Four years ago my parents stood before me and renewed their marriage vows. Today, July 2, they celebrate fifty four years of marriage.
I am a great fan of the Anglican Prayer Book liturgy. It is the liturgy my husband and I used when we married. The promises we made were simple yet profound. We promised to love each other. We promised to comfort, honor and protect each other. We promised to forsake all others and be faithful to one another as long as we both shall live.
One of the saddest things I heard this week was South Carolina governor Mark Sanford’s declaration that he was going to try to fall back in love with his wife.
Perhaps in their marriage service the Sanfords promised to stay in love. The wisdom of the old liturgies is that they do not require one to do what one cannot, govern the unruly emotions. Being in love is how we feel. I know that in the course of my brief fifteen years of marriage there have been whole hours when I was not in love with my husband. But I have loved him every hour. Love is what we do. It is how we act. The promise to love is a promise anyone can keep. It doesn’t depend on how we feel. Jesus loved sinners, Jesus loved those who opposed him, Jesus loved those who nailed him to the cross. Did he feel a warm fuzzy affection for them? I would suspect not. Did he love them? Without a doubt.