Three Strands

Wedding scripture selections are up to the preference of the bride and groom. The one that most couples automatically default to is 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the “love passage.” You know the one: Love is patient, Love is kind…love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…”love-ly” for every occasion!

Certainly this is the gold standard classic, which was read at my own wedding. But I actually prefer a different scripture now when I officiate a wedding. It comes from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 4 New International Version (NIV)

9  Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:

10  If either of them falls down,

    one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

    and has no one to help them up.

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

    But how can one keep warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered,

    two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken

It is that last verse upon which a strong homily, and relationship, can be built. The way it applies to relationships is this: there are two people in a relationship who are bound together spiritually by adding the “third strand” of Jesus Christ. Couples who come to the altar to make a covenant with each other and with Christ are inviting and including the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to provide strength and beauty to their relationship. Think of a braid. Two strands alone are weak. Three strands woven together are ironclad.

Does this mean Christian relationships are impervious to disruption? Sadly, no. When one or the other partner unbinds themself from the relationship, or from Christ through sin, the cord indeed can fall apart. In decades of marriage counseling I’ve heard the same story told with different characters. At some point of tiredness, ennui, boredom, or temptation, one pulls away from the braid and the relationship unravels. When “self-importance” overtakes the importance of “us,” that single strand elects to go wayward and the grip is loosened enough for the Enemy to pry in, and pry it apart.

I think it is fair to say that the Enemy, whose job it is to “steal, kill and destroy,” finds the breaking apart of relationships, marriages, and families a veritable playground for the havoc he comes to bring. Couples in jeopardy will spend years in the breaking-apart and putting-lives-back-together process. The grief, expense, overwhelming fatigue, anger, and debilitating soul-exhaustion that accompanies divorce can pull people away from their faith as they negotiate the troubled waters of permanent separation.

Keeping Christ at the center of your marriage, family, and relationships gives you the best weapon against this. When you turn your eyes upon Jesus and partner with him as a couple in your home, work, leisure time, finances, and focus, you stand a better chance of surviving the fiery darts that assault all marriages and relationships. And joy.

God invites you to find shelter in him:

Psalm 62 New International Version (NIV)

1 Truly my soul finds rest in God;

    my salvation comes from him.

2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;

    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault me?

    Would all of you throw me down—

    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4 Surely they intend to topple me

    from my lofty place;

    they take delight in lies.

With their mouths they bless,

    but in their hearts they curse.

5  Yes, my soul, find rest in God;

    my hope comes from him.

6  Truly he is my rock and my salvation;

    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;

    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

8 Trust in him at all times, you people;

    pour out your hearts to him,

    for God is our refuge.

No matter where you find yourself today, whether it is in a strong and committed relationship or in the chaos of one that is breaking apart, pour out your heart to God and trust in him. He is your rock, your salvation, and your refuge.

“Trinity Tree” by Kathy Schumacher.

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