Okay, now that I have your attention, let me just say that it’s not what you think. I’m not really marrying my cousin. Rather, I’m officiating my cousin’s wedding. You heard that right. I’ve been asked to join my dear cousin Linda with her fiancée, Chris, in wedded matrimony. That’s why I’m flying out to Camarillo, California (just north of Los Angeles), to do the holy deed.
You probably didn’t even know that regular Joes like me could perform marriage ceremonies. Well, I’m no average Joe. I’ve been officially ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church. I filled out a quick application online, instantly received my certification email, and…woohoo…I’m ready to proclaim anybody husband and wife in the golden state of California. It almost sounds too good to be true. I hope it is true—for Linda and Chris’s sake.
All kidding aside, this is an incredibly sacred moment in the lives of two people who are important to me. I’m therefore approaching this holy union with all the reverence and veneration it richly deserves. I’ve been preparing like crazy for this day for the past few months, formulating my script, and thinking of how I can effectively honor Chris and Linda in front of all their loving family and friends…and before God.
I’m what you might call an uncompromising supporter of the institution of marriage. On a purely cultural level, I believe that marriage forms the basic building block of a civilized society. It fosters families, greatly enhances the well-being of children, and contributes to the “broader good” of community relationships as a whole.
The real significance of marriage, however, is found on a more ethereal plane. Because, for Christians like me, this hallowed bond of marriage signifies a covenantal union of male and female brought into a one-flesh relationship. It’s two distinct glories combining to make one glorious entity. It mimics and symbolizes the holy relationship between Christ (the cosmic bridegroom) and the church (his beloved bride).
For many folks, that’s all just a bunch of religious gobbledygook—spiritual dogma cleverly disguised as metaphor. That’s unfortunate, because nowadays, it seems that secular society views marriage as nothing more than a contractual arrangement born out of convenience. In my mind, nothing could be further from the truth.
To see a true model of Christian marriage, you have to look at it experientially. Take my parents. They’re both no longer living, but their fifty-seven years of matrimony seemed exactly like what God had intended marriage to be. They were inseparable—establishing their careers, raising their family, living out productive lives, and enjoying their golden years with a unity of mind, body, and spirit—joined together as one flesh.
All of you know couples like that—where self-sacrifice, mutual respect, and unconditional love seem to pour out like living water. I can’t think of a more powerful testimony to the love of Christ and the goodness of our Creator than the blessings of loving marriages like that.
And that’s the message I want to convey to Chris and Linda as I lead them through their vows. Beginning today, they’re entering into a holy covenant. Over the course of their sacred union, they’ll experience unbridled joy and overwhelming bliss. But along the way, there will also be significant challenges to face and seemingly insurmountable hurdles to clear. Knowing their union is God-ordained—that it’s blessed with the Father’s immeasurable love and grace—will empower them with the necessary steadfast spirit to survive, sustain, and thrive.
Under beautiful clear skies and eighty-degree temperatures, the ceremony goes off without a hitch at the lush Las Posas Country Club in Ventura County. Everyone agreed that the bride looked radiant and the groom devastatingly dapper. At 3:52 p.m. PST, before fifty beaming witnesses, I proudly announce the declaration that makes everything official.
“By the power vested in me by the state of California—and under the eyes of God—I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Thank you, Chris and Linda, for letting me check this experience off my bucket list. I’m hoping it was as edifying for you as it was for me. To anyone that was wondering, I can now confirm that marrying your cousin is as good as it gets.
Getting married soon? Looking for an officiant? I’M NOW AVAILABLE!