Actually, my biggest issue with today is whether to say, “Her mother and I”, or “I do”. The idea that the father gives the bride to the groom goes all the way back to biblical times. It isn’t until just recently that including the mother became the thing to do. After all, she did as much, if not more, in the bringing up of the bride. However, in reality, this idea goes back even before the very first wedding. John 6:37-39, 10:29, 17:2-24 speak over and over again of us, as the bride, being given from the Father to the Son. The contract was never between the bride and the groom. It was between the father of the bride and the groom. We have lost this concept in modern evangelicalism. Salvation is looked at as a contract between you and Jesus, but the real agreement went back long before we were on the scene.
Today, the father walking the bride down the aisle is tradition, but the real contract today is between the bride and the groom. They fell in love with each other and made the decision. If the groom is old fashioned, he’ll ask the father’s permission, but this is not the picture of Christ and His bride. This isn’t a deal worked out between Jesus and us. The Father chose the bride and gave her to the Son from before the foundation of the world. It is sealed. It is done. THAT is the picture. So culturally, I should say, “her mother and I”, but theologically, it is a clearer picture to say “I do.”
People keep asking me, “Are you sad that you are losing a daughter?” I could give the cliche’ “No, I’m gaining a son”, but to be honest, this was the plan all along. I have always looked at bringing up my children, especially my daughters, toward this day. It’s like practicing with a choir for a big performance. You’re not sure how it’s going to come together in that first practice, you work for a long time to fix the things that need to be fixed and then performance day comes and you are prepared, the music is God-honoring, and the work paid off. This was always my job. Jessica is ready to be married and we are at the end of my role in the performance. It’s not sad to me any more than the excitement of a final performance. My goal has always been this day. She is a woman of God, theologically sound, and prepared to start her family today. So no, I’m not sad. I finished the race with her and am handing her over to the groom to take it from here. I am still in the middle of the race with more daughters and there will be a “performance day” for them. I am too fixed on having them prepared to be sad.
So, I’ll still probably say “her mother and I” because among the masses, cultural significance wins the day, and this is too long a story to be explaining all afternoon, but I thought I’d write it here to clarify. And when I say “Her mother and I”, know that it’s not a script I am reading, but a reality I have worked hard for for 26 years. Those words mean something to me.
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for over 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship around the country. Bill and his family attend Belcroft Bible Church in Bowie, MD. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.