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Just a piece of paper-yeah, right!
Genesis 2:24

 

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times from opponents of marriage-its just a piece of paper. To that I say, "Yeah, right!" I've never believed that those who say, "it is just a piece of paper," believe what they are saying. If it is "just a piece of paper," what are they afraid of? 

For many, marriage vows are unimportant. A study cited in a recent edition of Time Magazine indicates that cohabitation before marriage is on the rise, up from 10% in 1960 to 50% 1998. (From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html

Why would 50% of Americans choose living together without the benefit of marriage vows? Maybe its because of the cultural climate. Some people don't seem to take their marriage vows that seriously anymore.

Recently, network television made a mockery of marriage when they asked the question, "Who wants to marry a millionaire?" and turned a sacred institution into a for profit game show. Though I didn't see the show, I did see a news report about it. Things didn't turn out so well for the couple, but really, wouldn't we have been surprised if it did?

A couple of years ago, I read a news report about a groom that stabbed his wife to death just hours after exchanging their marriage vows. What was the argument about that led to murder? Apparently, Louis Deleg, the groom was jealous of an acquaintance of his bride, so he stabbed his bride, Tina Entwistle to death. Those at the wedding reception tried to intervene, but to no avail. (From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

God's purpose for marriage is in startling contrast to the majority view of our culture. He intended for the marriage relationship to be an intimate, permanent union. God created woman with marriage in mind. Our text says, "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. [24] Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh". (Genesis 2:23-24).

In the creation narrative, God looked out over His creation and said the same thing about every thing he created, "it is good." He did not say something wasn't good until He turned His attention to Adam. Look at Genesis 2:18 "Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." 

God's design is for a man and woman to enter into a permanent, intimate relationship with one another. A relationship like Eddie and Mary enjoy. Let me read you a letter that Eddie wrote to Ann Landers:

Dear Ann Landers: 

On Aug. 14, 1945, the war ended in the South Pacific. That was the day I met the most beautiful and wonderful woman in the world-my wife. There was a celebration downtown, and I was kissing whoever came along. Then, I kissed Mary. That kiss was special, and I immediately put her name and phone number on a handy piece of paper-a policeman's traffic ticket, which I put in my wallet. 

One day, as I lounged in my barracks, I opened my wallet, and out fell that ticket with Mary's name on it. I wrote her a letter and the rest is history. 

We have been married for 50 years and have three daughters and six grandchildren. Now, my Mary, my beautiful rose, is wilting. She has Alzheimer's disease, and I am helpless to do anything about it. There are no letters to write, no courtship to win her love, only wonderful memories. I hold her hand, serve her breakfast in bed, hug her and try to hold on. How long this rose will continue to bloom only God knows. 

Seeing this disease rob me of this wonderful person is hard, but I am grateful that I have always told Mary how much I loved her. I will never abandon her. She will be with me always until "death do us part." 

(From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

And a relationship like Jimmy & Barbara enjoy. When Jimmy slipped into a coma after World War II, the doctors told Barbara to get on with her life, Jimmy would never recover. She wouldn't listen. Determined, she found a way to support her family, serve her Lord at her church and fulfill her vows. She refused to treat her vows as mere words and dispose of her ill husband and her commitment, and by the power of God, Jimmy was healed. They stood in front of me a few years ago on the occasion of their 50th Anniversary and repeated their vows to one another. They got through them easily. I didn't. To tell you the truth, I choked up a bit as I said, Barbara repeat after me, "I Barbara reaffirm my commitment to Jimmy, my husband. \ I promise before God and these witnesses \ to be your loving and faithful wife \ in plenty and in want \ in joy and in sorrow \ in sickness and in health \ for the rest of our lives."

And a relationship like John & Kathy enjoy. Before her fateful trip, Kathy told John, "I'm going to run to the store to pick up a few things." A little while later, a friend called to tell John she saw a terrible accident on the road and Kathy was involved. As a result of the accident, Kathy is totally blind and paralyzed on her left side. Unable to care for herself, she is in a nursing home where cancer is slowly claiming her life.

John resigned the church where he was pastoring and took a job as the editor of The Baptist New Mexican so he could be close to his wife. He's successfully raised his two daughters into adulthood and continues to nurture his wife. He isn't bitter about the way things have turned out, he said: "I'm convinced that the greatest blessings in life come from the greatest trials. I wouldn't have experienced God's amazing provision had I not had such a great need." When asked about divorce, he said, "It's not an option, because I stood at that marriage altar, and I remember what I said: 'For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.'" And John is keeping those vows. (From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Just a piece of paper? Yeah right! Tell that to Eddie and Mary, or Jimmy and Barbara or John and Kathy.

Marriage is God's plan for an intimate, permanent union. 'Til death do we part! 

Today our church family celebrates with Jessie & Laura Rich as they renew their vows in celebration of their tenth anniversary. Today, they get the church wedding they always wanted.
 

Processional

Jessie, will you reaffirm your commitment to Laura to be your wife? Pledging yourself to her to be faithful, loving and honorable. To cherish her according to God's will in the holy bond of marriage? 

Laura, will you reaffirm your commitment to Jessie to be your husband? Pledging yourself to him to be faithful, loving and honorable. To cherish him according to God's will in the holy bond of marriage?
 

Will You please Join Hands

Jessie, please repeat after me: 

I reaffirm my vows to you before God and these witnesses \ to be your loving and faithful husband \ in plenty and in want \ in joy and in sorrow \ in sickness and in health \ for the rest of our lives.

Laura please repeat after me:

I reaffirm my vows to you before God and these witnesses \ to be your loving and faithful wife \ in plenty and in want \ in joy and in sorrow \ in sickness and in health \ for the rest of our lives. 

Lauren Sings

Pronouncement of Marriage

Having reaffirmed your faith in, and love to each other, acting in my authority as your pastor, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride!

I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Jessie Rich.

Recessional

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
one-pointexpositiory sermon

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