If you can honestly testify that you don’t know who Kim Kardashian is, give me a good Baptist, “Amen.” Congratulations, you are among the people who are privileged to live in the real world outside of “reality TV.” My guess is that your work, family, and faith give you all the realism you need.

I’ve never watched Kim’s show, but I’m a news junkie, so sometimes I’ll inadvertently get a sniff of worthless news like the recent wedding between her and pro basketball player Kris Humphries. I suppose I ought to plug my newsy nose before I overdose on the junk, but I can’t help but feel intrigued by the wedding’s $20 million price tag.

No, you didn’t stumble onto the gossip page; this is still a spirituality column and that said, I should probably abandon my attempt at sacred sarcasm and make my point.

In the more than one hundred weddings I’ve officiated, I’ve beheld the pageantry of limos, gowns and tuxedos. I’ve watched couples mortgage their future on what is often a pompous spectacle of champagne, balloons, flowers and flashing cameras. And I have to tell you that after seeing a day of diamonds, dresses, drunken diners, and even doves, I remain unimpressed.

Real marriage is a lifetime while the wedding remains simply a “day” in your life — just one single, obscenely expensive, day on the calendar. And at the end of that wedding day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a princess or a pauper; if you haven’t come to the wedding to start a marriage, all you have is a forgettable party.

It’s easy to see the exchange of vows as the most beautiful part of ceremony, but as a chaplain who’s been doing this marrying-burying thing for over thirty years, I’ll tell you that nothing matches the beauty of two people who’ve spent a lifetime fulfilling their promise of “in sickness or in health, for richer or poorer, ‘til death do us part.”

This year, I stood with my father-in-law pastor, Wil, as death parted him from his wife, Darla, of 57 years. It was the saddest day of my life apart from the day I lost my father. Yet, ironically, I also rejoice in that day. For you see, while I wasn’t there on that May day in 1954 to hear them say, “I do,” I was humbly privileged to witness that March moment they could profoundly claim, “We did.”

In the days after Darla’s death, Wil recalled the Genesis scripture, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” Inspired by the passage, he addressed this journal entry to Darla: “You were everything to me: companion, lover, friend, counselor, pianist, cook, laundry maid, my conscience, associate pastor, typist, telephone receptionist, family contact person and a loving presence that I enjoyed in every way. I often pray each day, ‘God, thank you for the gift of my wife – what a gift she was! … Now, as you take care of me, please care for her.”

Brother, that’s love. Sister, that’s pageantry, and if someone would grant me $20 million to showcase that love on national television, we could preempt the October broadcast of the Kardashian wedding. Can I get another, “Amen?”


Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of No Small Miracles. He also serves as an Air National Guard Chaplain and is board certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains. You can call him at (321) 549-2500, E-mail him at Norris@thechaplain.net, visit his website at www.thechaplain.net, or write him at PO Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759.