Divorce is ugly. Sometimes it is inevitable whether or not it is excusable. Sometimes there is sexual infidelity, physical abuse, or something similar that causes irrevocable destruction. My parents are divorced. One set of my grandparents are divorced. My wife’s parents are divorced. I know it is common, yet I think we are sometimes too accommodating.
Many wedding vows mention that there are “witnesses” present. We are witnesses before a forming covenant between two people. These people pledge in front of us that they will remain together until they die. They say things like “for better or worse” and “for richer or poorer” and “in sickness and in health”. We are the legal guardians of this contract if ever put into dispute.
Yet I wonder how many of us have attended a wedding, played the role of witness, then heard this or that couple was contemplating divorce. Often we think, “Oh, that is sad.” We don’t think they should do it, but we excuse ourselves saying, “They are adults. It is their lives.”
Wait. Why did we attend their wedding? Did we go to the ceremony like we go to a movie theater? Is it some form of entertainment with a reception to follow?
I thought we were playing the role of potential jurors. When one party breaks the contract we are there to declare a violation has taken place. Do we ever do this?
Thus far I have not been to any weddings where the couple has decided to move toward divorce. I hope that this is ever the case I will have the guts to point out the covenant violation. Yes, marriage is between a man and a woman, but it is also in front of the community before their eyes as well as the eyes of God. It is a covenant we witness. I think we are obligated to take this role seriously, but sadly I don’t think we do.
What do you think? What is our role as witnesses to a marriage covenant when its existence is threatened by divorce? Would you challenge the offending couple?