Their kiss was broadcast across the continents from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. For the first time since Winston Churchill joined the Queen in celebration of the end of World War II, a “commoner” shared the royal perch with a member of the royal family.
Before their wedding, the British Culture Secretary estimated that over one quarter of the planet would be following the royal nuptials between Prince William and his Kate, now to be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
In recognition of their marriage the Queen also gave them the titles of Earl and Countess of Strathearn and Baron and Baroness of Carrickfergus. All of which means little to us as members of a constitutional republic, and yet the story of the “commoner who marries a prince,” is one that resonates.
It would be a kind of Cinderella story-if only they hadn’t been living together even before their engagement was announced in November 2010.
This did raise something of a “row” in Britain, as The Telegraph reported, when it was announced they would marry at Westminster Abby and the service would include classically British music and hymns. The British press was quick off the mark on the day of the wedding, however, to share the fact that the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, had given his approval of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s decision to live together before marriage. According to The Telegraph, the archbishop’s take was that “We are living at a time where some people, as my daughter used to say, they want to test whether the milk is good before they buy the cow.”
Even though the Archbishop gave his blessing, albeit in mundane and hackneyed terms, he did not escape criticism from other clergy for doing so. According to The Telegraph, “Anglican traditionalists” criticized the Archbishop, “for failing to reinforce Christian teaching which prohibits sex outside marriage.”
Among those speaking out was The Rev David Phillips, general secretary of the Church Society, a conservative evangelical group. Rev. Phillips said the Archbishop had “missed an opportunity to set out Christian teaching…. He gave the impression it doesn’t matter whether people live together before marriage. I thought he would have tried to get across Christian teaching on marriage that says it is not appropriate to have sex outside marriage.”
Apparently, however, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England did not want to express such disapproval of a soon-to-be royal couple. Dr. Sentamu also said, “But what is important, actually, is not to simply look at the past because they are going to be standing in the Abbey taking these wonderful vows: ‘for better for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; till death us do part.’”
As for Kate, those vows did not include the words “to honor and obey.” As the press noted, she followed the example of Diana, Princess of Wales by omitting the word “obey” from her vows and instead mirrored the vows of the Prince in stating that she would “love, comfort, honor and keep” him.
Omitting the word “obey” from one’s marriage vows may be another example of what “modern” brides want to do. But it’s worth noting that the omission did not lay the foundation for a happy marriage in Princess Diana’s case. Nor can it be easily dispensed with if one seeks to follow God’s divine plan for marriage as set forth by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:22. “Wives, submit to your own husbands,” Paul exhorts, adding as the standard for the wife’s submission, “as to the Lord.”
In this section of scripture Paul explains that the relationship between the husband and wife should exemplify that of the Bridegroom and His Bride: “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
Every time I read this section of Ephesians, I’m challenged to consider whether I’m showing this kind of example of obedience and submission to my husband. Would anyone looking at my marriage see it as an example of the Church in its relation to Christ?
Surely, however, the challenge to be a model of Christ and His Bride is even greater for every Christian husband. Paul commands them in Ephesians 5:25–29: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (NKJV).
So, although the world recently saw a royal wedding, the Royal wedding occurred close to 2000 years ago when Christ gave His life as a dowry for His bride, the Church. We too were “commoners” with nothing to commend us-not even beauty or attractiveness, much less good works, purity, or goodness. Yet He gave Himself for us that we might enjoy with Him the benefits of a royal inheritance, one that gives us help now and hope for the future.
Now, that’s a wedding to celebrate-and imitate!