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?
Sharon Knox says
Sorry to burst your sexual bubble…
The portion of a deed to real property that begins with the phrase To have and to hold and that provides a description of the ownership rights of the transferee of such property.
Whereas a granting clause contains the words of transfer of an interest, a habendum clause defines the estate granted and declares the extent of the interest conveyed. For example, such a clause might say:”To have and to hold the premises herein granted unto the party of the second part, and to the female heirs of the party of the second part forever.” This particular habendum clause qualifies the estate granted by limiting its inheritability to the female heirs of the grantee.
Sorry to burst your property bubble, but the wedding vows are not speaking about property attributes ..
John Doe says
Actually the standards of the time during which these vows were established would point to a meaning more on the line of property attributes. The translation, at it’s root, seems to as wel.
However, this does not necessarily contradict the original article.
Both husband and wife have “ownership” over each others bodies after God. She isnt wrong! But thinking of your spouse, male says it too, as property is different. We were bought and paid for as Christians by God through His son Jesus Christ. You dont sell property that doesnt belong to you. Ownership/stewardship means we take care of, make sure value appreciates by treating it like our own. God holds both parties accountable for that treatment.
Dale Lawhorn says
Hi guy’s I believe there is a little truth to it all. I believe it was their way of making it a legally binding contract. Hence the need of a marriage license or certificate. but I have to say for me, I prefer the writers version best, because I believe that it is our way of saying to our husband/wife that we intend on submitting to them for the rest of our lives. and before any of you get all up in arms about the word submission. in the biblical sense submission means to give them the utmost respect, not because they are your superior, but because they are seen as your equal in all things. I like Ephesians 5:21, it says ” submit to one another out of the reverence of Christ “. So to me this means to revere your mate, or as I said earlier to give them your utmost respect.
Joseph Hartman says
The wedding vows are very important! To have and to hold sickness and in Health death do us part it’s plain English why do people try to change it to their convenience and then when things go bad in their marriage they run they don’t want to work it out and then they say I’m not in love but wait a minute go back to the day that you were anticipating the marriage and was asked in the joy and allowed in the Bliss in your heart when you were staring at each other will not alter or wherever we may have been you made that promise to God love is never ending love is kind love is Gentle Love is deep Love Can Hurt but takes to your work through it and make things better
Genesis 2 – it is not good to be alone. God had us as ‘helpers’ of one another. The two became one flesh and they felt no shame.
For a husband, the open, respectful affection of his wife reaches deep into his psyche, empowering him and drawing him towards self-sacrificing love. A husband is never more alive in his masculinity than when he is secure in the knowledge of his ability to serve and pleasure his wife. When he withdraws from the relationship, he does so not to punish her, but to protect himself from the shame of her rejection and his failure to please her.