Marriage and Epic Perjury

I’ve performed hundreds of weddings and done way too much marriage counseling. Though I’ll stay the course, I admit I’ve toyed with the idea of not doing it anymore. Why? I’m weary of perjury. Read on—C.S. Lewis’ observations just may save your love.

“Justice…includes keeping promises. Now—everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner till death… To this someone may reply that he regarded the promise made in church as a mere formality and never intended to keep it. Whom, then, was he trying to deceive when he made it? God? That was really very unwise. Himself? That was not very much wiser. The bride or bridegroom or the “in-laws”? That was treacherous. Most often, I think, the couple (or one of them) hoped to deceive the public. They wanted the respectability that is attached to marriage without intending to pay the price—that is, they were imposters, they cheated. If they are still contented cheats, I have nothing to say to them—who would urge the high and hard duty of chastity on people who have not yet wished to be merely honest? If they have now come to their senses and want to be honest—their promise—already made—constrains them. And this, you will see, comes under the heading of justice—not that of chastity. If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be  guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another—unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.”

Marriage’s forgotten glue is the truth of the promises heartily declared in front of witnesses and God. We still musn’t take the Name of the Lord in vain—which has everything to do with vows and little to do with profanity. Tragically, the value of a couple’s wedding vows have so diminished that their promises need only hold until one decide’s they shouldn’t anymore. Even the witnesses to the “I do’s” merely see themselves as guests and no longer as a threat of mass accountability. When people operate by any lesser truth than that of God’s immutable Word, integrity has no constraints and accountability holds no terror. The proof is in the perjury.

Actor Peter Graves, when asked how his 50-year marriage lasted so long, forcefully replied, “We promised!”

Yes, we did.

—j