“Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no. Anything else comes from the evil one.”
My paternal grandparents got married at 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, the 18th of September, 1928. After the ceremony, friends stopped at the Chylewski family home to wish the newlyweds well and celebrate in whatever customary way that Polish immigrants celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on a rural Michigan farm. Everything was simple, including the fact that they went on to live the next half century according to the promises they made to each other that morning. Grandma and Grandpa Kloska took their words seriously. They loved each other till the end and this love was built upon the most simple and basic principle: Tell the Truth.
Eighty-nine years later, it is a bitter irony that our culture has changed to the point that many of us routinely attend gaudy and extravagant weddings for people who don’t really mean what they are saying. It is commonplace today to hear that so-and-so decided to cheat on their spouse or get a divorce because they felt “unhappy” or “lonely” or “unfulfilled.” Losing that “spark” or “growing apart” are now culturally accepted as legitimate moral grounds for breaking a solemn vow.
Huh? Isn’t this the whole reason that we take vows? The vows say “for better or for worse, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” The very existence of these vows anticipate the fact that difficult challenges are going to arise in a normal marriage. That’s exactly why you take those vows! This culture of easy divorce without any moral resistance from anyone is a logical head scratcher for sure. It’s bad for spouses. Bad for children. Bad for families and friends. Bad for society as a whole. And all this badness is built upon people telling lies publicly.
What could be worse than deserting the one person you have solemnly promised to love and support for the rest of your life? What could be more morally perverted than abandoning the one single person on earth who you have promised never to abandon?
I am so grateful that I married a woman who had the integrity to tell the truth when we stood before the altar. The past 20 years hasn’t exactly been easy for her. Despite the illnesses, conflicting ideas about how to spend our time and money, differences in tastes, streaks of incredible bad luck, periods of intense pressure and stress, and the fact that we still never finish each other’s sentences, she is still with me, her commitment as strong as ever. Sometimes I think that people might get the idea that I’m a better guy than I really am because I keep my dirty laundry off of social media. But Margy knows. She sees all my warts and mercifully loves me anyway, even when I don’t deserve it. That’s how my grandparents loved each other too. It’s what marriage is all about.
There are many good and valid reasons to have a big elaborate wedding celebration, especially when it serves to strengthen the bond of extended family and friends. I enjoy such weddings. Margy and I had one ourselves. But as far as its role in committing us to each other as husband and wife, a simple and sincere Tuesday morning wedding would have worked just as well. All it takes is two people who aren’t lying when they take a vow.
That can be done on a Tuesday morning.