Growing up, I learned never to come to dinner on the first call. Dinner wasn’t really ready yet. Mom just wanted someone to set the table. (Wasn’t I a terrible son?) Of course, I also knew if mom used my middle name, don’t wait for the second call. (“John Gary! Get in here right now!”)
Many people are surprised. There is no official wedding ceremony in the Bible. We have many examples of weddings but no instructions about who says what and when. On the other hand, one passage is repeated in four different places:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31).
It must be important! I believe the three elements of this verse provide us with the three elements of marriage. The first is “leaving.” Not only do we leave our immediate families, but we should also rearrange our priorities to put our spouse above our work, friends, and leisure. The marriage ceremony is a public proclamation that this is our intent.
The second element is “holding fast.” This is the glue and the hard work of marriage. It is where we learn to work together and support one another.
Finally, “becoming one flesh” is the celebration in the bedroom. The purpose of sex isn’t just procreation. Instead, it should be the bliss of laughter and giggles and a physical statement of love as God intended. (When was the last time you heard a class on “Song of Songs”?)
There are other important places where the Lord repeats himself. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus observed, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). He used the very same words to his disciples in Luke 12:34.
John the Baptist preached, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:4). Jesus repeated John’s sermon (Matthew 4:17).
When the Lord says something once, we should pay attention – even if He doesn’t use our middle name!