Examining the Wedding Vows – “… to have and to hold from this day forward…”

Examining the Wedding Vows – “… to have and to hold from this day forward…”Let me first admit that when it came to this portion of the wedding vow, I was stumped. I tried doing research on this phrase and did not get anywhere. Later that day, Eric came into the computer room and I shared my frustration with him. I told him that I just didn’t know how to break down this part of the vow. Then he grinned at me…

He said, “You really don’t know? What do you think it means to have someone?” That’s when the light bulb popped on. To have someone is for that person to be yours – intimately. For someone to have you is for you to belong to them. This means that I am committing my body to this person and he or she is committing his or her body to me.

I, (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

Sex is one of the greatest gifts in marriage. It is a means for physical pleasure, emotional connection, and procreation. While it’s not the foundation of your relationship (and your relationship is, or will quickly be, in trouble if it is), it is a level of intimacy that was established by God for husbands and wives. He was so serious about sex being saved for the bounds of marriage that he said in I Corinthians 6:18-20:

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (ESV)

When we have sex outside of the bonds of marriage, we sin against His temple… His dwelling place… where He lives in us…. That is a lot to digest.

Committing to have and hold someone from this day forward implies that you will continue to show your spouse affection and give your spouse your body for as long as you are living. This is not to give a husband (and occasionally a wife) license to misuse a spouse as a toy for a sexual addiction. Saying that you will have and hold someone is a commitment of love, gentleness, tenderness, and giving – not taking, grabbing, or demanding.

To demand sexual performances from your husband or wife is a form of rape. The Bible says that the spouse owns each other’s body for the purpose of sexual activity, but that does not mean that it gives license to act unloving in the process. Offering your body and your affection willingly is what I believe this part of the vow to mean.

Agreeing to have and hold your spouse also shows that you are willing to give the tender love and care that he or she will need over the course of a lifetime. After long days at work, exhausting days with the children, the loss of loved ones, disappointing news, and times of depression, we all need to be held and affirmed. Some of you don’t like to be physically held, but most if not all of us could attest to the fact that we need affirmation of some sort.

A spouse should be available to offer day-to-day support. However, our spouses are not responsible for keeping us happy – we need to rely on God to give us strength and joy. Yet, spouses are a physical means of love and support on Earth (and since we’re physical beings, it was good of God to provide this for us!). When you say you will have and hold your future spouse, you are committing your body and energy to him or her.

Sex is a powerful act and most of us have a basic drive for it. Because of this, we can use our bodies as a way to punish our spouse if we are not careful. Our flesh desires to get even with our spouse when we are hurting; but, God did not intend sex to be used for this purpose. Sometimes you will be so hurt that you won’t feel able to have sex – and when those situations arise, it is important to work out those problems with your spouse. Sweeping your hurts under a rug and passively aggressively withholding sex from the other person is an evil use of a sacred gift. The vow does not indicate that you can have and hold each other when you’re both happy. It just says that you are willing to have and hold your spouse. You are his and he is yours – and – you are hers and she is yours.

When you stand up and vow that you will have and hold your future spouse from this day forward, smile with anticipation of the special moments (both intimate and routine) you and your spouse will share in the future. But, be fully prepared to do a lot of giving.

Are you prepared to offer your body and your affection fully to your future spouse recognizing the amount of energy that will take over the course of a lifetime?

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