Before my wife, Christy-Joy, and I we got married we spoke a lot about our vows. We spoke about what we can, and cannot promise each other. We spoke about what we would want to hold on to through the years.
There is an argument that we would be married either way, so why bother spending so much time on the vows, but being able to reference back to our vows has meant so much to us already.
Here are my vows to Christy-Joy. Her vows were similar, but using her words.
Public vows has the interesting dynamic to it. What I am saying, I am saying to Christy-Joy, but I do it publicly so I want all of you to also hear it and understand it. Christy-Joy and I have obviously spoken a lot about what marriage means and why would we get married in the first place.
One of the most beautiful understandings of marriage comes from the catholic church. In the catholic church marriage is considered a sacrament, like baptism or communion is in the protestant church. But in the catholic church a sacrament is more than a symbol, it is a sign of grace by which divine life is dispensed to us. And although the marriage ceremony is conducted by a priest, it is the only sacrament not performed by a priest. It is performed by the two people in the marriage to each other.
This means marriage is more than a union. It means marriage is perpetual ministry. A means of dispensing divine life to each other.
I choose this understanding.
Christy-Joy, I take you – all of you with your past, your present, your future, your love and your fear – as my wife, forsaking all others.
I choose you to be my primary ministry.
Another thing I want to explain is the Trinity. Father, Son and Spirit. One, in and through Love. Three members of one family. Finding themselves in each other. “Father” only because of Son. “Son” only because of Father. The deepest truth of all things is this Relating. “God”, as a singular, is not a being. “God”, as a singular, is a space in which love flows.
And this is what I’m getting at. Marriage is starting a family, which is the image of the Trinity. But more than that, it is watered from the original well.
I choose you to start a family with. To join myself to you. To become One. Like the Father, Son and Spirit is one. A single being, bound not by muscles and tendons, but by love.
I promise to participate in relationship with you through what life brings. To persevere through the dark times, for better for worse, through sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, to have and to hold, until death do us part.
I read somewhere that marriage is a lifelong meditation on one person. I choose you to be that person. I want to be the primary witness of your life and love. And I want you to be mine.
And in meditating on you and finding more of you. I promise to treasure what I find.
As newly weds the part that means the most to us, is the idea of taking all of the other person. Not leaving anything behind. It is especially powerful as we get to know each other better and we can affirm “I have chosen this part as well”. In a way, the one time vow is a continual process of choosing each other and choosing each other’s darkness.
The other part that stands out to us at the moment, is choosing each other as our primary ministry. It frames our long term plans, and our day to day. It focuses us, and reminds us “this person is important enough to love for the rest of your life”.