A wedding sermon for man and woman...

The Bible says it is better to marry than to burn with passion. But we say that it’s better to live with each other first to determine whether you are “compatible”. We say that it is better to burn with passion than to get married before you have established your career. We say that it is better to give ourselves to lust than to give up the prospect of two high-paying jobs. We even say that it is better to give ourselves to impurity before marriage than for people to think we are weird or to call us "legalists" or "prudes." - Joseph Bayly in a recent wedding sermon

Here's a wedding sermon that, across church history, would have been a yawn. But today it elicits anger and hatred--and from men and women claiming to be Reformed.

How have we gotten to the place that pastors leave out the word 'obey' in the woman's vow and preach sermons to brides that don't mention childbearing and submission?

Speaking in Toledo this past weekend at the Friday Night Bible Study at the home of Bob and Debbie Forney, I pointed out that the weddings I attend nowadays are entirely gender-neutral...

Nothing is said to men-as-men or women-as-women. Just generic nostrums about "love" evacuated of any Biblical content. Any self-sacrifice or glory to God.

This is the fruit of pastors agreeing to disagree over women in leadership over men. The Apostle Paul divided the Church over it, but we make nice with rebels in the hope that we'll be liked and hired and paid. So today, sex is for body part placement and that's it. Sex is to sell clothing and toothpaste and football, but never to live sanctified lives as men and women, boys and girls, and to propogate a godly seed.

We used to neuter our dogs and cats. Now we neuter our wedding vows and sermons, and therefore our sons and daughters, grandsons and grandaughters.

No wonder our sons are all gay. And I'm hoping by now you know there's no accredited academic seminary that can straighten them out.

Comments

Just curious--where's the Scripture reference where wives are specifically told to "obey" their husbands?

Der Suzanne,

"Just curious?" Really?

Here you have the single most important command of Scripture concerning what constitutes godliness in your life as a wife and mother, but you're "just curious" about it?

The obedience God points to on the part of Eve toward Adam as proof of His prohibition against woman teaching or exercising authority over man and His command that a wife obey her husband ought never to be a matter of curiosity to any woman since this obedience is foundational to her being and personhood as eve/woman relating to adam/man.

As you asked, here's one of a number of places where the wife is commanded to obey her husband:

(1 Peter 3:1-7) 1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. 7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

It would be very helpful for you to go to your husband and pastor and elders and tell them that you weren't aware of God's command to woman to submit to man, and that you think they should add this critical component of Christian womanhood to their teaching and preaching and counselling ministries so that the women under their care might begin to know what the nature of sanctification is for themselves.

Love,

Yes, I was curious. And the Scripture you quoted told me nothing I didn't already know. I *love* submission. In fact, my wedding vows were basically Ephesians 5 verbatim. My husband I vowed different things because he is a man and I am a woman and we know that we have different roles in our relationship and in life. I was curious about the word "obey" versus "submit." But thanks for extending to me the benefit of the doubt--oh wait, you didn't. You jumped to conclusions that are far from the truth because I am in a marriage and a church that understand and teach all of those about which you thought I was ignorant.

>>You jumped to conclusions that are far from the truth because I am in a marriage and a church that understand and teach all of those about which you thought I was ignorant.

Dear Suzanne,

I'm pleased to read your statement that you have been taught to obey your husband.

>>the Scripture you quoted told me nothing I didn't already know.

Actually, it did. Your problem is that you didn't understand that the words 'submit' and 'obey' are synonyms. Study the above command of God and you'll see how He uses them in parallel construction: "...being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord...."

Love,

Dear Bros. Bayly,

Thank you again for sharing another blog from which I can harvest several ideas and quotes that wil give punch to the wedding service for my own daughter which (thanks be to God) I shall get to preach sometime in the next year (the engagement occurred last night).

During that service I will preach the wedding homily. I will have specific things to preach to my daughter. And, specific things to preach to my son-in-law. Both families will be rejoicing mightily in our Lord's very good intentions for men and women in marriage.

And, of course, there will be friends of the bride and groom gathered from their previous years in high school and college, a few more folks in the extended family on either side, for whom the entire service will choke painfully in their craws. There will be bugging eyes, and eyebrows crawling toward scalps like wooly worms in the cottonwoods. My only regret is that my failing eyesight will forbid me to watch the shock and awe bubbling behind their blank faces as I face them from the pulpit.

No matter. I've seen it all before.

But, afterwards we will rejoice, and dance, and sing, and generally revel in God's goodness.

Congratulations, Bill, on your next generation continuing in the Covenant!

Love,

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"

This Scriptures tells us that a gender-neutral marriage ceremony is completely appropriate.

That was a very Godly, Christlike answer to Suzanne's question, by the way, full of compassion and kindness.

Actually, you are wrong.

Women are not commanded to submit to me.

Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands.

Single women do not submit to anyone, other than God. It is possible to be a woman without being a wife, you know.

Obviously, I meant

"Women are not commanded to submit to men."

Jack,

I am a single woman, submitted to the authority of the elders of my church.

It is possible to see Galatians 3:28 in context and recognize that it is not the Key to Everything which feminists try to make it into. It is possible to recognize and even delight in the paradox of orthodox Christian anthropology. It is even possible to look at the way feminists inflate the importance of that verse and laugh at the irony when they accuse patriarchists of "prooftexting"!

>>Women are not commanded to submit to men.

Women are to obey the authorities God has placed over them whether those authorities are their husbands, their kings, or their pastors. Thus women are commanded to obey men, but not just any men. Only those men who are their authorities.

Beyond this, though, is the feminine deference women should exercise toward men because Adam was created first, then Eve. At no point should woman live in such a way as to deny her calling as man's helpmate.

As for your statement that gender-neutered marriages are justified by Galatians 3:26, by the same illogic it would not matter whether it were two men getting married to one another. In other words, if there being no male or female in Christ means no authority and submission and no vow to obey for the woman alone, there's also no male or female in marriage itself. Body parts don't matter.

Which is to say that Galatians 3:28 is not God's statement that sex no longer matters for body parts fitting together or authority and submission or vows or specific exhortations in sermons or fathers giving the bride away to the groom (and never vice versa). The same Apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit to write Galatians 3:28 was also inspired to command wives to submit to their husbands in everything. And the pastor who refuses to design and preside over his wedding ceremony in such a way as to himself submit to God's Word in this matter is a hireling. He may have many church members like you who commend and applaud his unfaithfulness, but God will soon judge him. And you.

If you comment again, sign your full name--first and last--so you can own your words as we own ours.

Love,

Rare is the wedding sermon (or wedding banter, afterward, at the reception), where the subject of children is mentioned. In years of attending weddings we heard it once in a PCA wedding (30 years ago) and once in a Roman Catholic wedding (the only RC wedding we ever attended).

The "standard" Reformed marriage service wording does not seem to include the thought of children being an integral part of the couple's lives!

Superb sermon, I wish I could be there when such a sermon is preached.

Dear Jack and Suzanne,

If you read Galatians 3:28 in context you'll see that the statement "there is neither male nor female" refers very specifically to salvation (not marriage). It means that in salvation in Christ every believer is a Jewish male freeman, because Jesus is a Jewish male freeman. Therefore in salvation your ethnicity ("there is neither Jew nor Greek"), sex ("there is neither male nor female") or social status ("there is neither slave nor free") don't matter because you've been given Christ's ethnicity, sex and social status; it's still important to be a Jewish male freeman, but Christ fulfilled that for us, and God sees His Jewishness, maleness and freedom when He sees us.

This is the meaning of Galatians 3:28 in the context of Galatians 3. It has nothing to do with egalitarianism or feminism, and it does not in any way undermine or contradict the clear teaching of male-headship throughout the rest of Scripture.

Abram

Jack,

Your original assertion was that single women are submitted to no one but God, not whether or not submitting to a particular authority was a big deal.

I answered your original assertion, not the later equivocation.

Kamilla

>>>If you read Galatians 3:28 in context you'll see that the statement "there is neither male nor female" refers very specifically to salvation (not marriage)

Galatians 3:28 will come up as a question in any honest mind. But when you look at how nonsensical the sex specific commands of Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Peter would be if Galatians 3:28 is talking about marriage rather than salvation -- not to mention how the condemnations of homosexual perversion in 1 Cor 6 and Romans would have no place -- a child can see that God is not contradicting in Galatians 3:28 what He has said in Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Peter, 1 Corinthians and Romans!

Then you look at the context of Galatians and see how regarding salvation there is no distinction by sex or by rank, and it all fits.

That explanation would satisfy my six-year-old daughter; but if I tried to convince her that Galatians 3:28 contradicts and negates what God says in five other books of the Bible, she would find that the weirdest, oddest, most hard to believe thing ever. But how could I do something so wicked?

I wonder if the stitching started coming undone when we ran from the first half of 1 Cor. 11?

Jack, sometimes the most loving thing is a blunt, to the point response to a flawed exegesis of a verse, such as that you introduced from Galatians. It ignores the basic exegetical point that Scripture explains Scripture--that if we are in doubt about how to apply Galatians 3:28, we look first at its context (which is not about marriage, but rather salvation), and then at verses that match our desired context--say the Ephesians passage on marriage.

Since your exegesis is refuted by not only the context of the verse, and parallel passages, our gracious host was right to call you on it. And loving.

Or would you prefer that he (and I) tiptoe around the obvious and risk leaving you in the control of those who would misuse Scripture?

Indeed, it is a regrettable state that modern weddings are in.

I suppose I attended my first truly/uniquely "Reformed" wedding a year or two back, and have been to once since, both officiated by my pastor. I was encouraged by the instruction given to the bride summed up in "The way for blessing in the end, for you, such and such a person, is obedience." Of course, the ellipsis there is "Obedience to *lawful* or *indifferent* commands. What a refreshing change it was from all the weddings I had before attended.

Thank you for the reminder.

Jack, is this addressed to me?

"And, frankly, I saw nothing loving about the Bayleys response to you. From what I could tell, you were surprised and offended."

If so, I am stymied as to what it refers!

As to submitting to all of mankind, I'd suggest you not play with matches around such an obviously, stupendouslyl big straw man. Your responses are making less and less sense.

Kamilla

Jack, I think you may have confused me with Kamilla at some point. I don't think the Baylys replied to her at all. But they did reply to me and I think that's what you were thinking about when you said:
And, frankly, I saw nothing loving about the Bayleys response to you. From what I could tell, you were surprised and offended.

You're right--I was surprised and offended because they made assumptions that were grossly inaccurate when I was asking a simple question of clarity--to be pointed to the exact places Paul uses "obey" versus "submit," which seem to be few and far between. (Abram also made an assumption about me when he replied to both you and me regarding the Galatians passage which I never mentioned because I, like others, don't think it fits in the way you used it.) I was also surprised that they didn't bother to humble themselves and apologize for the tone they took when responding to me when I pointed out that they were wrong in their assumptions. But it's what I've come to expect here, unfortunately.

Jack: "I know you think you are reading Scripture correctly, but so does everyone. Only God knows the truth about that."

Jack,

You are most ostentatiously humble…you declare the glory of that god who alone can know what he means when he speaks…if only you were around in eternity past to instruct him of what he would be able to reveal. You could have saved him from that cosmic face-plant he just experienced reading your comments. Truly, you are the humble man.

I have now been instructed with the other readers. Color me the same shade of red as your god. He don't know Jack.

>> I was also surprised that they didn't bother to humble themselves and apologize for the tone they took, etc.

SB, if you were indeed "surprised" and feel you have been wronged, perhaps it would be more charitable to extend the benfit of the doubt to the Baylys. I'm sure they would appreciate it more if you confronted them directly with any grievance, real or imagined, that you have against them, rather than complaining about/to them indirectly.

If, on the other hand, "it's what [you've] come to expect here," then I daresay you had it coming.

Sincerely,

>>>"I know you think you are reading Scripture correctly, but so does everyone. Only God knows the truth about that."

Wow! Jack, surely you're not saying that no one can know whether it's better to preach an understanding of Galatians 3:28 that contradicts Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Peter, 1 Corinthians and Romans or to preach an understanding of it that is in harmony with them, are you?

After some instruction in Titus 2 that is much similar to Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, the Holy Spirit through Paul commands the preacher man, saying, "These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you." - Titus 2:15 NASB

But Jack says, "I know you think you are reading Scripture correctly, but so does everyone. Only God knows the truth about that."

If Jack were a pastor, how could he ever be faithful to guard the good deposit? According to Jack, only God knows what the deposit even is!

Jack, you're not goading us toward obedience toward God's commands as you ought. You are trying to draw (wo)men away from obedience, with your it's-all-a-matter-of-opinion error.

Consider your ways, and repent!

This is principled ridicule. Jack is making a mockery of holy things and it is wrong to treat such mockery with tenderness. I do love Jack and I pray for his repentance. But his words are poison and both he and his hearers must be warned.

p.s. The exhortation to repent is in earnest!

My only objection is that I'm not sure how that marriage sermon is going to edify and encourage the couple that is actually getting married. One assumes that the pastor marrying them knows them and wouldn't BE marrying them if they didn't share a biblical understanding of marriage, so I'm not sure why this sermon is necessary in that context, unless the couple getting married isn't really the central audience. I agree with Joseph's sermon in content, I'm just not sure a wedding of two faithful people is the place for that to be preached. Perhaps that is why it upset some people. Just a thought. It's a great sermon!

Whoa! Go, Elliot! :)

>>You jumped to conclusions that are far from the truth because I am in a marriage and a church that understand and teach all of those about which you thought I was ignorant.

Dear Suzanne,

You've jumped to conclusions concerning what I thought, so let me correct you. Never for a moment did I think you were ignorant concerning the numerous commands and exhortations to wives to obey their husbands. Rather, I was convinced you were playing word games with our readers and my response was intended to expose your duplicity. And your original question followed by your further comments following my response belie your protestation that you "*love* submission."

In other words, in both your original question and other comments it's seemed apparent to me that you do not love feminine submission. Which is to say your actions speak louder than your words. Daughters of Sarah do not posit divergence or dichotomy between obedience and submission. Daughters of Sarah don't cop a lilting posture ("just curious") with respect to what Scripture commands concerning one of the principal doctrinal battles of our day. Daughters of Sarah don't play word games with precious doctrines they vociferously claim to love. I could go on pointing to evidence that the spirit you demonstrate here does not seem to be submissiveness to authority, but let me drop it after pointing out, finally, that true daughters of Sarah aren't usually heard protesting that they *love* obeying their husband.

Why not?

Because, knowing their own sinfulness, daughters of Sarah are more likely to say they believe in wifely obedience, but often fail to live it and only rarely love it.

Some might find it shocking that I would, as a pastor, speak to sins of the heart when what's purported to be at issue is simply the word 'obey', but that's what pastors do. We weigh the evidence of our own and others' hearts and, where we see sin, call ourselves and others to the grace of repentance.

I'd end by telling you how hurt and disappointed I am that you jumped to the conclusion that I thought you were "ignorant" concerning Scripture's commands to wives to obey their husbands, but actually I'm not hurt or offended in the slightest. I think it's right that we engage one another, looking beyond words.

Love,

PS: It's worth noting that when you've commented here before http://www.baylyblog.com/2010/11/depressingly-old-and-unchanged-news.html, you signed your name "Lynn" rather than "SB." Would you please identify yourself with your full first and last name to clarify the matter? Who are you--SB (Suzanne) or Lynn? And in the future, please be consistent with whichever name you choose to use. Thank you.

Dear Jack,

In comment 11 above, I told you: "If you comment again, sign your full name--first and last--so you can own your words as we own ours."

Since then, you have commented three times without identifying yourself. This is not to submit to authority, is it?

Well, I'd be pretty foolish if I allowed you to defy my command, so I've pulled your three comments posted since I told you to identify yourself and own your comments, publicly. If you send me an e-mail telling me you didn't see my command, and identifying yourself with your first and last name, I'll be pleased to publish your comments again. Or, if you had seen my command and had defied it but now realize defiance was wrong, and send me your full name with an apology, I'll also be happy to republish your comments.

Regardless of whether the earlier three comments ever get published again, I forbid you to comment again until you correspond with me privately concerning your having done what I forbade. So please don't comment again until the problem has been addressed between us, and privately.

Thank you,

Love,

PS: It's indicative of the necessity of asking some people to sign their real names when they engage in personal accusations that prior to this series of comments under this post, "Jack" commented under another post and signed her name "Jacqueline."

http://www.baylyblog.com/2011/08/forgetting-frowns-and-rememberbing-smil...

Another time she signed her name "JJ."

Morphing from woman to man is the salient point. Of course it's possible "Jack" is married to "Jacqueline" and one or the other of them sign their name "JJ," also; it's possible Jack, Jacqueline, and JJ also share the same computer and the same e-mail address. But I doubt it.

>>>I forbid you to comment again

My first instinct is to bridle at every exercise of authority (which is, like, looney, since I'm a man in authority and under authority myself), but then you realize: hey, there's a Dad in the room, and he's using his authority for our good! Ahhhhh, God's design is good.

What does submission look like in a Godly marriage? And what does submission look like on a regular basis at church?

Denver,

On the left hand side of this page are category headings where you can pull everything that has ever been written on this blog (well over a million words just in the posts as I understand.) There should be plenty there to answer your questions. I would start with the headings of patriarchy, marriage and maybe Christian home.

I think the Westminster Larger Catechism outlines a good definition of submission & obedience, according to our places and stations, beginning with WLC 123. However, it certainly grates against our egalitarian culture which hates authority or the idea that there is a hierarchy of rank in society.

Dear Friends,

Lest there be any doubt, I agree entirely with my brother Tim in what he has said in this thread. Tim has more patience than I and is thus a better shepherd on this blog; he is willing to deal with deception when I throw up my hands and move on. Thanks, brother.

Love,

David

>>>My only objection is that I'm not sure how that marriage sermon is going to edify and encourage the couple that is actually getting married... I'm just not sure a wedding of two faithful people is the place for that to be preached.

Roger,
On the contrary, I can't think of a better place for such a thing to be preached than at a wedding of the faithful. By your logic, a funeral of a beloved saint would not be a good place to warn those assembled about Judgment Day, when actually it's the perfect place because of the testimony of the deceased: Brother X was ready, will you be? Similarly, what a powerful testimony to have the Word preached boldly at a wedding where the bride and groom are in full agreement with it -- what a beautiful opportunity for them to make place during the wedding ceremony for edification of those assembled. It's so loving and God-honoring all around. Just right for a Christian wedding.

>>>to make place during the wedding ceremony for edification of those assembled.

And to be reminded of these truths themselves. Even when everyone agrees, it's still good to be reminded about God's design. How much more in this evil age where God's Word on marriage has become a taboo, even among Christians!

>>My first instinct is to bridle at every exercise of authority

How true! Daniel, you have accurately summed up my initial response as well and rebuked me for it.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

I wanted to remain silent on this subject but since people can always point to "what about the bride and groom" I'd like to speak into that objection.

When Joseph first posted the sermon I felt angry because the last thing I wanted, being the bride of the wedding, was to continue hearing talk about this particular sermon. I have turned the words of the sermon over and over in my head for the last 8 months.

When we recently became pregnant, only a few months after being married, we got to talk about this sermon again. I offended people with out even opening my mouth. Accusations of judgment of individual's marriages and comments about needing to support and show love were made. I felt like I needed to go around telling people I didn’t agree with the pastor or that their sin was okay and I approved of them. If they felt condemnation it was not coming from me... and the joy of pregnancy was covered with the pain of sin.

However, after a few times of seeing the post and feeling angry, I made myself sit and read the sermon. It was true and I agreed with what it said. What is so amazing is the conversations that have come out of this sermon and the list of things people thought “he said” at the wedding and the conclusions and judgments that have been made about me and my husband and our church.

After reading the sermon I came to a conclusion. There is only one question we can ask about whether a sermon like this is fitting. What is the point of the wedding sermon? If it is to remind individuals what marriage is, to call them to repentance in the ways they have failed to obey God, and to separate them from the culture then you could not speak truer and more convicting words then Joseph's sermon. After all, all he did was contrast what we say and what scripture says.

It is a shame that we hate what scripture says about marriage to the point that a sermon like this is so divisive, that we love our reputations so much that we prolong a wedding and sacrifice our purity to have the expensive party, that we turn a blind eye to sexual sin (particularly fornication and homosexuality) and pretend it isn't there when talking about marriage to our family and friends, and that we fear children so much that we can't rejoice over pregnancy.

You be the judge as to whether it did "edify and encourage the couple that is actually getting married" and whether that is the particular point of a wedding sermon. But know that my husband and I have been forced to stand on the biblical principles of marriage publicly. We know our family members are watching and we know that a lot of their personal baggage in relation to submission and marriage got placed on that sermon. And this has forced us to grow and confess our sin to each other.

Beautiful, Lauren. God bless you.

Love,

I'm realizing more and more that women who stress how much they looove submission are often not to be trusted. When I'm honest with myself I admit that I am a rebellious wife who loves the appearance of submission but none of the substance. Thank you, Lauren for your testimony which humbles me to face my sin. It's only there that I find the remedy.

"What does submission look like in a Godly marriage? And what does submission look like on a regular basis at church?"

I'm guessing your making a point with your question, Denver. But I'll go ahead and answer.

Obedience.

Sister Lauren,

When I read this sermon I tried to put myself in your shoes. I cannot imagine how my (or my husband's) family and friends would have responded to a wedding sermon like this. One part of me thinks "Thank God Joseph Bayly didn't marry US!" and another part of my thinks, "Wow, what a blessing it is to be under that kind of preaching!" I mean, how much more 'on the right track' could our marriage have started out with THAT to be understood and digested?!

When you write at the very end "And this has forced us to grow and confess our sin to each other," are you referring to you and Mick or to you and your family (whose personal baggage was placed on that sermon)?

Thank you so much for posting Lauren. It made the sermon even more encouraging to me.

Warmly,

Becky, I can remember hearing Pastor Tim say something like "submission isn't submission until you disagree" on several occasions. I think that women who "looove" submission are either, as you say, all about the their godly appearance OR they have husbands who are weak and agreeable all of the time. I am glad (or am I?) not to have the latter. :)

Jessica:
It's caused Mick and I to confess to each other and our family.

Dear SB
I would like to apologize for any hurt and confusion brought on by this conversation. I do not agree with the theological sentiment nor with the attitude reflected in the response. As a Christian i would rather be loving than to be right and as a theologian I would rather be submissive to the love of God than to be obedient to my own arrogance

>> I would rather be submissive to the love of God than to be obedient to my own arrogance

Andries,
God in His justice will condemn all who do not repent. But in His great mercy, He has always sent His prophets and preachers of righteousness to expose sin and call the people to repentance. We cannot be submissive to the love of God yet reject His Word's condemnation of our sin.

Don't call it hurt and confusion. Humble yourself under God's Word. It is good there.

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