In Matthew 19 Jesus quotes a passage from Genesis about marriage, “5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’[b] 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.””
There are two parts of this passage. One seems to indicate loss and the other seems to indicate gain. The word leave lends itself to absence or removal. The word joined (or cleave if you like the KJV) indicates addition. They seem opposed to one another. Almost like pain and gain. There are many emotions shared in a wedding. Every person involved comes with a different perspective and varying emotions.
Tomorrow we get to see our oldest child, and only daughter, leave and cleave. As a pastor and a father, I get to be a part of the wedding from two perspectives: I will walk her down the aisle as her father then I will get to complete the ceremony as her pastor. I have already experienced many emotions over the last few weeks and months, and they have been intensified the last couple of days. So I thought I would share a few random thoughts with you that have been running through my head.
Have I prepared her?
As a parent, this is one of my greatest concerns. She has seen all of the parents in her life struggle through issues of their own. Have I given her the tools she needs to succeed? As she seen enough good in my marriage that she has a good pattern? Did I miss something? If you are a parent of a young child, never think it is too early to prepare them for this day. Some of the best preparation they can have is a good example. They may not need many lectures, but they probably will repeat what they have seen. Work to make your marriage strong and solid so they have a pattern.
What am I losing?
I have heard people talk about losing a child when they get married. Even the “leaving” part in the Bible indicates there is a change. But we cannot view it as loss. We should view it almost as a graduation. They have gone as far as they can go in this family unit and now a new family is created. Further, parents cannot complete their children. Completion, or oneness, occurs in the context of a healthy marriage. Sometimes we feel like we lose control or influence. We probably never had as much control as we had thought and influence is something that is earned. Leadership is influence. You just have to learn to influence (not manipulate) better, which usually means growing ourselves.
On the losing side, for us personally in this situation, maybe the most difficult loss to get our heads around are the two grandchildren. We know we are not losing them, but it will be a change for us. For one-and-a-half years they have both lived with us. Though we have never attempted to be their parents, we have certainly become attached to them 24/7. We understand that ultimately it is best for them to have a strong family unit with their mother and father, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was heart wrenching at times.
What am I gaining?
Most obvious we are adding a family member. We will have a son-in-law tomorrow. We are also gaining a whole family unit. In our situation, Lauren and Cody have two children together, now they are creating a home and life together. In my worldview, that is what we desire, a complete, wholesome family unit. I also gain an opportunity to influence this unit to be productive and valuable members of our community and world. In this situation, I feel I have a greater responsibility. Cody has very little experience with a family unit. Not only do I have to influence his family, but there is also some responsibility to lead as a father. My responsibility doesn’t end when my children get married, it just changes.
So as I wrestle the next couple of days with emotions and questions, I realize that leaving is not losing and joining really is gaining. The writer of Hebrews tells us “Give honor to marriage”. So that is what I do today. I am reminded of the need to honor mine for it is an example. I am reminded to honor Cody and Lauren’s, for they will become one. Marriage should never be loss, but always gain.