A Christian wedding is a declaration of war. In some ways, I wonder if it would be appropriate to paint our faces blue and have you yell your vows at the top of your lungs. Maybe if we were Scottish; maybe if all the men were wearing kilts. But what I mean is that we are engaged in a revolutionary act. We are saying something publicly that flies in the face of where our culture is going.
In ancient Greek mythology there was a great monstrous serpent with many heads called the Hydra that guarded the way to the land of the dead. The hero Heracles was sent to fight the Hydra, and the story goes that when Heracles cut off one head, two more would grow back to replace it immediately and so the battle seemed hopeless. We’ve got something similar going on in our world, but I’m afraid that the trouble is that many Christians are not very good with patterns. We lop off one head and are continually surprised that two more immediately grow back.
We need to remember story of another hero named Beowulf, the Geatish Warrior who heard that a monster descended from the lineage of Cain was terrorizing the Danes, devouring men at night in their sleep. When Beowulf fought Grendal the monster, he tore his arm off but even after the monster fled, Beowulf did not signal victory. Rather, he followed the creature back into its underwater lair and found it’s mother and killed her too. Beowulf knew that wherever this monster came from, another could potentially arise. Christians need this kind of foresight, this kind of wisdom.
So why is this ceremony an act of war? Why is this subversive? Well, why are little babies chopped up and vacuumed out of their mother’s wombs? Why do men perform indecent acts on each other? We are tempted to think that if only we could chop those heads off, the monster would die. If we could just rip off one of these arms, it would solve the problem. But I think the last 50 or 60 years is a long, tiring narrative of heads being lopped off and two more growing back immediately.
At bottom, if we were to follow Beowulf’s example and dive into the watery deep in search of the mother of Grendel, we would find a Monster in our land called evolutionary materialism which is a fittingly monstrous name for this disgusting hag. Evolutionary Materialism is an idea, but it is a disastrous, demonic idea that has had many incarnations. Darwin was one of the great handlers of this monster, and Nietzsche was his sick little brother. They said that fundamentally, the world was just matter, molecules struggling, and survival goes to the fittest. We are just pieces of nature, beasts that walk upright, struggling for greatness. Might makes right. Dominant power is the greatest good. Sacrifice is for cowards. Mercy is obscene.
But what you find is that Christians can get all worked up about evolutionary materialism, they can get worked about abortion and homosexuality and unjust war, but they frequently cannot see the connections. They don’t see the pattern. They don’t understand why more heads keep appearing. But what Darwin and Nietzsche were claiming is that happiness and goodness is found in embracing your inner beast.
Embrace your animal instinct; embrace your natural nature: coerce, manipulate, dominate, crush. You’re just a highly developed animal after all. Why is homeopathic medicine and herbal remedies all the rage? It’s a return to nature, a return to our tribal roots. Why is homosexuality on the rise? Why is child sacrifice protected by the high priests of Washington DC? It’s a return to nature, a return to primitivism, a return to our Aztec instincts. Only now you can buy your tribal markings and cuttings in a shop in the mall for 100 bucks a pop.
But what we are doing here this evening is something entirely different. What we are doing is the culmination of years, the culmination of many conversations, of meals together and tears and hugs and smiles and pictures and letters. We are celebrating a story of grace, a story with a happy ending, a story that is also simultaneously just the beginning. You see at the bottom of everything, is either a foundational belief in meaning or a foundational belief in meaninglessness.
Either the world is coherent, rational, and has a meaning, a story, a theme or it doesn’t. If there is no meaning in the world, if this is all an accident then we’re wasting our time, we’re building a sand castle on a beach. This is all meaningless and will be gone by morning. But if this world has meaning because Someone means it, if this world is a story because there is a Great Story Teller, then what He means and the story He is telling makes all the difference in the world.
And choosing a date and a time, and writing out invitations, and arranging a band, and dressing up and choosing colors and flowers and music is not merely just a nice evening, a memorable occasion – by doing all these things we are insisting that the world has meaning, that there is a story, and we are in it, and it matters.
And if there is a Story and a Story Teller, if there is a Creator and His good Creation, then it matters quite a lot what he says that we are. The author invents the characters. The Artist paints the figures. And He says that people are not animals. They are not beasts that merely feed their lusts and appetites. We did not emerge from nature; we are not merely pieces of nature. We are images of the Creator, we are sons of the Artist. Male and female, we were made to share the glory of our Maker, to rule this world in wisdom and dignity. We are royalty, sons and daughters of the High King of the Universe.
And so today, what we are doing is an act of war. We are proclaiming our defiance of the materialists and naturalists and evolutionists and tribalists. We are not beasts. We are humans. We are men and women, made in the image of the Maker of this mind-blowing place. We have sinned. We have become like beasts. But our Father has not left us in the far land. He has not left us to destroy ourselves in the jungles of our evil. He has not left us in our superstitious primitivism. He has sent His own Beloved Son for us, and though we hated Him, though we murdered Him because He told us the truth, God raised Him from the dead and when He rose, the world began to become new again.
Scott, today you are declaring war on every demonic monster that seeks to drag you back down into the dirt. You were made from the dust, and one day you will return to the dust. But you are not mere dust. You are a son of the High King of Heaven. Today you are being honored by all of us, and by God Himself who is giving you this woman to be your crown. You are a man, and that means you were made by God to be strong, that is your glory. You are no beast and this means you are called to use your strength to protect your wife and defend her from all harm. This means that you must lead your wife by laying your life down for her. You must not cling to your own comforts, your own safety. Jesus is the great Bridegroom because He laid His life down for us. That’s true strength. That’s true masculinity. As you do this, you will stand a little taller, and you will be claiming your glory as a man made in the image of your Maker.
Johannah, today you are joining Scott in this war. You are a free woman, a coheir of the grace of life together with him. In Christ there is neither male nor female, and therefore you stand before God on equal footing, with equal dignity and glory. You are first a sister and then a spouse. You are giving yourself to this man, freely choosing to serve him, to follow him, to respect him, to submit to him. You are doing this not because you get some sick pleasure out of being subservient. You are doing this freely as daughter of the King as an act of distinctively feminine glory. And as you do this, as you lay your life down freely for the sake of Scott, you are defying every beastly sentiment in the universe and claiming your glory as a woman made in the image of your Maker.
In the story of the Hydra, Heracles finally defeated the many-headed serpent by burning the stump of every neck immediately after chopping the head off. Beowulf conquered by hunting down Grendal’s mother and slaying her. The world must sometimes seem darker, but we are Christians and we follow our Jesus, our Hero into the fight. And this means that we must learn what it means to be human again, what it means to truly live as the nobility of God, as His daughters and sons. But Jesus has already shown us the way, the way to defeat every dragon, the way to overcome all the darkness. It is through the cross. It is through sacrificial love. It is through forgiveness and mercy and grace. Scott and Johannah, may your home be a place of feasting and joy, a place of peace and rest, a place where the light of Jesus constantly overcomes the darkness – to a thousand generations.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!