As we’ve just heard, in the NT Lesson from John’s Revelation, the founding of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, is like a wedding. I want to suggest to you today that the converse as actually also true: a wedding is the founding of a city. And every time a Christian woman is given to a Christian man in the name of Jesus as Bobbi came down the aisle a few moments ago on the arm of her father, a miniature replica of the holy city, the New Jerusalem is being founded.
And like every city, a way of life is being formed, a culture, a society, an economy even. John describes the economy of the holy city: God lives there with His people, and He takes away their sorrows, their pain, and He makes all things new. He gives the water of life freely, and He rewards those who overcome death and persecution and claims them as His beloved sons. The holy city is filled with people from every nation, and the kings of the earth bring their riches into it.
When you hear the word “economy” you probably think of stock markets and statistics and perhaps your heart sinks a little. But the word is derived from two Greek words meaning “law” and “house.” Literally, an economy is the way of life in a home. This way of life includes finances and labor, but also rest and celebration and service and love.
The city that John sees has a tree of life and a river running out of it just like the Garden of Eden in the beginning. This suggests that this is actually the same place: the garden has grown up into a city. But this means that if this was the plan all along, that when Adam and Eve were first created and joined as husband and wife, they were the beginning of a holy city, the first city.
In the Song of Songs, we hear Solomon and his wife rejoicing in their love for one another, but clearly, woven through their poetry are images and symbols taken from Israelite history, implying that their love somehow points to God’s love for Israel, His bride. And Solomon as the King of Israel, actually carries out that love, that care for Israel. He is the temple builder. He orchestrates a great nation, and by His love and care and creativity and generosity encourages markets to flourish, and it’s said that in his days silver was as common in Jerusalem as stones, and the nations brought their treasures into the city: articles of silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules, year by year. It’s striking that this historical moment of enormous economic prosperity occurs at the very moment that Solomon sings his song of love, pursuing his bride, kissing her with the kisses of his mouth.
In other words, Solomon’s marriage is the founding of a city, the construction of the temple, God coming to dwell with His people on earth. Of course Solomon is deeply flawed as well, and even all of His glory is only a faint reflection of Jesus, the Greater Solomon who came as the greater tabernacle, the greater temple to be God with Us. He came as the Great Bridegroom, turning water into wine at the wedding feast. He came as the Great Teacher and spoke parables and riddles and wisdom. He came as the Great Judge and gave up His life for His bride to destroy her abusers and rescue her from slavery. And in this is love, the Scriptures say, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
And so here we are two thousand years later, part of the great City of God founded in the blood of Jesus, and you two are standing here asking God to bless another new city that might image and reflect that heavenly city, but also even more wonderfully, that somehow your family, your economy, might be taken up into that city, into that heavenly economy, and contribute to it, participate in it, and share it with the world.
It is somewhat trendy nowadays to suggest that what God is most interested in, most concerned about are economic sins. Conservatives are sometimes viewed as prudish and whiny, since they’re all wound up about homosexuality and pornography. Of course, in so far as Conservatives have give a pass to economic sins, to economic policies that crush the poor and the weak, they should be ashamed. But to pit economic sins against sexual morality is to profoundly misunderstand the nature of these sins and the nature of the world.
In fact, if Solomon is a glimpse into God’s heavenly wisdom, then we ought to see that sexual fidelity, and the robust, romantic love of a man and his wife is foundational economics. And so we do not object to homosexuality or pornography or a guy and girl living sleeping together before they are married because those sins are embarrassing or merely icky. No, we object because they are lies about love, and therefore they are evil economic policies. They may seem small and private, but they are ways of life in homes based on greed, based on promise breaking, based on theft, based on manipulation, based on lies. And so we object in the name of economic injustice, in the name of the poor victims, the unprotected children, the women taken advantage, the men enslaved to lusts and shame.
And so this is my charge to you, Fraser and Bobbi: We live in a day of great sexual confusion, but as you begin your lives together, I want you to see your own marriage as a profound contribution to public and economic policy. Regardless of the immediate future of any particular nation, your primary citizenship is in heaven. Your immediate mission is to bring the city of God to earth. You are colonists, anointed with the Spirit of Jesus, who is the King of this World, and your task is to bring the norms of His city, the law of that city, the way of life in His house down to earth to take root here for your children and grandchildren, for your neighbors, and even for your enemies.
It is not enough to say so love one another, and be nice Christians. The norms of God must be embraced, loved, and put on. Fraser, you must love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. You must honor her in her weakness, and you must provide for her and protect her. You must take responsibility for her. You must be her teacher, her leader, her lover. You must pursue her, give freely, openly, gladly, without resentment, without bitterness, without harshness, without merely seeking your own good. You must not grasp or grab or demand or steal or manipulate. But you also must not abdicate or relinquish your duty to be her head, as Christ is the head of His Church. Let love cover a multitude of sins, forgive her, rejoice over her. This is what you were made for. You were made for Bobbi. You were made to be her man.
Bobbi, you must respect your husband. You must look up to him, honor him, help him. You must do this not in subservience to him, but as his full equal in the sight of God and yet gladly submissive to him, even as Christ submitted to the will of His Father. You must put away your fears, and you must entrust yourself to God, putting on a gentle and quiet Spirit which is precious in His sight. You must seek to win Fraser to greater and greater faithfulness not by cunning words or manipulation, seeking your own security, rather it must be with the indestructible beauty of a way of life that has peace with God through the cleansing blood of Jesus. Love as you have been loved. Forgive as you have been forgiven. This is what you were made for. You were made for Fraser. You were made to be his wife.
In other words, you must embrace that one of you is a man, and one of you is a woman, and this is glory. These are your roles. This is the economy of love you are called to. You are not interchangeable parts. You have unique gifts to give. You have unique gifts to receive. And as you embrace those gifts and receive those gifts in gratitude to God, you will find your home, at your table, in your bed, an economy of grace, a market of freedom and joy and healing. You will find that a city has been born in your midst, a city that participates in the holy city, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. And by the grace of God, you will find that you have been crowned as Kings, and you too are loaded with riches, and you are taken up into the great procession, bringing them with all of the nations to Jesus our King.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!