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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On the Royal Wedding

May 19, 2018

Millions and millions of people have just watched the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, held at Windsor Castle and televised to the watching world. I notice that here in Australia channels 7, 9, ABC and SBS were all covering it – that’s four out of the five main channels.

I guess people still like weddings, especially royal weddings. I must confess that because I am not English nor Australian, but an American, they do not have quite the fascination for me that they do for countless others. So I only flicked on to it now and then.

Thus I may not be the most qualified to speak on it, since I only saw parts of it, but as is so often the case, I am using this as a springboard to make some spiritual points. As to the ceremony itself (or the parts I actually saw), it was good to see some of the gospel message getting a hearing.

The Archbishop of Canterbury seemed to give us the biblical version of events. He spoke of marriage as being a gift of God, and a picture of Christ and his bride. Yes, great biblical truths those. So for the kazillions of people watching this, they heard once again some biblical passages and a reminder of what true marriage is all about.

And following in the footsteps of Princess Di and Kate Middleton, Meghan chose to not mention the word ‘obey’ in her vows – she is too much of a modern feminist it seems to run with that sort of stuff. And of course critics have been guessing for a while now how long they think this marriage will last.

Let us hope that it does last, but of course recent history with the royals is not very promising in this regard. So we will have to see how things pan out, but we can wish them well, and pray they really do get to fully understand what Christian marriage is all about.

The spiritual connection

It is at this point that I want to turn this into a mini-devotional. I want to look at marriage from a biblical point of view. And I also especially want to look at the grand story of Scripture – the biblical metanarrative if you will. One quote I have always liked in this regard is worth sharing here.

It comes from someone I certainly do not fully agree with in various theological areas, but the gist of what he says here I think is helpful. I refer to Robert Farrar Capon who was an American Episcopal priest (1925 –2013). In his 1995 book The Romance of the Word, he actually has three of his earlier books combined into one volume.

The one I wish to quote from here was his 1969 book, The Third Peacock. Near the end of it he says this:

When I teach dogmatic theology, I try to set up the faith on the same framework I’ve used in this book: the Trinity creating the world out of sheer fun; the Word romancing creation into being and becoming incarnate to bring it home; Jesus as the sacrament of the Word; and the Church as the sacrament of Jesus. Having done that, I then ask the crucial question: How does the story actually end?

Invariably, I get all the correct but dull answers: The Word triumphs; creation is glorified; the peaceable kingdom comes in. And I say, Yes, yes; but how does the story actually end? The class looks at me for a while as if I were out of my mind, and then offers some more of the same: The Father’s good pleasure is served; humanity is taken up into the exchanges of the Trinity. And I say again, Yes; but how does the story end in fact?

No answer. I try another tack: Where does the story end? Still no answer. All right, I say, I’ll give you a hint: Where can you read the end of the story? And eventually someone says: In the book of Revelation – but who understands that?

I’m not asking you to understand it, I say. I just want to know what you read there. What is the last thing that happens?

And, slowly and painfully, it finally comes out: The New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to be the Bride of the Lamb.

They never see it till they fall over it? It’s the oldest story on earth: boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl! He marries her and takes her home to Daddy. The Word romances creation till he wins her.

Yep, that is about it. I often teach on the biblical worldview and I usually seek to make a similar case: that the biblical story is really just an old-fashioned love story in three acts. Any successful romance novel has the same formula, the one he mentioned: boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl.

And of course the book of Revelation certainly does talk about this REAL royal wedding. And what a wedding it will be! If you thought the just-held royal wedding was really fancy, spiffy, and high-class, wait till the ultimate marriage of Christ and his Bride takes place.

We read about this especially in Revelation 19-22. In Rev. 19:6-9 we read:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

In Rev. 21:9-14 we read this:

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

As I wrote in an article from 2012: “So the grand climax of human history is a glorious wedding. All the people of God collectively will join in the greatest wedding of all time, as she joins fully with Christ when he returns. That is where human history is heading, and that is why Jesus Christ was born.”
billmuehlenberg.com/2012/12/22/the-christmas-metanarrative/

So a wedding like we just saw is a very, very pale imitation of the real thing that comes at the end of human history, one which will launch us into eternity. It is a glorious hope for all of God’s people. And the good news is, if you are still single, and have never married, and may not ever marry in this life, if you are a Christian redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, you still have a mega-wedding to look forward to and participate in.

That is the glorious good news of the gospel. Don’t miss out on it!

[1316 words]

15 Responses to On the Royal Wedding

  • Let me be the first to comment here: As to the Most Rev. Michael B Curry, I will listen to his talk sometime soon (I only heard parts of it so far), and we now have his transcript. He is of course part of one of the most liberal denominations in the US, and he is fully in favour of things like homosexual marriage. So what I have seen seems to be much more mushy theological liberalism with a lot of God words and love words thrown in, rather than a full scale biblical message. But stay tuned, I may write an article on this.

  • Does your lack of mention of it mean that you missed the message from the (black) American Episcopalian preacher? One commentator described it as a fire-and-brimstone message, although I don’t recall fire nor brimstone—nor hell—being mentioned, but it sure was passionate, and as the channel I saw it on said, it broke some of the tension and allowed people to relax. Some of it was good, but other parts had me thinking that it had a (theologically-) liberal component. I’m not sure what to make of it overall.

  • Thanks Philip, but you just missed my comment which I just posted right above yours!

  • And now a full article: A few thoughts on the Most Rev. Michael B Curry who spoke at the royal wedding:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/05/20/on-michael-curry-and-the-power-of-love/

  • It was an ADULTEROUS civil ceremony. White stands for purity. An ADULTEROUS is not pure.
    Meghan has a living covenant husband. She posted her rings back to her covenant husband and he was shocked.
    A true Bible based and disciplined Minister of the Gospel would not have conducted nor been involved in such a ceremony.
    Is it a ‘ train wreck’ in the making? Time will tell.

  • Amen. It is wonderful that millions heard about God’s plan for marriage.
    I was flabbergasted that the wedding cost 32 million, and there was a 10,000 dollar bottle of whiskey crafted in their honor. It could have fed many hungry souls in soup kitchens.

  • I like the tale of the prince who became disillusioned with all the prospective princesses whom he discovered only really loved the idea of becoming a princess; they didn’t love him, and so he decided to go about as a pauper so as to find true love. Only when he found someone who loved him for who he was and who was prepared to marry him as a pauper, did he reveal his true identity and wealth.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury what??
    He, like so many missed the point or points:-
    Meghan is a divorcee;
    The Queen is the head of the Church as well as of State;
    Mrs. Simpson caused the King to abdicate the throne to marry a divorcee; And above all:
    What happened to “What God has joined together let no man put asunder?

    It seems to me that the Archbishop has abandoned his post as a minister of God by accepting a human hand to divide the marriage of Meghan and allow an adulterous marriage in the Church and before the eyes of God;
    The Queen has abandoned her post as the so to say Pope (Head of the Church) and witnessed her grandson marry an adulterer and allowed him to marry in the Church that she heads;
    The British citizens – especially those in the Church did not turn their backs at the obvious adultery but applauded the adultery.
    I could go on but it seems to me that hypocrisy is rife at the head; ministers of God and the good Christian people of the world who so allowed and applauded.
    In my view, the so called marriage was nothing more than an insult to all that Christianity teaches or ought to teach especially that marriage is a sanctity which is united by God and no power exists to undermine that hand other than that which we accept and in that acceptance – we SIN.
    To clarify, the Bible allows (the law of Moses) divorce only when a master takes his servant (slave) as a bride and as the ‘bride’ did not consent then the marriage remains the will of the master and when he decides to divorce her he must give her her freedom, a proper dowry and he may never marry her again. It is for this that a Christian marriage is to be the voluntary union between a man and a woman. All others are not the sanctity that we, as Christians, recognise!
    John Abbott

  • Hi Bill,

    There is no doubt he is a liberal, but no of that came through his message. It was a great preach.

    Steve

  • Thank you for your comments Bill; always appreciated.
    I must say the I got a real lift by way the Archbishop stuck to the church’s prayer book (Book of Common Prayer 1662) which spelt out exactly what marriage is as it is firmly based on the Bible. Millions of people would have heard it. Here in Australia we get homosexuality rammed down our throats consistently and the Anglican Prayer Book shows up same sex marriage for the farce that it is. The Episcopal preacher from Chicago preached over his allotted time of ten minutes with great passion but with little biblical substance as has already been mentioned. He raved on about love and only briefly mentioned the sacrificial love of Christ, and everybody would have felt comfortable.

  • Thank you so much for this. I never would have linked this wedding to the marriage of Christ and His Bride. In the following days and weeks as people talk about the Royal wedding it will give opportunity to speak to people of the greatest Wedding still to come. I give thanks to God for your teaching, faithfulness and hard work Mr Muehlenberg. God Bless You!

  • Well said Mr Abbott.

  • Hi Bill,

    Great commentary,

    I, despite being a proud Australian, perhaps even somewhat of a monarchist, didn’t watch a minute of the wedding. For no reason other than not being particularly interested.

    I appreciate getting the run down on such events from blogs like yours. It serves as a useful filter.

    I’m always impressed at how widely read you are.

    Unfortunately, in an increasingly liberal society that rejects traditional marriage and gender, it’s not hard to see how many people cannot relate to such a great scriptural theme.

    God bless.

  • Dear Bill,

    I believe there is a lot of good in the monarchist SYSTEM IF the monarch is a good Christian monarch but few have been unfortunately. On the whole, I think Queen Elizabeth is although she has failed miserably in defending unborn British life. Neither has any other British Royal to my knowledge. Too controversial an issue for them unlike the King of Belgium who abdicated rather than sign a Royal Decree legalising abortion in his country. It was when the abortion issue was raging here that I read about it.

    I don’t believe in revolutions either such as they had in Russia where they shot the Tsar and his whole family to set up a godless state. However, as far as I am concerned the wedding was ‘bread and circuses’ for the masses to take their mind off more important issues such as Brexit.

    As expected the MSM had a ball and half of them Republicans. They were unable to leave the subject alone. We had it for breakfast, dinner and tea for a couple of weeks before the wedding and no doubt we will be getting more of it.

    It is hardly surprising then that Meghan with a leading role in the pageant as the bride and with the added advantage of being a former actress had the audacity to stand there in virginal white promising God that her marriage is ‘for better or worse’ and ‘until death do us part’ when everyone knew she had already broken that promise once.

    In my opinion It would have been more appropriate for them to have been married quietly out of the public eye because she was a divorcee.

    I did read in one of the women’s magazines that they HAD married quietly months ago. If that is true it looks more than ever that were all playing a part and the wedding was more to promote the British monarchy and portray them in a good light and give the British people some pageantry which they love rather than set them a good Christian example.

    I think fear is at the bottom of why they do this as they are fully aware that revolutions can be a reality and situations quickly change. They are fully aware that they are started by the people from below and are not imposed from the top. Charles the 1st lost his head during the English civil war and England became a Republic under Oliver Cromwell. This event took place not so long ago in historical terms. The British monarchy were also badly frightened after the Russian revolution – so frightened in fact that they refused to give the Tsar and his family refuge in England in spite of the fact that the Tsar looked like the British king’s twin brother more than his cousin. Then more recently there was the Diana saga and Diana was a very popular, public figure noted for her charity work (babies and children especially IF they were born of course). I say this because it would have leaked out if she had supported the unborn as the media watched her every move. Her calculating side saw her skill in manipulating the MSM for sympathy when she felt it was needed.

    Finally, events such as Royal weddings and births give the British monarchy the boost it needs every now again and especially in a troubled world in order to keep it popular with the British people.

  • Dear Bill,

    I have just re-read your article and I think I went off on a tangent but even so I agree with you that this wedding was just a pale imitation, grand as it was in worldly terms, of what is to come between Christ and his Bride Holy Mother Church at the end of Time.

    Perhaps that is why people are drawn to weddings because they know instinctively that they are made for God as St Augustine said even whilst at the same time many reject, ignore or rebel against Him.

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