More Than a Commitment
By Ed and Lisa Young
January 24, 2016
Lisa: We’re just a little bit excited today because we’re talking about marriage, and that’s always a fun thing. It really means a lot to Ed and I because just recently we got to celebrate the marriage of our youngest daughter, Laurie, to the love of her life, Sam. It was December 30th and we just want to show you just a little glimpse of what took place.
Lisa: It was such a special time. We were so excited and I’m very excited because joining us today via Skype are Sam and Laurie Kelly.
Sam and Laurie: Hello!
Ed: That’s crazy seeing, Laurie, your name now Kelly. That’s freaky. But I’m happy! I’m happy! Your mom and I are thrilled!
Lisa: They were going to join us live here but due to Snowmageddon and Snow Storm Jonas they are snowed in and stuck in Norfolk. So we’re glad that they are joining us via Skype!
Ed: Yeah, Laurie, tell us a little bit about how you and Sam met. Because people I’m sure are wondering, how in the world did these folks meet and a little bit about that.
Laurie: So I was in 9th grade, actually, and we met in Sydney, Australia at a church conference. We just met there. I just met him in like a hotel lobby, getting ready to leave. So I met him and I was like, oh, he’s, like, cool. And then we just kept in touch through social media and at conferences. Then eventually he asked me to prom and that’s where our little dating relationship started.
Lisa: And Sam, when you asked Laurie to prom. That’s kind of like, you’re in Virginia, she’s in Texas. Your dad’s a pastor there, your mom and dad. Tell us what that was like when you asked her to go to prom.
Sam: Well, I was a little bit nervous so I actually let my brother Josh take the wheel. He texted her something along the lines of, “Hey, do you want the opportunity of a lifetime?” And the end of the text was something like, “It’s OK if you say no because there’s a line of girls waiting outside my door.”
Laurie: And I said yes.
Sam: She obviously said yes.
Lisa: That’s right. And then Laurie, you and I made the journey to Virginia Beach.
Laurie: Yes, with my mom.
Lisa: It was Mother’s Day weekend so I actually had the opportunity to speak there and then following the services we went to lunch and all of a sudden we’re sitting at lunch and Sam is missing. We don’t know where Sam is. And Sam, where were you? We thought you were charging your phone.
Sam: Yes, I was actually calling my pastor to see if I could ask Laurie to become my girlfriend.
Lisa: Your pastor, meaning that pastor.
Sam: Pastor Ed.
Ed: Thank you for calling me your pastor. That’s nice.
Lisa: So he excused himself from the table to ask Ed’s permission to ask Laurie if she would be his girlfriend. And that was a very exciting time. Lots of fun.
Lisa: And we’re excited about your wedding and your marriage.
Ed: And speaking of weddings, we’re going to go through a wedding maybe the way you guys have never heard it explained or broken down before. I’ve had the opportunity to officiate hundreds and hundreds of weddings. I hate to confess this, Lisa, but I didn’t realize the depth of the Christian ceremony until I really began to look at it and study it. We’ve been in this series called Relationship Goals and we’ve said once someone is born they step on this relation-ship. <tug boat horn sound effect> Sound effects mine. This ship is not an easy ship. It’s a great ship and we’ve been saying around here we’re either floating, we’re either sinking, or we’re either cruising. And our great God wants every relationship to cruise. And today we’re talking about the only relationship that is analogous to God’s relationship to his people, which is marriage. That’s right. And we’ve been talking, Lisa, about these sails. Would you go over some of the sails? Because if you’re going to have a successful relationship you’ve got to have 5 sails.
Lisa: Five sails: Intentionality, truth, forgiveness, unselfishness, and consistency. And those 5 sails are a part of every great relationship but especially as we hone down on marriage.
Ed: You know, when people talk about marriage it’s kind of humorous. It’s again like, I’ve been offshore in a boat and I’ve looked down and said to myself, wow, that’s probably, I don’t know, 100 feet deep. And I’ve asked the captain, “Captain, how deep is it?” “Oh, it’s 800 feet!” What?! And I’ve asked some tell me it’s over a mile deep. So I’m in this boat, yet I have no clue about the depth. Well, could it be true that many here who are thinking about marriage, many here who have been married for 33 years like Lisa and I have, could it be that we don’t understand how deep the waters actually are? Now most people, Lisa, when it come to marriage will go, yeah, marriage is a piece of paper. It’s just a contract. Well, a contract is an agreement between two or more parties and it’s enforced by law. As you look at a contract, as you look down the food chain you run into lawyers. And we say, well, marriage is a contract. You keep your end of the deal everything’s cool. If I keep my end of the deal everything is hunky dory. It’s copacetic. But the moment you don’t do what I think you should do then, boom! I’m out. It’s just a piece of paper. It’s just a contract. So marriage is a contract, right?
Ed: Wrong. Marriage is not a contract. Say that with me. Marriage is not a contract. Marriage is a covenant. Say it with me. Marriage is a what?
Ed: A what?
Ed: A covenant. What’s a covenant? A covenant is a situation where two parties get together before God. It’s a supernatural thing. You look at a contract you find lawyers. You look at a covenant you find the Lord. It’s a blood bond for life and death. It is all about God. And when we see that we’re like, you’ve got to be kidding me. And let me tell you a quick story so you’ll see sort of where we’re going today. If you go back in the Bible, the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. Genesis chapter 12, 13, 14, and 15 talks about God’s covenant with Abraham. At the time he was named Abram. Here’s what God did. This is kind of gross but it makes sense. He took animals, cut them in two, arranged the animals opposite one another, the parts of the animals. God walked through the middle of the parts of the animals. That was considered holy ground. He initiated this covenant with Abram. In other words, God was saying, I’m all in. I mean, I am totally committed. I’m in covenant with you. I’m all in. Then we have other illustrations of covenant in the Old Testament. For example, they would take animals, split them in two, arrange the halves opposite one another. They would walk through the middle, meet in the middle, cut their palms, shake one another’s hands, exchange rings, and they would make this pronouncement, exchange robes. They would take on the name of one another. That’s why after God’s covenant with Abram his name was changed to Abraham. He took part of the name of God. So, Lisa, what I want us to do is (and Sam and Laurie), I want us to take this Christian wedding, the Christ-centered wedding ceremony and let’s look at the symbolism of it. I’ve talked about the substance. It is what? Not a contract but a…
Ed: Let’s talk now about the symbols.
Lisa: The symbolism. So let’s just start with the wedding aisle. You know that, well it depends on where you’re getting married but it could be a long distance, it could be a shorter distance, the wedding aisle where the bride is escorted by her father down the aisle. Ed escorted Laurie and he cried the entire way there. In fact, when, I believe when they got ready to start down the aisle, Laurie looked at him and said, “Dad, you have got to get it together. You can’t be crying like this all the way down the aisle!” And it wasn’t a sad crying.
Ed: No, Sam! It wasn’t sad! I mean, we’re happy! We’re happy! I was happy to give her to you, I am! But it was just, I’m very sentimental.
Lisa: But that aisle represents, and don’t freak out when I say this, but that aisle represents the walk of death.
Ed: Whoa. And then some are going, that’s right! You got that right! No, no, no. It’s a positive thing! When you walk the aisle, Lisa, go back again to the covenant. Two halves of an animal, you walk through that. You’re saying I die to all of the other relationships in my life. My main relationship, the central relationship is God. The second is my spouse. All the others are whoosh! Back burner.
Lisa: It doesn’t mean that they’re gone, it means that they don’t take the priority of the spouse. It also means that you’re dying to self in your individuation. In other words, you’re no longer just you. You’re now united as one because you’re walking down the aisle, the walk of death, to die to yourself to join in life with the other person.
Ed: Yeah, and you have to cut the cord. The Bible says that we leave and we cleave. So we leave and Laurie will always be our daughter but now she has left. We’ve given her to Sam and we’re always a parent, I’m not going to say that. However, she’s yours, Sam, and that’s a good thing.
Lisa: It’s a great thing.
Ed: We’re happy. It’s an amazing thing. It’s a supernatural thing. Literally, though, and we don’t realize the implications of the covenant, when we walk the aisle we’re saying… “Well I didn’t know I was saying it!… we’re saying through symbolism, if I break this covenant, God, you do to me what’s happened to these animals. And you might be going, whoa, Ed. I’m divorced. Oh whoa, Ed, I’ve messed up. OK. God is a God – we know this – of forgiveness.
Lisa: That’s right.
Ed: He forgives, he cleanses. However, we all face consequences of our misbehavior. So the good news is, if you’ve messed up, if you’ve turned your back on this covenant, God is a God of the mulligan. God is the God of the second chance. God is the God of grace. So now you can face this new marriage. Most of you, if you’re single, will embark upon, you can face this new marriage with some serious knowledge. Man, you’ve got some responsibility now that you know this information. And you’ve got some accountability. And you can live out with this activity of doing what you should do. So there has to be, Lisa, a little bit of separation, some boundaries, between the new marriage and the family. In a wedding the families have prominent positions, correct? Well, I know why, Ed. Because they paid for the thing. Yeah, yeah. However, families, moms and dads are up front because they’re saying, thumbs up! We support this. We are for this. And a couple is stupid if they don’t run the relationship by their parents.
Lisa: By their parents and those who have their best interests at heart. We love the time we got to spend with Sam over the years of their courtship. I’m sure that Steve and Sharon enjoyed the time they got to spend with Laurie, because it was a time for us to get to know one another and to look into the lives of that potential spouse and say, wow, those are some great qualities. And to give advice where advice was needed.
Ed: Yeah. We were looking for the sails we’ve been talking about. And those sails were strong in Sam’s life. They’re strong in Laurie’s life. They’re not perfect. Yet this boat <boat horn sound effect> is cruising. So walk the aisle. It’s not like, well, I’m gonna say yes to the dress! It’s gonna be sexy on me, and look at this! No, no, it’s much more than that! We’ve decaffeinated everything. We’ve dumbed it down. We’re in the baby pool, the peepee pool, as opposed to the deep water, but I want to change that! So as we walk the aisle. Parents are like, yeah! This is a Christ-centered marriage. And then you’ve got the groom.
Lisa: Yeah, everybody talks about here comes the bride. There’s a song, Here Comes the Bride. Really, here comes the groom. It’s all about the groom. The groom comes in first.
Ed: The groom comes in first. Why? Why?
Lisa: Well, because the groom is the one that initiates. And that’s spoken in Scripture.
Ed: Look at the book of Ephesians. I mean, this is just Bible here. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husband, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Let me stop here. The Bible uses twice as many words to implore husbands to love their wives as wives to love their husbands. I wonder why? Because I’ve got a hard head. I wonder why? Because you’ve got a bucket-head, too, man. We need this stuff! The groom initiates it. Who’s the groom? Jesus. Who’s the bride? The church. Jesus initiates it, Lisa, and the groom initiates the question. He pops the question. The groom should initiate, for the most part, creativity in the relationship, a date night, mate night, every married couple. You see, marriage is what you do and don’t do before and after you say I do.
Lisa: that’s true.
Ed: So the groom takes the initiative.
Lisa: He takes the initiative. So guys, those of you who are married, how are you doing on planning the dates? How are you doing at initiating reconciliation when there’s frosty feelings? Those are huge questions.
Ed: Yeah, because sometimes there are frosty feelings in our marriage. Lisa and I argue, we do. As I said last time. Some of you are like, oh we never argue! I’m like, well let me spend some time with you. I’ll start a fight.
Lisa: Let’s just face it, we’re human beings. We have our own, you know, we struggle with ourselves sometimes. So when we struggle with ourselves we’re definitely gonna struggle with one another.
Ed: Well the word husband, house-band, two Anglo-Saxon words meaning I band the home together. So I take the initiate to reconcile the relationship. A friend of mine sent this to me the other day. He texted it to me. He’s like, when a guy says “I’m fine” a husband says, “I’m fine,” they mean, hey, it’s cool. But when the wife says, “I’m fine,” husbands, dig in. You’re going to argue for the next 8 hours. She ain’t fine. Now think. Guys are afraid to laugh. You’re afraid to laugh because you’re sitting beside your wife. I know inside you’re like, “BA-HAHAHAHAHA! Ed, you’re so right, man!” I know, I know.
Lisa: I’m just going to witness that that’s true for me. I’ll own that. I’ll own that.
Ed: Is that true?
Lisa: My “I’m fine” does not mean I’m really doing great. It just means I’m fine, leave it, and everything’s rolling around in my head right there. That’s what that means. And just the escorting down the aisle, where you present the bride to the groom.
Ed: We’ve prepared her…
Lisa: The biggest handoff ever, I guess.
Ed: We’ve prepared her, we’ve kept her. We have brought her up in church.
Lisa: In the house.
Ed: Because church is the only entity in our culture that highlights and underscores these transcendent values given to us by God. And if you’re not involved in church you’re setting yourself up for shipwreck.
Lisa: And I’m going to speak just very clearly from Ed’s and my perspective. Because a lot of time people just think, you’re pastors. Y’all must read Scripture 24/7 at home and of course you never fight. You never have conflict. And your kids are just gonna be perfect. No, no, no, no. But I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that because we partnered with Fellowship Church, no doubt. I have thanked our children’s pastors over and over and over again because Ed and I, yes, we take it seriously at home. We teach and we nurture and all that, but it is because of the partnership of the church that our children ever have had a chance. So I’m just telling you. It’s that truth is for us and for everyone here. It’s the best place to get them prepared to talk the real talk about what marriage is all about, the depth of marriage.
Ed: So the groom, our example guys, Jesus. The bride, the church. Let’s talk about saying yes to the dress. Yes to the dress, the wedding dress. Because wedding dresses are important and I’m all about and we’re all about looking cool and doing the best you can with what you have, what you’ve been given. The wedding dress, though, is not just a dress.
Lisa: It represents purity and righteousness. Revelation 19:7-8 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and honor him for the time has come for the wedding banquet of the lamb and his bride has prepared herself. She is permitted to wear the cleanest and whitest and finest of linens.” And what this represents is that because of Jesus and our relationship with him we are now pure, we are now clean, we are now presentable. So it’s a very symbolic thing, the substance behind it.
Ed: We’re clothed, Lisa, in the righteousness of Christ. So when God looks at us he sees the righteousness of Jesus. If it was based on my righteousness or your righteousness we would bust Hell wide open.
Lisa: But we have this purity. What about the exchanging of the rings? The exchanging of the rings is all about the fact that no longer do we have our own stuff, we now have joint stuff. I guess stuff is an OK word.
Ed: Yeah, when we become one flesh, Lisa, we’re one spiritually, we’re one physically, and sometimes people forget this, we’re one financially. All this crap about, “Well, I’ve got my money and she has (or he has) her own money.” Are you kidding me? I mean, I understand if you want separate it a little bit, but it’s one. And if you have a problem already with separating your money you’re gonna have a shipwreck. Because in relationships, ship happens. And if you don’t have those 5 sails, if you don’t understand the depth of marriage, it’s not gonna happen. For example, Jesus is all in with the covenant. Go back to Genesis. God, all in. When I am not the man I should be, I don’t have to worry about Lisa. She’s all in. When she’s not the woman that she should be, she don’t have to worry about me, I’m all in. So it’s not 50%, 50%. No, no, no, no. 100% commitment from both, and that is covenant.
Lisa: So as it goes with finances, why would we be willing to give our heart to someone we’re not willing to trust our finances with? That heart is something very special, too.
Ed: Yeah, people treat the church that way. This is hilarious. It’s hypocritical. It’s like, oh yeah, I’m a Christian and I love the church. Really? Well, do you tithe? No, but I’m trusting God with my eternity. So wait a minute, man. You’re trusting God with your eternity but you’re not gonna bring the first 10% of what you make? What? What? What?
Lisa: It’s getting quiet.
Ed: It’s getting very quiet.
Lisa: But I can tell you, too…
Ed: It’s a hard issue. Lisa and I’ve been doing this. When we first got married we had nothing. Now we have a lot more than that. We still do it. And God has blessed us so much I can’t even describe it.
Lisa: That’s right. Amen to that one. OK, what about the veil?
Ed: The veil. Well, when Jesus died on the cross for our sins the veil of the temple was ripped giving total access to God through Christ. The backstage pass, total access. When the veil is lifted in a wedding that symbolizes a husband and wife have total access to one another.
Lisa: And then you have the unity candle. How many people who are married had a unity candle in their wedding?
Ed: Remember those unity candles?
Lisa: The unity candle where you had two separate candles and there was one in the middle, and that symbolizes the fact that you’re no longer individuals but now you’re one in marriage.
Ed: I did this wedding. I called it the body builder wedding. One day I’m going to write a book on all the crazy weddings I’ve done. I mean nutty, nutty, nutty. Well, these body builders, these people were giants! All jacked up on every kind of steroid known to man. They were competitive. And the women in there, I mean, it was crazy! And I love body builders, I love body builders. You know how many body builders it takes to screw in a light bulb? Two. One to screw the bulb in, the other to say, “You look big, man, you look big.” But anyway, the unity candle. This was a really cool unity candle. It was a brand new unity candle, we’d never used it before in the church. So you had the two flames and they were fake candles. And then you had the candle in the middle that was not lit so you’re supposed to take the candles, light them, one flesh, one flame. Well the body builders walk up and they try to take the candle out and they couldn’t. It was stuck. I don’t know what happened. So, the guy goes, “Excuse me.” He took the candles that were lit….< creaking sound effect>… I was like, oh my gosh! He bent those things and lit the candle! Well why did I tell you that? Because if you want to have a covenant marriage you need to get on steroids. Does that make sense?
Lisa: No. You don’t need steroids.
Ed: No, a covenant …
Lisa: It takes work.
Ed: A covenant is a contract on steroids. That’s your application. It takes work, it takes strength, and you… OK! Crash through quitting points. You’re not going to feel it all the time, honey.
Lisa: That’s right.
Ed: You’re not gonna feel it all the time. And I tell people all the time. If you’re waiting to feel it you won’t do a thing with your life. If you’re waiting to feel it to pray, feel it to forgive, feel it to have a date night, feel it to… it’s not gonna happen! You commit, and then the feelings will follow.
Lisa: And you know, when you speak about unity, from this point on you have to think about the fact that whatever you do affects the other person. If you treat your spouse poorly, if you say ugly words to your spouse, if you throw in name calling and all that type of stuff you’re really doing that to yourself as much as you’re doing it to them. It goes back to the covenant where you say, OK, if I break this covenant let the same happen to me as I’ve done to these animals. Well in unity whenever you harm your spouse you’re harming yourself. So it’s a good lesson on the value of unity. Fighting fairly and all that stuff.
Ed: So running through this we have the announcement, the new names and Abram as I said, Abraham. That new name. My real name is Ed Young Christian. Yours is Lisa Young Christian. Becoming a Christian is not something that is private. It quickly goes public. You get married publically. Just like when you become a follower of Christ you publically are baptized. That is the wedding ring of the Christian life. The reception, the par-tay. You know the Bible commands us to par-tay? It doesn’t say we should get drunk and freak out and do drugs and all that, but it says we should have a good time. God invented partying. The world has taken partying and they polluted it, but we should party! We should have a good time! We had a great party at the wedding!
Lisa: It was fun.
Ed: And I even made a couple of burnt offerings. We had some cigars there. The Bible says to make a burnt offering before the Lord.
Lisa: That was fun, yes. We had a great time. And maybe it’s a challenge to all of us but right after that wedding ceremony we have a party. But we need to keep the celebration going for years and years and years, and rejoice about what God can and will do in our marriages.
Ed: How about cutting the cake? Because it’s like, what’s so big about that? We cut the covenant. The word covenant, berith. Say berith. Berith. Yeah. It means to cut. We cut, we cut the animals. We cut the cake. Then I feed Lisa, she feeds me, the totality of us. But I want to tell you the most embarrassing. This happened to us in our wedding. This is the most embarrassing things ever.
Lisa: Well, I wouldn’t say the most embarrassing thing ever.
Ed: Well, it was pretty embarrassing.
Lisa: You know on wedding cakes you have flowers. A lot of people put flowers in wedding cakes now but back in the day you’d put a bride and groom on top of the wedding cake. And for some reason we had some friends that were friends of my parents that, they decoupaged eggs. So for a wedding gift to Ed and I they decoupaged an egg and it looks like this. This actually is the egg. And it has little hinges and it’s bedazzled, and it has a bride and groom inside, and it has our wedding invitation decoupaged on the back because decoupage was so big in 1982.
Ed: That is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.
Lisa: And I think we have a picture of the cake.
Ed: I’m embarrassed.
Lisa: There’s the cake with the egg on top. Yep, that’s it. And you know my sister had a cake, had an egg, too. And Ed and I were talking just a year or two ago he goes, “Lisa,” I mean it’s been 32 years at that point, “Lisa, why did we have an egg on top of our cake?” I mean, these things that just haunt us years after years after years. And then he goes, “What were you thinking?” He went from we to you really quickly.
Lisa: And I said, “Honey, they were friends of mom and dad’s and Laurie had one too, my sister.” And so I called her and said, “Laurie, can you believe we put eggs on top of our cake?” She goes, “Lisa, I didn’t put the egg on top of my cake.” I couldn’t believe it! They had theirs on a side table. No, we put ours smack dab on top of that wedding cake. Very bold.
Ed: And we can tell the story now because Helon and Geo are with the Lord. They passed on.
Lisa: They passed on.
Ed: Making heavenly eggs now, I’m sure, probably, with Simon Peter and James and John, Abraham.
Lisa: They also did, for throwing the rice, we had these long stems and we made them all ourselves. I mean, there was no such thing.
Ed: These were like weapons they made.
Lisa: There was no such thing as a Pinterest board back then. They were these long stems with a satin flower at the end. And you’d wrap tape around, floral tape around it, and then you’d put rice in it and as the bride and groom were exiting you would fling it like a slingshot or something like that and the rice would fly out. You know, it could be dangerous. I don’t have one of those but that was classy.
Ed: You know, I researched that. Back in the day, Lisa, they would throw seed on a bride and groom. Seed, fertility, I’m not putting any pressure for grandchildren but fertility. Then also, that the wedding and the marriage would be a fertile entity that people would see and go, wow, they’re blessed by God.
Lisa: And it would demonstrate the fruitfulness of God, the fact that God has a great design, the depth of marriage, and that your marriage and our marriage would be something that would be a blessing for others to see. That when they look at the lives of those who are married, who are honoring God with their marriages, that they would see reflected the nature and the character of God. Do you see the depth?
Ed: Isn’t this brilliant? Brilliant!
Lisa: The symbolism and the substance of what a marriage is all about.
Ed: I never realized the depth of it. So if you’re here, and I’ll say it once again. You’re a student, a single adult, 90-something percent of you will get married. You need to understand this stuff, own this stuff, take this responsibility. You’re accountable now that you know the information and make sure you’re doing the right activity to reflect this. Some here are going through divorce. Divorce is so, so difficult. I don’t think there is a family here that has not been touched by divorce. God wants to meet you where you are. He wants to forgive you, to cleanse you. Now you have this new information you can go into the next marriage with whoa! Man, I’ve got the 4-1-1 before I have to call 9-1-1 now! Others here need to say, OK, I want to say “I do” to Jesus. That’s how you become a Christian. That’s what’s so crazy, Sam. When you and Laurie got married you said, “I do.” Boom. All right. When you say, and I say this all the time but you know this is true. When you say “I do” you don’t realize and you’re not going to realize the implications of that decision until you’re married longer and longer. I’m still realizing the implications of the decision. And that’s not bad, it’s awesome! So, it is.
Lisa: Go ahead, Sam. It’s OK.
Ed: So becoming a Christian is the same. You say “I do” to Jesus. What has Jesus done? It’s a love relationship. He wants us to have this relationship with him. He’s done the work. We’re the church. He’s the groom. We either say “I do” or we leave him at the altar. It’s my prayer that you will say “I do” to Jesus. Allow him to clothe you with his righteousness, his love, so you can discover the marriage and what families and what your future and what this relation-ship is all about. Let’s pray together.
[Ed closes I prayer.]