1 Peter 1:18-19 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
These are some of the words that we often hear in a traditional wedding ceremony. Last Saturday these vows were spoken at our church by a young couple starting their lives together. The words were still ringing in my mind Monday morning while standing at our office copy machine. I ran a bill of sale for an automobile sold at an auction through the machine and when I grabbed the copy I happened to notice the verbiage on the receipt.
Know all men by these presents that the grantor for an amount paid by the grantee the receipt which is hereby acknowledged, does hereby grant, transfer, and deliver unto the grantee all interests in the said vehicle TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the same unto the grantee and heirs and assigns forever.
I was so surprised to see the words TO HAVE AND TO HOLD on the bill of sale and wondered why those same words would be used in a wedding ceremony. Looking the phrase up in the The Law.com Dictionary I noted that the old phrase means the one who transfers property has the property in hand and intends to hold it and transfer it to the transferee. It also stated that in the wedding ceremony the phrase indicates the intention of the parties to be joined together as one – five little words that I have often heard but which are pregnant with meaning.
A couple repeating their vows are entering into a legal contract with each other. They promise that no one else will share in their union physically or emotionally. They agree to belong to each other, loving, cherishing, sharing, and working together as one flesh until death do they part.
The Bible speaks of the union of Christ and the church in terms of a marriage. When someone puts his faith in Jesus as Savior he becomes part of the bride of Christ, or the church. As he unites himself with the Lord he becomes one with Christ in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).
Not only is our relationship with the Lord compared to a marriage commitment but it is also a purchase. The sinner who receives Christ is not purchased from sin with money, but with the precious blood of the Son of God. Our lives are freed from Satan’s power and delivered to God TO HAVE AND TO HOLD forever. We are no longer our own. We have been bought with a price and now belong to Him – body, soul, and spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I take great comfort in these words. It is a safe place to be married to someone who loves you and has your best interest at heart. But allowing the loving God of the universe to HAVE AND TO HOLD you is the safest place of all.
People will let us down and they will not always be around when you need them. Even the best of marriages will not be perfect. But when you belong to the Lord, you are eternally secure forever. He bought you with the price of His blood, and as part of the body of Christ, the church, you are His bride.
Receive Him today as your Savior and you will be His TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, from this day forward for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. And the best part is that not even death from Him can you part.