Selecting a wedding band was once a straightforward affair. The only real decisions regarded size and engraving. A gold band was a gold band. Larger or smaller, bought at a pawn shop or jeweler, it was adiaphora – a matter of indifference. And as a pastor, the language used in the wedding service at the giving of the rings was also straightforward.
The ring is a visible symbol of the spiritual covenant that you are making today before God. The ring will serve for you, and for your children, and for all who see it as a reminder of the purity and the permanence of your marriage covenant.
Like the gold in the ring which symbolizes purity and beauty, your love for one another is to be pure — unmixed and uncompromised by any other priorities, second only to your love for Christ. And like ring whose shape, the circle, has neither beginning nor end, you are covenanting today, before God, to enter into a marriage that is permanent and unbreakable.
The gold in your ring may get scratched from time to time, but its beauty and luster will endure. In the same way there will be trials in your relationship as you learn what it means to live as one-flesh, but your ring will be a constant testimony to you that God has brought you together for keeps.
But now, during pre-marital counseling, I know to ask “what type of ring will you have?” While the significance of the ring has nothing to do with what it represents, the liturgy must accommodate the wide diversity of materials now used in wedding bands. Gold is no longer a given. Millennials opt for titanium, silicone, and even tattoos. Nothing says ‘permanence’ like a tattooed wedding band.
While I don’t jibe with everything the in her blog, I appreciate what Laura Ulveling writes in a post promoting GrooveLife alternative rings.
Your ring is simply a universally recognized symbol to show the world and each other that you have committed your life to someone. Whether the wedding ring you chose is cheap or extravagant, gold or platinum, diamond or silicone, its design has no impact on its value.
Even if you decide to exchange traditional wedding rings at the altar, you can still order a set of Groove rings for your adventurous days so you don’t lose your diamonds while you’re climbing waterfalls or deep-sea diving on your honeymoon!
A ring’s design has no impact on its value. Signs illustrate. Seals authenticate. A wedding ring is a sign and seal of the covenant of marriage. The ring does not make you married and the absence of one does not remove that covenant. But the ring does point you, and everyone else, to the unbreakable fact that you belong to someone. The ring can’t make you a spouse, but it can make you a liar. You have made and received promises. And those promises define everything about your life.
One of the pervasive analogies of faith in the Bible is that of husband and wife. Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord says to his people, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” This is the wedding vow of the ancient world. God is the husband to his people. The New Testament picks up this analogy. The church is the bride of Christ. God makes a covenant of grace with his people. A promise is made and sealed with his own blood in the person of Jesus. And this promise changes everything.
But there are days when life crashes in. When experience seems to contradict or nullify God’s promises. Can we trust his promises? Can we trust him? Is God a faithful spouse? And when I am not faithful, will he still love me and keep his vows? Psalm 103 declares that the Lord knows our “frame, that we are but dust.” Yet, even in our spiritual fragility, he has compassion on us and shows steadfast, unwavering, unbreakable love. To shore up our flagging faith and soothe our doubts, he gives us signs and seals – reminders of what he has promised and assurances that he is as good as his word.
In the Old Testament God gave repeated sacrifices and sacred spaces to teach the people to expect a once-for-all savior who would secure all God’s gracious promises. Now, God has given us clearer signs and seals – baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But their purpose is the same, to point us to his promises and assure us of his faithfulness.
Moses experience at the burning bush was intense. God spoke and called Moses to deliver his people. Moses had waited a lifetime for this opportunity. But in is waning years, was it too late? Moses’ response is unexpected. The man who forty years ago rose quickly and decisively to right every wrong and to seek justice for every injustice, now wavers. Four times Moses makes excuses and offers objection after objection. Finally, he simply asks God to find someone else. But God’s call is a command not an offer – a promise, not a proposition.
A promise given to Abraham and renewed generation after generation to Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Amram, and now to Moses. A promise guaranteed by God’s Word and Character and signed and sealed by circumcision. Moses answers God’s call but we see hesitancy and unfaithfulness. In one of the Bible’s most enigmatic passages the Lord meets Moses’ family on their way to Egypt with a mortal threat. Why? Because they had despised the signs and seals of God’s promise. Moses is on his way to claim the temporal promises of the covenant of grace, but neglected to place its sign and seal upon his family.
How important are covenant signs? Are they means of grace to be diligently used or nostalgic rituals to be casually employed? The story of Zipporah and the ‘bridegroom of blood’ is no literary detour from the exodus, but gets to the heart of our faith. Join us as we examine Exodus 4:18-26 and consider the importance of covenant ‘signs and seals.’