The reality that in less than three weeks I will be a married man, is starting to settle in. With so much still to do and with such little time in which to do it, I'm afraid I've neglected taking time to actually think about what marriage is and what it means. I often say that our actions reflect the sort of world for which we hope--what we do either reveals God's Kingdom or it conceals it, revealing an altogether different kingdom. Gandhi said "be the change you wish to see..." So how, if at all, does marriage reflect God's Kingdom? Of what sort of world does the union of two people offer foretaste?
In our fragmented and broken society a wedding is a sign of healing--two people, two families, two communities being made one. Two people come together, with their unique histories, bringing together two families positioned in the context of two communities which might otherwise, if left to their own devices, remain disconnected and disinterested. The sort of healing which Christ came to bring was and is the kind of healing that breaks down barriers and draws all people together--people who might otherwise, if left to their own devices, never be united. Marriage, therefore, is a foretaste of reconciliation--the mending of the world. Of course it comes with its trials and pains (if it didn't, we might simply say "in health" and leave "sickness" out of the equation) for, as Thomas Merton wrote, the world is "a body of broken bones" and broken bones, when they are reset, tend to hurt. Divorce is simply the refusal to accept healing.
Marriage is Eucharistic insofar as it is an image of an invisible truth. It reveals the healing of the world which would otherwise remain concealed in the midst of brokenness and curse. In that sacramental moment when the two are united, the world is made right, the world is made one--the broken body of Christ is re-membered. Marriage calls a future reality--the reality of the fulfillment of Christ's prayer "that they may all be one"--into the present and it, as it is lived out daily, refuses to accept the present brokenness which is so persistently pressed upon us day by day. Marriage is a counter cultural expression of love and faithfulness. Marriage refuses to accept the world as it is. It refuses to give in to cynicism and lesser visions. As the world comes together in and around the sacrament of marriage, we fulfill that for which we were created. In marriage, we reflect the image of the triune and eternal God of all creation.
It's not just because we love each other (although we totally do!), it's not just because it's better to have a partner (although I imagine that it must be)... We're getting married because we believe that God is healing the world and is reconciling all creation, through Christ's physical body, to Himself. We are created in the image of God and we will reflect that image through unity and through the hope that is expressed in covenant. We deny brokenness, we reject the fragmentation, and we clearly and unabashedly proclaim redemption as we point with our bodies toward a world filled with the image of a loving God.