Happy Anniversary to My Honey

Two years ago today, I walked down the aisle of my hometown church in North Carolina in a white wedding dress . . . and washed my husband’s feet.

Foot-washing at wedding

I anticipate some raised eyebrows right about now, perhaps even some recoiling in disgust. How awkward, how distasteful, for a moment that’s meant to be so sacred—and so photographed!  The apostle Peter had a similar reaction when on the night before his Lord’s crucifixion, Jesus rolled up his tunic, bent down, and raised a washcloth to his feet.  “Lord, why are you washing my feet?” Peter asked, embarrassed.  Jesus responded, “Unless I wash your feet, you have no part with me.”  Continuing on to John 13:12 . . .

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Yes, that’s right.  Eric and I chose John 13 as our wedding text.  Not 1 Corinthians 13 (the “love chapter”), and not Ephesians 5 (husbands lead, wives submit).  Instead of centering the ceremony on the words of Paul, we wanted to center it on the words of Jesus—on his message of radical, self-emptying love.  Although the context of this passage does not speak directly to the husband-wife relationship (it extends much farther than that), we found in it a picture, a standard, of what we want to aspire to in our marriage. 

My commitment was and is this:  to always put Eric’s needs above my own; to actually bend down and exert myself to meet those needs, risking personal discomfort or disadvantage in doing so; to be humble and tender always; to never think myself greater or more worthy than him; and to simply serve him in love at all times.

Foot-washing at wedding

Foot-washing at wedding

Foot-washing at wedding

Eric washed my feet too.  In fact, he went first; he initiated—a picture of his commitment to lead us both in the way of Christ.

I do believe that God has assigned specific roles in marriage which are for the best interests of both parties and for God’s greatest glory, and that in matters in which consensus cannot be reached, the wife has the duty to defer to the husband.  But I am disappointed that Ephesians 5:21, which actually introduces the marriage portion of that chapter, is so often omitted from wedding ceremonies in favor of more complementarian (read: hierarchical) emphases:  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” it says.  Instead of getting hung up on what follows, why not start by embodying this command that’s laid out up front?  That in itself will prevent a whole host of issues.

Husbands and wives are spiritual equals; neither is higher than the other.  Both are called to love and respect each other, just as Christ loves and respects his church, and as his church loves and respects him.  Both are called to place himself/herself under the other.

Foot-washing was my and Eric’s visual reminder of this calling; it was our own special sacrament, which we celebrated before God on June 25, 2010.

After Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, he told them to do as he did, and that if they did, they would be blessed.  What a promise!  I definitely have been blessed in my marriage, and I believe that is due in part to our embracing of the servant-love that Christ demonstrated in John 13.  Our execution is, no doubt, imperfect, but Christ’s Spirit has given us the power and grace to follow through.

The world says that it’s backwards and degrading for a woman to ever submit to a man, but I’ve been finding that there is a purpose and a beauty and an honor to it within marriage.  Submission is a Christ-like posture; why wouldn’t I be happy to assume it?  Especially when I know that my husband loves me and has vowed to put my interests above his own in all the decisions we make.

I love you, Eric!  Thanks for being such a strong and selfless leader, and for showing me every day how much you love me, by following the example that Christ left us at the Last Supper.

Foot-washing at wedding

Foot-washing at wedding

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8 Responses to Happy Anniversary to My Honey

  1. Simply Beautiful 🙂

  2. thecla says:

    whered u get this idea? i had never seen this in a wedding, so cool & original. i agree re paul, half of his letters r pseudo epigraphies, & the lines in his epistles that talk about women in marriage & community were most likely inserted. u should cover thecla & paul as part of a series on iconoclastic marriages whether platonic or true, canon or apocryphal.

    • I first saw this when I was in middle school, when I went to the wedding of my friend’s older sister Amelia. I thought it was so beautiful, and my husband happily went along with the idea when I proposed it to him.

      I didn’t mean to imply that I believe that Paul’s words are any less inspired or trustworthy than the words we find in the Gospels. (I do understand that there has been much critical debate on this point, though.) I only mean that if we want to see what love in action looks like, we need to look first and foremost at Jesus. When Eric and I did that, we found that foot-washing provided the most concrete symbol of what we were saying “I do” to. Paul’s teachings on marriage have, sadly, been misinterpreted and misapplied to such a great extent in the church, and are often used to justify all kinds of abuses, but like I said, I do believe that they represent God’s plan for marriage–in their pure form, not in their distorted forms.

      I’ve never read the Acts of Paul and Thecla, but thanks for bringing that text to my attention. I’ll have to look into it.

  3. Kyle Sullivan says:

    Vic (& Eric :)! So great to see the grace of the Lord in Jesus still being rested in and applied in your lives together! I praise the Lord for the sweet spirit and conscious testimony you exibited throughout my time as your youth pastor and more so, I believe, your friend. Great words above in your blog. To God be the glory alone! I was humbled to be a part of your special day! Happy Anniversary!

  4. Betsy says:

    I loved this Vic. Your wedding (and particularly the foot washing) is one of my most treasured and beautiful memories. I wish you and Eric many more blessed years together.

  5. Allie Larson says:

    This is absolutely incredible. As a teenager whose always dreamed of doing this with my future husband, not many people my age understand, and are often times too shallow to see the meaning behind it. 😦 DEFINITELY sharing this with my boyfriend, and it’s amazing to see someone else make this kind of commitment! Congratulations 🙂 you are obviously a very blessed couple. ❤

  6. heritagebc says:

    This is so beautiful– what better way to launch a lifetime of service to Christ as a team.

  7. ravi says:

    I’m gonna use this idea for my Marriage….
    Thanq for sharing this…
    May God use your lives for extension of His kingdom…
    Praise the LORD…

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