Russell Moore explains why he declines to marry couples who write their own wedding vows. To get the full rationale, you should read or listen to all of it. But here’s a snippet of his argument:
And when a couple writes his or her own vows, or when a couple together writes their own vows, what’s happening is that couple is suggesting somehow that their vows are unique. The vows are not unique; as a matter of fact, as a friend of mine who is a pastor puts it often, what makes the wedding, any particular wedding, significant is not what makes it different from every other wedding but what makes it the same.
A couple starting out a wedding frankly don’t know the vows that they need to make without the rest of the body of Christ, with those who’ve gone before them. A twenty-five-year-old couple, they are not thinking about Alzheimer’s disease. They are not thinking about what happens when we find out that our small child is dying with cancer. They don’t think about what happens if one of us commits adultery and we have to work through the aftermath of that. The rest of the body of Christ is speaking of the fact that the vows you are making to one another aren’t simply when things are in conditions as they are right now, and it’s not simply when things are in conditions that you can imagine right now, but it’s in sickness and in health; for richer, for poorer; till death do us part. Those are the sorts of vows that ought to be made.
You can listen to the entire answer below or read the rest here.
I find it interesting that the details of a wedding ceremony are not given in Scripture; for me, this implies some flexibility. In my marriage teaching, I make recommendations on what wedding vows should include, based on Scripture. It is a good Bible study for anyone, but especially an engaged couple to do, as it is not in one easily-found place.
When I am talking over a ceremony with a couple and the question about writing their own vows comes up I explain the importance of the traditional vows and why they are worthwhile, but allow them the option of writing something personal to their spouse that can be included alongside the traditional vows as well.
Wedding vows are a pretty personal choice. People may not always know what they’re getting into when they get married, but we’re all familiar with illness. There are a lot of reasons ppl get divorced, but I’m not sure not saying “in sickness and in health” is one of them.