Do God-Vows Work?

May 27, 2016

Do God-Vows Work?

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Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #24
Rite of Passage Eight –A Taste of Things to Come–
(1951 to 1953) Age 17-19

Q: A vow: There are very few opportunities to make a vow before God in a religious ceremony. Do you think it might actually make a difference from other ‘legal’ promises?

Treena and I married in St. Mildred’s Anglican Church in Tenterden, Kent UK on September 22, 1955.

We stood side by side in this 9th Century Church and repeated our vows in the same honored fashion, nothing added –just the plain vows made before…God!

I wondered at the time if it made any difference –would we have a happier life together because we made promises to each other in front of God?

Neither of us were religious or had any relative who was, so it was only by casual observation that we had any idea how people of faith behaved…those we saw, in passing, seemed to be like anyone else; maybe quieter…more sober?

I had made some kind of pledge when joining the British army that had included Godandcountry in one elongated word but that was what was required of me, so I said it!

This was different and it felt different. We had chosen a Church wedding and felt that saying words before God might be a good idea.

So…what about now?

Words spoken can come back to haunt us, the ones we often regret. In this case the words we spoke came back to bless us; we were so glad that we said them and that somehow we had recognized that God just might be listening.

Later, in 1994, we returned to St. Mildred’s and all alone in that small stone church, we repeated our vows –this time with our new faith adding full meaning to the same words.

Do I believe that vows made are different when God is included? Well yes, I do. There is something very, very serious, for example; when we are asking to lay our hand on the Bible and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, there are legal consequences if we tell a lie and maybe other less obvious results.

In the same way, when the President vows to protect and defend the constitution of the United States and uses the Bible to recognize that the vow is before God, then there are global consequences if he or she fails to do so.

I don’t see obedience to the keeping of a vow as a kind of self-protection from a dire consequence; I see it more as an outward declaration of the need to recognize God as our Supreme Authority who has our best outcome at heart.

I’m so very glad we said our vows and had almost sixty years in which to honor them…we were blessed.

P.S This week I read Treena’s poem a perfect friend

15 Comments

  1. Lynn Says: May 28, 2016 6:38 am

    I think today, many miss the intent of vows before God. They do not arrive with the dedication of mind, body and soul, and God knows it. One has to completely accept, “As God is my witness…”; otherwise, they are somewhat empty words that can be made any time, and “vows” are just a statement that friends and family hear at a big party. Not sure why God would bless such vows.

  2. Mary Lou Childs Says: May 28, 2016 7:29 am

    When my husband of 30+ years and I were married we, too, were not “religious” people but definitely wanted to be married in a church. Both of us were raised as Catholics but had fallen away years earlier. We did, however, “believe in God” and wanted to be married by more than a justice of the peace. In our case, we were married by a Catholic priest at my parents’ parish. I remember when the priest gave his final blessing to us, and while holding his hands over our heads, I closed my eyes and fervently prayed that God would help to make me a good wife. I can still see me doing this in the video we had taken. Although we weren’t religious people, we have always regarded God as the third “Person” in our marriage. We view our marriage vows as a sacred promise to God and family. We have had some very rough times (most of them brought on by his often-difficult sister living with us for 14 years until she died a couple of years ago) but have weathered those storms and came out stronger on the other side of them. During our marriage we both became followers of Jesus and this brought us even closer together. I was baptized on Memorial Day in 1998 and Ed followed in 2003. We are simple “born again” Christians who believe in Jesus and what the bible teaches. We feel that God had a plan for us from the very beginning. He could see what would result if we got together and it was good. We feel that God blessed us then, and continues to watch over and bless us now, and every day we live a life of gratitude.

  3. Joe Says: May 28, 2016 1:23 pm

    The vows are from the heart within the people. A church or judge will have no impact of keeping one’s marriage true and full.

  4. Ron Flatter Says: May 28, 2016 3:16 pm

    One of the most powerful Bible verses I ever heard was Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” It is clear from your lives that you were blessed in each other and will remain so eternally.

  5. Mary Lou Childs Says: May 28, 2016 10:14 pm

    Joe — My personal experience has been that by inviting God not only to our wedding, but also into our marriage for the past 30+ years, has blessed us tremendously. Our vows were from the heart but there were times that were very difficult; left to our own “feelings” there was one time we might not have stayed together. We felt God’s presence and asked His guidance through all the ups and downs and now we are so glad we listened to Him. We have never been happier together. I cannot see how married couples go it alone.

  6. Jean N Sozio Says: May 29, 2016 8:50 am

    MMMM – good question. We lead by example and for us it was part of the process – just the way it’s done – it’s just what you have to do to be married. We were conscious of our words – our promise. The catch is putting those vows into practice. We were both so pure – early twenties out of school. Then you encounter the sea of culture that puts those vows to the test. We didn’t realize until we had almost blown it how numb we were to chastity of truth that yes, vows do matter and those before God ARE set in stone – the rock of our faith as Christians – Jesus himself. I can’t claim to be Italian but act like an Eskimo. I have to be what I say I am or I am a lie – non existent. Yes, something about being married in the “church” building somehow put a sense of sterling on the whole situation. But later we came to know that that was just religiousness – for without such our priests are merely unemployed. 25 years later we renewed our vows in a park at our huge family reunion with a Baptist pastor. It was fabulous. This we knew was the REAL thing. Same vows, before the same God but now with new understanding that our vows were truly a gift to one another and not just part of a process. A true gift is to be cherished, honored, protected, and carried on as legacy. Wow – the “building” of God didn’t so much as impress us with this as did the “body” of God – His word – His vows to us – one of which is to say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. How beautiful – how comforting – how peaceful – how securing. Yes – God vows matter.

  7. Jean N Sozio Says: May 29, 2016 8:55 am

    Mary Lou – I prayed I would be able to feed my husband and not cause him to starve to death! This amazes me now to be sharing this on a chef’s blog!

  8. Lynn Severance Says: May 29, 2016 12:47 pm

    I appreciated pondering these thoughts about “vows”. That Graham and Treena returned to the church where they wed, once a relationship with Christ became real in their lives, had to be beautiful and fulfilling moments.

    Vows. Covenant. A wider view emerges for me. God was in a covenant relationship with mankind when we severed our relationship to him. Christ, in covenant with his Father, became our reconciler to God by his sacrificial death on the Cross. Thus we can come to vows made to him and before him knowing there is a mutual depth available in living them out.

    When a Christian couple weds, standing before an earthly representative of God who also has legal authority to marry them, their vows are a witness to their individual covenant relationship with God. Together they vow, to be one with each other as they are one with God. The marriage then is a three-fold cord bound solidly with Holy Spirit strength and his counsel when needed is available.

    Graham, Mary Lou, and Jean (in what they have posted here) are witnesses how this reality has been lived out in their marriages. Thank you each for posting of God’s faithfulness to you as you have trusted him to lead you through your days as spouses.

  9. Karina Says: May 31, 2016 9:19 am

    Vows are good and well until someone breaks them. I was a very new believer (three months old!) when I got married. My spouse was not…well, he believed in God (he was raised in the church) but didn’t know anything about the personal relationship part. I probably knew less (I was not raised in the church) but I was learning that there WAS a relationship to be had. We made our vows in a church “before God” but neither of us really understood what we were doing. We struggled through 30 years together. I was the one who went to all the counselling sessions. He didn’t think we needed counseling. When our daughter graduated college she came to me and said, “you don’t have to do this any more mom, i’m grown up now.” It’s a bigger story but what I want to know from all you God-fearing-followers is if He will judge me more harshly for divorcing. I forgave and forgave but I finally reached a point where I could not do it any more. Am I to be judged more harshly for my actions? I know “nothing can separate us from the love of God” but divorce is not on that list…

  10. Lynn Severance Says: May 31, 2016 10:49 am

    Karina – as one of the commenters above, I feel a heart reaction to your plea wondering if God will judge you more harshly for divorcing. Only you know the fuller story of what transpired and from what you have shared, you went many extra miles to try and save a marriage yet without one who was equally inclined. God cannot lead where one refuses to go.

    It takes a strong person, as Graham has said,”to do less harm”. Your taking the stand to “do less harm” is to be commended. God loves you. He loves your ex-spouse. He wants what is best for you now that your life has changed. You have searched your heart and sought God. I’d say, “Let yourself be found by Him” for surely He has a new life and direction for you. You don’t say how long you have been divorced but the changes that come after 30 years as one married, and then the trauma of divorce, can put one into much confusion. It is a ripe time for the enemy to come in with false accusations to bring more confusion. Our God is a God of love and order, not confusion. His Peace will find you – not his judgement ever! Keep putting your heart before Him with the honesty you are feeling, but do be prepared for Him to love you unconditionally.

  11. Jean N. Sozio Says: June 5, 2016 11:23 pm

    Lynn – your words are so encouraging and inspiring – thank you – I am honored to be in your company. Yes, there was a time when my husband and I were separated for 8 months. I too needed counseling to cope – to wade through these mirky waters – “the valley of the shadow of death” – death of our relationship. God found each of us in different places and rescued our minds, hearts, bodies, and souls. It was because of forgiveness. We love because He first loved us. We are forgiven as we forgive. The Lord is our peace and gives us peace – peace to forgive, let go, and go on. In this you are free from all condemnation. It is then up to HIM to direct your steps – and your ex’s. In our case He brought us back together. You may find the same. We didn’t expect it but we are so glad He did. Keep our eyes on Him – faithful to His word – that is your only requirement. The word can be contradictory taken out of context. Consult your concordance regularly for clarification when confused. He will always lead you in a straight path out of darkness into light. Go girl!

  12. Jean N. Sozio Says: June 5, 2016 11:24 pm

    P.S. Other than my thanks to Lynn – the rest of my comment is directed to Karina.

  13. Jean N. Sozio Says: June 5, 2016 11:35 pm

    P.P.S. More for Karina – yes, you are right in that divorce is not to be taken lightly but there are conditions clearly stated in the word where it is permissible – in cases of abuse or adultery. Marriage is not to be a state of martyrdom or prostitution but one of mutual honor and respect. I love Lynn’s comment on covenant and vows. Google Jimmy Evans “Marriage Today”. Be blessed – “be strong and of good courage”. You can always go back and start over – it’s not over until He comes.

  14. Lynn Severance Says: June 7, 2016 5:26 pm

    Jean, I am glad I came back to the blog posting as I appreciate your input (here and other places here on Graham’s site).

    I pray Karina has returned to read and be encouraged. I pray for her even if she does not come back to find our caring words.

    God bless!

  15. Jean Says: June 16, 2016 1:00 pm

    Lynn – yes – yes – yes, I agree – and thank you – I so appreciate your words as well.

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