Ladies and gentlemen... My husband, Tony Cordova... :0)
Wedding Dress Shopping for Men
I get it that in our culture men have little or nothing to do with what his bride wears on their wedding day and it’s probably for the best. Most men see the dress for the first when their wife-to-be walks in through the back doors of the church on the wedding day. I really don’t even think that the dress gets much of our attention. Big, white, elegant, flowing, YES! Let’s get this show on the road! Men tend to give more attention to the woman in the dress and her radiant countenance as she glides down the isle toward us. The only people thinking “Hmm, I wonder where she bought that?” or “I wonder if that’s by a prominent designer?” are other women dreaming of their own future weddings or judging. Imagine it was the man’s job to get the dress for his bride and the first time she wore it was “day of”. It simply wouldn’t fit! For the woman with the optimistic future husband the dress would be a size “0” and would probably be way too tight. The poor woman marrying a pessimist might end up swimming in hers. Either way, every woman would be offended on that day, and yes, people would laugh as the bride passed and saw that the back could not be zipped due to a little extra back-fat!
In the book of Revelation, we get a glimpse of the wedding of all weddings. It’s the wedding that all other weddings are only a shadow of. On that day there is a loud announcement so great that it sounds something like a heavy thunderstorm! ‘”Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Revelation 19:7-8). This moment in time is the crowning moment for all of Christianity. It is why Jesus died on the cross, so that some day He could free us from the “fall” and be reunited for eternity. We all know Paul’s command to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” To simplify, Jesus went to great lengths to make sure his bride would be pure on His wedding day and then He commands husbands to love their wives with this same sacrificial and purifying love. I’m not good at this as a husband and found out that my marriage was suffering because of it.
Now back to husbands shopping for wedding dresses. Check out what John noticed as he eavesdropped on this wedding. “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright” We do not show up in heaven dressed for the occasion. On our arrival, He has clothing ready for us to wear. Now linen was worn by kings and priests and there is a lot of symbolism here but more important is what is said next. “…for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” So my wedding dress is made up of my good works! It took me a while to see what is so amazing about that and how greatly that can affect a marriage. So, we know that salvation is two parts: faith on my part and grace on God’s. (Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”) This would lead some to think that works are kind of pointless since they do not play a role in salvation. But works are far from worthless, they just can’t save you. Faith and grace are for the saving of the soul. The question that arises for me is, “What happens to all of the hard work that we do out of gratitude and love for Jesus?” We know from scripture what happens to every bad and sinful thing we do. God forgives it and removes it so far away that it is in an eternal flight away from you as east never stops fleeing from west (Psalm 103:12). Also we know that our omniscient God chooses to erase His hard drive of our failures (Hebrews 8:12). Logically you could conclude that biblically, as long as you are a sinner confessing your sins, God sees you and treats you as a first time offender when you do make the same mistake over and over. He doesn’t judge you as a habitual sinner but as if you made that one mistake and He forgives it fast and generously. So, life is a timeline of good and bad choices. The bad ones God throws far away, and God has a good arm by the way! The good things that are done out of love for Him He saves and creates a garment so beautiful that it is fit for His bride and this is what you will wear for an eternity. Every time He looks upon you, He will see every good thing done in your lifetime to honor Him (“for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”).
What does this have to do with my marriage? If husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church and from Ephesians we can see that this love is actually to help to purify our wives, (“not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”) then maybe we can take our cue from Jesus’ first act in marriage to His bride the Church. He makes her beautiful by first dying in her place for all of her ugliness and clothes her with her lifetime of good works never to be forgotten.
I have gotten to do a little pre-marriage counseling and have found that it is good to be really honest with the young couples. One thing that I try to make really clear is that there is not another person in their lifetime who will be close enough to hurt them more than their spouse. A marriage is two sinners being tied together like an angry dog and cat thrown in a box and shaken up. At least that’s what a good argument feels like. What if, from the moment a man said “I do”, he started there writing down or saving in his mind every good thing that his wife did and forgiving and forgetting her failures quickly. What if he didn’t feel the need to use words like “always” and “never” to make his spouse feel like a habitual sinner and terminal failure every time they fought? How much more would a woman want to give herself to a man who only saw beauty and goodness in her and treated her sin as first time offenses?
I am a horrible person when it comes to an arguing. I have a lame memory when it comes to most things but when I am in a fight I can remember so clearly every detail of my wife’s past failures. I love it when I’m “winning” the battle. Victory is when she goes from defending herself to feeling really bad for failing me AGAIN! Then she feels she has to make up for her imperfection and I get rewarded. Marriage becomes a painful place where “rights” are demanded and score is kept.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us that love keeps no record of wrong. The only way to do this is to love as Jesus does and start score keeping in a whole new light by recording and highlighting every good thing about your spouse. How much more will you get out of a relationship when you put your wife back on the “pedestal” she deserves and out from under your foot? I believe that the reason this glimpse into the future was given to us so long before the actual event was because Jesus desires for us to have His example to follow so that Christian marriages would be strong and healthy. Women would want to marry Christian men because their wives thrive the most and are NEVER divorced and are visibly cherished. I have a long way to go in this and am far from cured from my own self-centeredness, but at least I know now what it really means to extend to Abbi what God extends to me and pray that I become a better blessing to the “mommy who has thoughts” and writes them here.