asks the question, “What is man’s primary purpose?” and gives the answer, “Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” I knew the purpose of life, but until I read Piper’s book, I had never been gripped by it with so much intensity, both in my desires to fulfill it and my sobering awareness that I presently wasn’t.
The fact is all of life is worship and all of life is meant to glorify God. How we do the everyday things of life, how we celebrate milestones and the forming of families, says much about our values and what we’re living for.
Your wedding provides a tremendous opportunity to share the gospel with unsaved loved ones and to exalt Christ in the very beginning of your marriage, and this will hopefully set the stage for a lifelong commitment to the glory of God in your marriage and family life.
Three Practical and Tangible Ways to Glorify God in Your Wedding
1. Make the gospel clear in the ceremony.
There will be both believers and unbelievers present, some who wouldn’t come to church with you no matter how many times you asked them, but wouldn’t dream of missing your wedding. You have a really unique chance to share the gospel, and the picture of Christ and the church in marriage lends itself well to doing so. If you are a believer, the gospel is a treasure, a treasure you ought to desire others to possess. So talk to your pastor about the message he plans to share in the ceremony and your desire for the gospel to be clear in it.
2. Sing hymns that exalt Christ.
Congregational singing perhaps isn’t so common in weddings, but it’s an element that can be included to create a beautifully worshipful atmosphere. As I think back to my own wedding, the whole thing was rich with meaning and each part was so precious to me, but I know the singing together was one part that stood out to many who were present, perhaps because it isn’t very common. My husband and I each chose a favorite hymn (“In Christ Alone” and “All I Have is Christ”) and also chose “Amazing Grace”, a hymn that many, even unbelievers, are familiar with. When my sister got married this past summer, she and my brother-in-law opened their wedding ceremony with “Oh Praise the Name”. The feeling of worship was overwhelming. Your wedding is worship because all of life is worship. Make it clear Who the object of your worship is.
3. Use traditional vows.
I’m sorry, I know this might rankle some people, but I’ve never heard vows written solely by a couple that truly captured the significance of marriage in the way that traditional vows do. You’re not here to promise to be best pals and make each other laugh. You’re here to promise to love, honor, and cherish one another for better or for worse ’til death do you part. I’m not saying that you can’t add a personal touch – I’ve seen some really beautiful and meaningful variations – but I am saying that there are some basic elements that should be present and that the promises you make should be promises to keep. You don’t need to vow to never again make imitation mashed potatoes out of cauliflower. It might gain a laugh, but it kind of detracts from the solemn beauty of what is being promised.
After the Wedding
In making your vows, praising God with singing, and sharing the gospel in the wedding ceremony, you’ve made a strong statement about what you believe and what is valuable to you. People, even unbelievers will now have a certain standard they hold you to and the way you continue in your life and marriage will have an impact on your witness.
In all the planning of the ceremony don’t forget about your reception. There’s nothing wrong with having a good time at a wedding reception. It is a celebration after all. But in the celebration don’t create an atmosphere that makes it hard for your guests to honor God and easy for them to dishonor Him. You’re not responsible for other people’s actions, and I’m not going to tell you exactly how to plan your reception or what you should and shouldn’t do, but think about the crowd you have and about how your values are reflected in your choices in music, dancing, alcohol, and how you do activities like the garter toss or other entertaining pieces that are usually part of a reception. In entertaining your guests be sure you are also honoring and respecting one another and honoring God. It should be a joyous occasion, but not a raucous one.
The Rest of Your Lives
I know that sometimes as a young person from a Christian family grows up, unbelieving family members may wonder if the kids are really as crazy as the parents. They might not really know where you stand at the beginning of your life together unless you make it known.
And if you do make your faith clear during your wedding, the whole of the rest of your life and marriage is a witness to that truth. You won’t be perfect, and people, especially those close to you, will see your faults and your failures.
But hopefully they will also see you becoming more like Jesus, responding with grace, humility, and repentance when the usual difficulties and disagreements of life create rifts.
Hopefully they’ll see you truly loving each other for better or for worse. Hopefully they see husbands modeling sacrificial love and wives modeling submissive respect and both modeling tenderness, delight, and absolute faithfulness to one another.
Hopefully they’ll see you welcoming children as gifts from God with precious, eternal souls to nurture, not resented as mere inconveniences or leeches sucking away at their bank accounts.
Hopefully they see you as members of the body of Christ loving not just those of God’s family who are like you, but those who are not like you, because the earthly things of life are not the most important thing you have in common. The love of Christ, both His for you and yours for Him, is the most important thing you have in common. You are bound together by the blood of Christ, which creates a commitment even stronger than the blood ties of family.
None of those things make sense apart from the gospel. Sometimes your loved ones will see the way you live and just scratch their heads. Sometimes the way you live may even invite ridicule and conflict. But sometimes the way you live will draw others to you. They’ll think back to your wedding and they’ll know why you live as you do, and perhaps you’ll have an opportunity to again share the gospel with them.
God’s Word tells us to do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31). Your faithful witness, your glorifying God in your marriage starts with your wedding. So don’t waste it.
A few resources for those who are married, thinking about getting married, planning to be married, or planning a wedding.
“What’s More Important Than a Wedding?” sermon by Voddie Baucham
“We Two Are One” sermon series by Alistair Begg
“This Momentary Marriage” book by John Piper
“101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged” book by H. Norman Wright