My Orthodox wedding was over two years ago. In that time my wife and I have had the typical ups and downs. We’ve gone through the loss of a child together. Through it all, we have leaned on each other and our Orthodox faith to help us through the rough spots.
I can say without a doubt that having been married in an Orthodox wedding has helped me grow as a person and as a Christian.
marriage in the age of bridezilla
Marriage in America has become a battleground. For every church wedding, there are ten weddings on the beach, atop a mountain, or in some other photogenic location. The wedding industry is a multi-million dollar business catering to our vanity and narcissism. Brides want to outdo their friends in extravagance. Grooms are accessories in rented suits.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage is now legal in the U.S. via judicial fiat, splitting the country along ideological lines. Businesses are sued out of existence for refusing to accommodate same-sex weddings. Some Orthodox priests have ceased the practice of signing civil marriage licenses, for fear that the government will compel them to perform same-sex weddings.
And let’s not get into the sky-high divorce statistics among heterosexual couples. Marriage in America is a contract that we break at will. Divorce severs families and scars children.
orthodox wedding as a sacrament
Please understand that I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s marriage. I know plenty of people who have been married for decades to the same person. They have strong, healthy, godly unions. I also know first-hand the pain and destruction that comes from divorce. If anything, I’m a perfect example of how not to do Protestant marriage.
It was within the Orthodox Church that I truly began to understand that marriage is a sacrament. It’s not some invention of the state or a civil arrangement for the sharing of property. And it’s certainly not an expression of one’s personal style.
Every moment in an Orthodox wedding reminds the participants that they are joining together in Christ. The couple is being unified to one another and to the Church in a way that no mere exchange of vows can do.
While I’m not trying to diminish anyone else’s wedding – even my own – I can say from experience that an Orthodox wedding grounds the couple in the knowledge that they are entering into a holy union.
an orthodox marriage
I was the one that led my wife into Orthodoxy. I was eager where she was cautious, and headstrong where she was thoughtful. Now that we are Orthodox Christians, the tables have turned.
When I am doubting or fearful, she is calm and peaceful. I wonder at the depth of her prayer life while I struggle with my own. She shows me in a kind gesture more of Christ than all my studying.
This is not to say that others do not have the same. But as someone who has fallen into the trap of marriage as a contract, I can truly say that our marriage is a sacrament.
And it’s one that in a few short weeks, God willing, will bear fruit.
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