What I Learned Watching the Royal Wedding

Like so many other women (and some men) in the world, I set my alarm a little early this past Friday. With an extra cup of coffee in hand I settled on our couch to watch the long anticipated Royal Wedding. Sure I was a little more tired at work on Friday, but it was worth it to watch a historical moment while texting about all of the details with my mom hundreds of miles away.

Some helpful evaluations have been written about the biblical implications of all of it (or at least I found them helpful), so I won’t rehash what has been said. You can read those posts here and here. But the thing that stood out to me most throughout the ceremony was the solemnity and reverence that permeated the affair. British people know how to respect authority, or at least show respect at the right time. I’m sure there is fault to find with all of the pomp and extravagance of a wedding of this magnitude, but I think there is something to learn from it too.

A lot could, and should, be said about the dead orthodoxy of the ceremony. Sure, Scripture was read, hymns were sung, and prayers were lifted up. But there was no passion, no life. As conservative Christians, who often are part of much livelier church services, it’s really easy to judge the theological ambivalence of so many of the people in Britain, most notably the Royal Family. And we should grieve over this desertion from the Gospel. Every culture has it’s hindrances to believing the gospel. Ours is an independent spirit that leads us to crave personal autonomy, not awestruck wonder at Another greater than ourselves. The British, while seeming to understand the importance of respect and awe, sit lifeless in a sea of theological liberalism and secularism.

The people of England’s respect for the Royal Family, and especially the Queen, made me think about the recent weddings of two former presidents. Both happened with very little fanfare. Neither wedding was televised before 2 billion people. And I certainly didn’t set my alarm for their weddings. Obviously, these families are not an established monarchy, but I think it’s something more than that. We don’t respect authority and leadership in the same way the British do. We were founded on individualism, not unity. Our roots are in independence, not dependence. Surely this independence has tremendous bearing on how we relate to God and his authority in our own lives.

We can talk all day about the spiritual deadness of the Royal Wedding and many in Britain, and it’s true. But before we start throwing stones at our friends across the pond, let’s remember that we too have our own vices and stumbling blocks when it comes to embracing the truth of the Gospel. We might say all of the right theological terms and actually read our Bibles, but if we are characterized by a spirit of it’s-just-me-and-Jesus individualism then our orthodoxy is just as dead.

I’m glad I experienced this historic day. It was a fun experience, and who doesn’t like a good wedding? I pray the best for the newly married couple. But more than anything I hope I learned a little more about what it means to honor and respect authority—most importantly the authority of a sovereign God over every fiber of my being. That was worth setting my alarm for.