An Appeal to the Churches Concerning Marriage Vows by W. Ross Blackburn
Vows are serious in the Scriptures. They are so serious that the Scriptures discourage them, for if made, they are to be kept: "If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth" (Num. 30:2). The most sobering biblical example of the weight of a vow must be Jephthah, who, apparently believing he had no alternative, offered his daughter in fulfillment of a foolish vow (Judg. 11). For this reason the Bible discourages the making of vows, rather encouraging us to speak plainly and let our yes be yes and our no be no (Matt. 5:37; James 5:12). The weight of a vow makes it all the more important that, when we do make one, we make it wisely, and with solid understanding of the commitments we enter into.
The most common, and arguably the most important, vow made is the marriage vow. Yet despite the promises made by the bride and groom—usually with the best of intentions—to remain faithful to one another until death, marriages fail. It is unnecessary to cite statistics concerning divorce, adultery, pornography, abortion, the decline in childbearing, and the increasing reluctance to marry—we know something is wrong. Marriage vows are commonly broken. Perhaps the reason they are broken is that they were not the right vows.
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W. Ross Blackburn is the rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, North Carolina. He also writes weekly reflections for the Human Life Review's website on matters of life.
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