Have we made marriage into a Holy Grail? In the last Indiana Jones movie, the final, climactic scene was in a chamber filled with chalices, cups and goblets. Indiana’s task was to choose, from among all these cups, the one cup that was used at the Last Supper. There were silver cups, there were gold goblets, there were chalices encrusted with jewels. Among all these bejeweled chalices was a simple wooden cup, the “Grail”, the simple cup of a carpenter.
I’m wondering if Christians haven’t done the same thing with marriage, encrusting it with pseudo-spiritual trappings. As an example, in my own life time I have seen something added to weddings that is considered almost de rigueur today. What am I talking about? The Unity Candle. Can you imagine a wedding without a unity candle, today? Of course not; it’s a symbol of God’s eternal love and the couple becoming “one flesh”. However, back in the 60s and 70s, when I first started attending weddings, there were no unity candles. Today, they are a must, they are a part of our traditions.
There seems to be an innate desire to spiritualize the events of our life and give things around us spiritual significance, even if there is nothing inherently spiritual about them. Marriage, of course, is one of these occasions.
I can’t really mean that, can I? As good and earnest Christians, we KNOW that marriage something special, something holy. After all, it’s a sacrament, right? And what better way to prove it that to have a communion service for the bride and groom during the wedding? This is another addition to wedding ceremonies that have become popular, and becoming more and more common today.
I’m not arguing against traditions. Traditions are great. In fact, I read an excellent statement that gives the proper place for traditions. “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” By all means, let us have our traditions. However, do not raise them to the point of holiness, and imbue them with special spiritual significance. The things that God calls “Holy” are holy, and the things that we may add as we go along, while good, are not holy.
So let us have weddings, let us have traditions, but let’s not raise the ceremony and the accompanying trappings that we like to the point of being holy and sacred. Someone married in a hut in India is just as married as someone married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.