I've been thinking about fairy tales lately. My five-year-old daughter is not much of a princess kid. She prefers playing with animals (hence the cheetah-wrangling) or being a cowgirl, but we do have princess stories in our home. In thinking about these stories I've realized the major theme is that of a princess waiting for her prince to come and rescue her or give her a better life. Now that doesn't mean she's always just sitting there waiting--most of the time she is actively working or serving someone or something in the process. But her life does not have its greatest meaning or purpose until her prince comes. Then things are complete.
Our weddings and marriages are not fairy tales. We are not made complete by another person, and our lives do not get their sole meaning and purpose from another person. If you have trusted Christ and His finished work on the cross to save you from the penalty for your sins, then "in Him you are made complete" (Col 2:10). Jesus alone can make us complete. Our job is not to sit and wait for a human prince to come so life can truly begin, and our weddings are not the culmination of this waiting process. Yes, we wait, and yes, we rejoice in our weddings. But not so that life can finally begin. It's not that kind of fairy tale.
Yet in another way weddings do represent a fairy tale. They are a beautiful depiction of a much bigger story—the great Rescuer joining with his rescued bride, the church. This is the greatest story and we miss the point if a wedding is only about a beautiful princess coming down the aisle to her groom and to an earthly "happy ever after." It should be pointing to a much greater, truly perfect wedding—the marriage feast of the Lamb as described in Revelation 19. In his sermon on this passage Charles Spurgeon wrote:
Oh, what a day that will be when the eyes of the entire universe shall be turned in one direction and the glorious Christ, in the splendor of His Manhood and of His Godhead, shall take the hand of His redeemed Church and, before men and angels and devils, declare Himself to be one with her forever and forever! That will be the beginning of the marriage supper of the Lamb—it will be the publication to all of the great fact of mutual love and union![i]
I confess this was not the picture I had in mind as I planned my own wedding, nor was it what I thought of as I walked down the aisle toward my husband, Erik. I wanted to glorify God through my wedding, but lacked the big picture. Now as I stand and watch brides walk the aisle I’m usually the one with mascara running down my cheeks. It’s just so beautiful—we get to be the bride of Christ!
When I see things that describe a wedding as a fairy tale, I have mixed feelings. This can either conjure up images of a misdirected bride placing all her faith in her groom, or a grateful Bride placing her faith in her Rescuer. May our weddings, and our lives, represent the second picture.
For more reading on this subject, I recommend the following:
Mike Cosper wrote a great article on princess stories and the gospel here - Are Fairy Tales Finished?
Tom Strode (my dad and former pastor) wrote a series of short and helpful posts on marriage myths here - No. 1: Someday My Prince Will Come
[i] C. H. Spurgeon, The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, no. 2428 (sermon, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, England, Lord’s Day evening, August 21, 1887).