This homily was given by Peter Jones at the wedding of his daughter, Eowyn, to David Stoddard on December 27, 1997.

A recent book by secular commentator, Wellesley grad, and single mother Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love, says: Not only is marriage in danger of disappearing . . .  Though we do not realize it yet, it already has . . .  By expanding the definition of marriage to the point of meaninglessness, courts are gradually redefining marriage out of existence (p.131). David and Eowyn, you marry today in an ethos of egalitarian androgyny and sexual confusion. You marry in a culture that has "redefined marriage out of existence." What you are doing today is profoundly counter-cultural, and thus extremely significant. Ephesians 5:22-33, this bright jewel of Scriptural revelation regarding marriage, calls to us across the centuries. How surprisingly appropriate are the three lessons it teaches us: Marriage is Total Commitment
Yesterday, you could have awakened, wondered what you were about to do and called the whole thing off--as happened to a New York socialite whose beau did not show but took the airplane to the honeymoon venue--alone, the cad! And so the would-be bride and her guests celebrated the sixty thousand dollar reception without him. This morning that option remained for you--though not the $60,000 reception. Tomorrow morning it will no longer be open. Today, before the Lord, the swearer of unbreakable oaths, you totally commit yourselves to each other "till death do you part."
We do not here celebrate animalistic coupling, as if you were rabbits (or the Hollywood equivalent, serial monogamy).
In days ahead, emotions will sometimes flag and seemingly intractable problems nag. Our love is weak and we are insecure. In Isaiah 49:15, God's people, His bride, says, "'The Lord has forsaken me'" God answers: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?" You may have read about the lady who put her baby in a car seat on the roof of her car while she fiddled for her keys, and then drove off. The car seat and the bambino, like humpty dumpty, had a great fall--in the middle of a busy intersection . . .  The Lord continues with all-knowing realism: "Though she may forget, I will not forget you." Jesus will never divorce you because, as the perfect lover, he died for you. His commitment is total. "I will never leave you or forsake you. No one can ever snatch you from his hand." How can your commitment to each other be any different, since you both know that you are only sinners saved by grace? Marriage is Teamwork
There is a notion these days about males and females, that apart from one or two biological functions, we are interchangeable. The gender revolutionaries of our modern Nanny state, having succeeded in the schools and universities, are now trying his ideological experimentation in the army, where morale and combat readiness are at an all-time low. The youngest child in our family, Toby (10) has played on soccer teams for whom the appropriate Bible verse would be, "all we like sheep have gone stray," as the entire team rushes around like a mindless herd of little lambs wherever the ball happens to bounce, unable to heed the coach shouting, "Keep your positions!" Forgetting to play positions is a surefire way to lose a soccer match, unless both teams do it. The egalitarian feminist interpretation of Ephesians 5 makes its rounds in the churches these days. It claims an interchangeability which requires no heads, no gender-specific roles and only mutual submission. But such a theory does not work--on more than one level. At the very least it produces exegetical mayhem. The model of marriage, as revealed by the Lord, is Christ and the Church. If our interchangeability rule is applied to this model, we would deduce that the Church is the head of Christ; that the Church gives herself up in death for Christ in order that she might present him holy, blameless, without stain or wrinkle.
Submit to him as you would to Christ. Be submissive to the Word of God as it teaches you with all gentleness the role of wife and mother.
In our radically egalitarian culture and a church that follows in hot pursuit, David and Eowyn, as the coach would say: "Keep your position." You are not, according to Ephesians, interchangeable. David, be a faithful self-sacrificing priest, not a macho male for your wife. See it as your great calling to nourish her and sanctify her with the Word of God so that more and more she will come to resemble her Savior, Christ. Eowyn, respect this spiritual role David has. Submit to him as you would to Christ. Be submissive to the Word of God as it teaches you with all gentleness the role of wife and mother. Seek and expect to see Christ in David. Marriage Has Transcendent Meaning
When you stand before the Lord, He will not ask you: Did you have great success in the eyes of the world? Did you have lots of kids who all went to Harvard and Wellesley? Were you able to give expression to all your fantasies and desires, pursue your individual careers, and make the payments too? He will ask you, "Did you show in your marriage the mystery of Christ's love to the church?" We do not here celebrate animalistic coupling, as if you were rabbits (or the Hollywood equivalent, serial monogamy). As you maintain your different, complementary roles; as you stay committed exclusively to each other for your entire lives (even in tough times), in obedience to Scripture; as you model both the self-giving love of Christ as a husband and the submissive service of the Church as a wife, you both preach the Gospel. The Bible constantly affirms that God and the Creation are not mutually interchangeable. Only God made the heavens and the earth. Only God created Man male and female. Only God can regulate marriage declaring that a man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife. If only the non-interchangeable Creator God could do this, it follows that only this non-interchangeable God can redeem us. I end my exhortation with a prayer for David and Eowyn, applicable to all who are married here today: One that day when you, David, present Eowyn radiant to the Lord, without spot or blemish, after you both have been totally committed to each other, having practiced biblical teamwork in the context of marriage's transcendent meaning, may your faithfulness have as its reward that there would be many at the great heavenly wedding feast of the Lamb--including your own children--who are there because they have seen lived out in your marriage, in some humble but tangible way, the mystery of the transcendent, amazing love story of Christ and his bride.

To God be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

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