July 11, 2024

My Son’s Wedding Bash, Our Future Wedding Bash, and Superabundance

Lead Pastor

Lead Pastor

David Milroy


Weddings are Joyful! 

Last Saturday, my son married an amazing young woman, Grace Bloomfield Milroy, whom we are honored to welcome into our family (pictures below). It was one of the best, most joyful weekends of my life for many reasons. I officiated the wedding, truly one of the great honors of my life. Grace and Hunter were as in love with each other as any couple I have seen at a wedding. Our extended family pitched in and helped out all weekend. Grace’s family is deeply Christian, and we share similar commitments to Christ. The reception was exuberant and the dancing went on the entire time (I am not the world’s most adept dancer, to put it mildly, but that didn’t stop me!). As I was talking with Grace’s dad that day, he said, I feel like ‘the anti-Job’ – so blessed in so many ways.” That puts it nicely. My cup has been filled to overflow, and I rejoice in the blessings God has so richly and undeservedly poured out on me. 

The whole event was like a foretaste of the redemption of Christ, when He returns in glory to pummel Satan, destroy evil and evildoers, and establish His kingdom of glory and joy forever. 

It was prophesied by Isaiah, in 25:6-8:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples 

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, 

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 

And he will swallow up on this mountain 

the covering that is cast over all peoples, 

the veil that is spread over all nations. 

He will swallow up death forever; 

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, 

It is our promised future (Revelation 19:6-9):

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, 


   For the Lord our God 

    the Almighty reigns. 

Let us rejoice and exult 

and give him the glory, 

for the marriage of the Lamb has come, 

and his Bride has made herself ready; 

it was granted her to clothe herself 

with fine linen, bright and pure”— 

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Weddings are Stressful! 

From my vantage point, this was not how things were tracking in the months leading up to the wedding. If you have never experienced the run-up to a modern wedding, it is quite stressful. The seemingly infinite number of choices about venues, caterers, cakes, colors, dresses, the invitation list, and the flowers, to name only a few, is daunting. The financial obligation, depending of course on the kind of wedding one has, is significant. For us parents of the groom (with three daughters approaching marrying age!), it was a sobering education. The rehearsal dinner was plenty for us to handle, and we bore a fraction of the responsibility that the parents of the bride carried. Of course, it is possible to opt out of all of the self-induced stress. A bride and groom could make a concerted effort to limit the costs and choices (eloping to Vegas seems simple). And in many situations, there is no “concerted effort to limit costs” required, because there is no money for an extravagant wedding and reception. It is a strange fact of our time that the effort and dollars spent planning for the wedding day far outpace the effort and investment spent preparing for the marriage. On the other hand, the planning and preparation and decisions required to have a big-event wedding, along with the communication and negotiations necessary with both sets of parents, might be the best testing ground for the marriage a young couple could have. Put another way, if you can make it through planning a wedding together, you can make it through just about anything. 

My dad wryly compared Hunter’s wedding (also, in fairness, mine – we had a big, extravagant wedding and reception) to his own. Dad drove from Newport News where he was stationed in the Navy to Defiance, Ohio on a week of leave.  No rehearsal, no rehearsal dinner. Instead, a 20 minute meeting with the pastor followed by the ceremony in front of 30 or so family members and a couple friends. The reception followed at the local Holiday Inn. The next day, a drive to Chicago for a few days of a honeymoon (in January, a great time to be in the Windy City!), and then back to Newport. Neither pomp nor circumstance could be found anywhere. 

People + freedom + risk = Superabundance

Why has the “wedding-industrial complex” grown so massively in the last 50 years? We could assess it with a jaundiced eye – the young couple is being overly indulged; the young couple wants an “instagram wedding” with all the best pics and vids to post; it is a conspiracy to take as much cash out of the hands of the young bride’s parents as legally possible. Those might all be true, but they do not contain the whole truth. Virtually every “(fill in the blank)-industrial complex” has grown exponentially over the last 50 years. Should we lament this reality? Obviously, growth and complexity come with various prices to pay. But we should by no means lament. We should praise God for the growth of all kinds of blessings of prosperity, including but not limited to air conditioning, antibiotics, joint replacements, roller coasters, air travel, annual vacations, and big wedding parties. 

In their fascinating work Superabundance, two economists, Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley lay out the statistical data describing just how wealthy the world has become. Lest anyone think they are only talking about New Albanyites and their comfortable Western neighbors, almost everyone in the world has made fabulous, exponential gains. There is great inequality of income and wealth in the world, but that should not obscure the fact that almost everyone has moved from extreme poverty to relative material prosperity in a relatively short period of time. In fact, the extremely poor have benefitted the most from the last two centuries of unprecedented growth. In 1820, 90% of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today it is less than 10% (p. 287). “There have been benefits aplenty for the typically wealthy owners of land or capital and for the educated. But industrialized economies saved their best gifts for the poorest” (p.127). 

From Caesar Augustus’ day at the turn of the first millennium until 1800, the average daily income rose from $2 per day to $2.80 per day, a modest 40% gain in 1,800 years. Then, from 1800 to today, it grew, globally, 1400%, and in the US, 2400% (p.286).

These statistics tend to wash over us. Consider one concrete example, the cost of lighting one’s home. In 1800, 1.5 million lumen hours of light per year (one 100 watt bulb turned on for 3 hours a day for a year) would have required about 17,000 candles. This would have cost an average worker about 1,000 hours of labor. Today, the same 1.5 million lumen hours can be bought for 10 minutes of an average laborers wage. This is astonishing growth (forward, xv). 

The counterintuitive but very convincing case Tupy and Pooley make is that we have gained such exponential wealth and blessing because of population growth, combined with the right political culture which allows for freedom and risk-taking, which in turn leads to incredible innovation. From a Christian perspective, “be fruitful and multiply” is a command that comes with specific material bounty. The more people, the more blessing. 

This stands in direct contrast to the doom and gloom predictions made in the past and present. A British pastor named Thomas Malthus predicted in 1798 that world population growth would cause catastrophic food shortages and dire conditions as all the resources on the planet would be used up. British philosopher Bertrand Russell reiterated this thesis after WWII, declaring that humans would overpopulate planet earth and cause an apocalyptic disaster. Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb in 1968 influenced policy makers with its similarly dire predictions. If you want a comic book comparison, think Thanos in the Avengers snapping his finger to reduce the universe’s population by half. This idea is so pervasive that it is almost assumed. It is repeated over and over by environmentalists. It is also completely erroneous:

“The greater the population, the more likely it is that a creative mind will emerge to invent a solution to a pressing problem (i.e., increase supply to meet growing demand). Moreover, human beings are the only animals capable of building on past inventions. Therefore, as the population grows, information accumulates and innovation accelerates.”

Material prosperity won’t save us. We need Jesus. No amount of wealth will bring the joy and peace that the Gospel gives. Still, it is a great blessing to live in the time in which we live. To have a blowout wedding party celebrating the creation of a new family and the gift of marriage is a joy. Still more joyful is the blessing of the fruit of marriage, children. May there by many many more, in our family and in all families, to the great blessing of all. 


Pastor David Milroy