Love and marriage

Faith in marriage

Brad and Emilee got married under the watchful eye of Pastor Carl Wilfrid.

Brad and Emilee got married under the watchful eye of Pastor Carl Wilfrid.

Photo By D. Brian BUrghart

The D. in my name could stand for “deprived” of time, and so whenever I’m offered an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, I’m going to take it. And if I end up in church—even if it’s for totally personal reasons like a wedding—I’m going to get my soul filleted.

I got just such an opportunity at the wedding of Brad Summerhill and Emilee Lacy on Saturday, June 5.

The wedding was held at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. I attended a church service there on July 12, 2007 (“American Classic, Filet of Soul) but I was never fortunate enough to hear the main pastor, Carl Wilfrid, do his thing.

Suffice it to say, it was a beautiful little ceremony in which the couple’s children from previous marriages were prominently featured. I was thoroughly charmed by both the proceedings and Pastor Wilfrid’s sermon.

Pastor Wilfrid based his sermon on two sources: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 by Paul of Tarsus. The pastor had the bride and groom sit down and then called the many children in the sanctuary up to the altar, where he read to them from the Silverstein book, which tells the well-known story of a tree that loved a boy and gave him leaves and branches to play on and shade to sleep in. Eventually, as the boy grew older, he needed fruit to sell, branches to build a home and a trunk to make a boat. In the end, when the boy was old and tired, he used the tree’s stump as a seat, and the tree was happy. This story has horrified me since I was a child—even though I didn’t know the concept of co-dependence.

On the other hand, because I’m a sappy romantic at heart, the 1 Corinthians passage has long been one of my favorites. It includes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

As I sat there in the congregation, I had a bit of a reverie about love and marriage and commitment and how contradictory the Corinthians passage is to a wedding. Because weddings aren’t entirely about love, but somehow, perhaps because of the emphasis on passages like this, our society has made synonymous the words “marriage” and “love.” Wouldn’t it be great if marriages were only about love, and if love left, then the couple would split amicably, like adults? But nobody can reasonably vow to love another person forever, and even if they mean it when they say it, since love is an emotion, it comes and goes with the flick of a dendrite.

But people can commit to a behavior unruled by the vagaries of body chemicals, and I think maybe they did with more consistency before society picked up on the contradiction I just mentioned. In other words, people understood that they were vowing to stay married, committed to one another—whether “love” stuck around or not. I can think of many more couples (and business partners) who lived by a contract based on behavior rather than one based on the permanence of an emotion.

But hope springs eternal, does it not? And many couples launch their lives together, as did Brad and Emilee, with their feet firmly planted in faith, hope and love. And as good old Paul of Tarsus said, “The greatest of these is love.”