The Jewish Wedding and Jesus – The Wedding Crowns

The Jewish Wedding and Jesus – The Wedding Crowns

The Jewish Wedding and Jesus – The Wedding Crowns.

As far as marital symbols go, it’s tough to beat wedding rings. They symbolize solid faithfulness and life-long commitment. The circular rings reminds us of eternity, of the lifelong nature of their commitment, and of the Source of Love that lasts forever. Rings are worn on the body, which means that one’s marriage is taken on personally, more intimately than any other relationship. And rings are visual, which reminds people that true love is demonstrated for all to see, and makes a tangible statement.

But there’s another wedding symbol that is full of significance. The problem is that only a relatively small branch of the Christian Church uses this symbol, and it turns out to be a central prop in their wedding ceremony. The Eastern Orthodox Church, in the middle of their wedding ceremony, conducts what is called the Coronation, or the Crowning. A crown is placed on both the bride and groom’s head, while the priest sings or states designated blessings. While placing a crown on the head of the groom, the priest recites these words.: “The servant of God is crowned unto the handmaiden of God, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Then a different crown is placed on the bride, and the priest recites: The handmaiden of God is crowned unto the servant of God, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Once this is done, the priest sings this blessing from Psalm 8:5 three times over the bride and groom: O Lord, our God, crown them with glory and honor.”

Why do the Orthodox believers perform this crowning ritual at their weddings? It is probably based on what occurred during Jewish weddings during the Roman era, in which the Jewish bride and groom wore a crown or a wreath of flowers… a powerful and fascinating tradition. What does the crowning mean?

First, the Orthodox are making the statement that a crown is a mark of royalty. The husband and wife have now become the king and queen of their newly created family. As the Church says, they are now “entrusted by God with the authority to rule this new family in faith and love and harmony with Christ. They both share in this responsibility and privilege, as a newly married couple.” So there’s the first reason for the symbol of the crowns: husband and wife have become royalty, king and queen of their home, ordained by God.

Secondly, there is another deep meaning for the marital coronation. Throughout the book of Revelation, crowns signify martyrdom and willing sacrifice. The whole notion of self-sacrifice and self-denial is crucial in the building of a biblical marriage. In this deepest of relationships, each partner is called upon to die to self, to freely give up rights, to forgive, to sacrifice for the needs of the home and the marital relationship. Marriage is a daily martyrdom, persistently and faithfully giving up self for the sake of the other.

The third meaning of these marital crowns is that they are crowns of virtue. God has promised to crown all believers with knowledge and wisdom, with love and compassion, with splendor and beauty (Proverbs 14:18Psalm 103:4Proverbs 4:9Proverbs 10:6). Believers are divinely crowned with eternal virtues. And significantly, God has promised in Scripture to crown the humble with salvation (Psalm 149:4). These wedding crowns, then, symbolize the blessing of the virtuous life. The newly wedded couple are saying here that they together are in earnest about living the life of goodness and blessedness before God.

The final meaning of these crowns is that they signify victory. To the victor belongs the crown (1 Corinthians 9:25 and 2 Timothy 4:7-8). Those crowns on the heads of the wedded couple anticipate the crowns all believers will wear after running the race of faith in this life. These victor crowns are immortal, eternal, and will eventually be laid at the feet of God on His throne in heaven.

So, wedding crowns pack a lot of meaning. They are royal crowns in which husband wife are designated as king and queen of their domain. They are crowns of martyrdom, in which they live a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice as they deepen their relationship. They are crowns of virtue, as they pursue a righteous life together. And they are the victor’s crown, pointing to the heavenly reward of a faithful life.

The Orthodox tradition is for the married couple to display their wedding crowns in a visible place in the home, “as a reminder that God has united them to each other and to Himself, and that He has bestowed His grace upon them to live in unity, faith and love.”

At this point in the wedding, the wedding crowns are placed on the heads of bride and groom, asking for God’s blessings upon them as they remember their royalty, their martyrdom, their virtue, and their ultimate victory.