You Are the Lord’s Daisho
The bride and the groom stood stolidly before the preacher as the parson spoke to the two of them and to the congregation about the responsibilities of marriage. Without warning the pastor, attired as a samurai, drew two swords, presenting a katana to the groom and a wakizashi to the bride. These long and short swords were a part of the apparel of the samurai. The evangelist explained to the couple, who were obviously surprised to receive a wedding gift from the minister, that in a sense he had presented them two swords, which in reality were one. But it was Jesus who said of marriage, “And they two shall become one flesh.” The two swords become a daisho. They were always to be together and never separated.
Armour Patterson, my son, has rejoiced in finding a thousand different ways in which he has tied the culture of Japan to the message of Christ during his years of service to the Japanese Baptist Church of North Dallas. This unique wedding gift to the couple whom he joined in marriage was only the latest example. What made the whole incident of special interest to me was that this ceremony took place in a church founded by Yutaka Takarada Sensei, a graduate of Criswell College in the early years of its existence. Takarada Sensei continues his ministry both here in Dallas and in Japan.
The novelty of the preacher presenting a wedding gift to the couple pledging their vows to each other is a unique part of the wedding ceremony, which Armour pioneered. Gifts differ in kind but inevitably they are valuable, particularly when it comes to the spirit and lesson taught through the gift. There is no guarantee that this couple will not walk through a divorce, but the presence of the daisho will certainly remind them of promises made to each other and to God.
And the lesson from samurai warriors is particularly germane to our day. In our culture, divorce may be easy enough to facilitate legally; but, as Jesus says, “They two shall be one flesh.” Whatever the cost legally, divorce is an amputation. Half of who you have become is lost to you. The results of amputation are always serious, and the cost is more than we can afford. The impact on the lives of others is devastating. Children, even those who are adults, are wounded and suffer the agonies of the breakup.
Now inevitably when this text of the Bible is expounded, there is a problem. Someone will demand, at least privately, to know why you are singling them out. Why don’t you exercise the grace of God in dealing with such subjects? If you just knew my circumstance, you would have proceeded with greater care and sensitivity.
So please allow me to point to comfort. First, God is a forgiving heavenly Father. Even if sometimes unpleasant, you are doing the right thing to hang around church. These are God’s people. They know only too well that we are all desperate sinners. Just as you need God’s forgiveness, so do we all. You have entered the corral of forgiven sinners, and they will love you and welcome you.
In the second place, if you have children and grandchildren, you do not want to commend the dissolving of marriage to them. I have yet to find a true follower of Christ who says, “Divorce was such a blessing that I am praying that all my offspring will experience it also.” Everyone I know wishes for his children and grandchildren a happy marriage. If that is true of you, then please allow us to indulge in “preventative medicine.” Allow us to teach God’s prescription for marriage in the hope that it will find a permanent home in the hearts of those you love.
And may we reckon often with the truth that God’s laws for marriage are not given to thwart happiness but to enhance joy. They are not given to us to create misery but to generate a life on this earth as much like heaven as possible. These principles are not ours for our mutual frustration but rather to teach us the most beautiful of all the arts – forgiveness.
On that note, let us never forget that none of us will ever have to forgive another human as much as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us. Therefore Jesus taught us to forgive others their trespasses even as Christ has forgiven our trespasses. There are two swords you have had vouchsafed to you, and they two become one in marriage.