After last week's royal wedding, I was disappointed not to see William wheel Kate through the streets of London in a barrow. So much for the modern monarchy.
Despite what you may think of me for that misgiving, I am culturally within my right to comment on things royal because my background is directly Canadian and Scottish. So the British monarchy, by heritage, is mine.
The most encouraging thing to note about the wedding is how traditional and thus how Christian it was. Elton John did not perform a special rendition of "Your Song." The assembled guests sang the old Welsh hymn, "Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer," and Charles Wesley's "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling."
The service featured a Scripture reading, and a powerful one: Romans 12. It captures much of the spirit of Christian marriage.
"Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (9-18, RSV).
There was no Muslim prayer, nor reading from the Quran, from the Bhagavad Gita, or even from a contemporary secular poet. It was a traditional Anglican service of worship that named the Lord Jesus Christ without reservation and presented the inspired Word of God as central. The Archbishop of Canterbury even mentioned the Day of Judgment.
That in 2011 we should see a British public event of this importance lodged so squarely in the Christian tradition is a sign of hope. Prince William, the future British king (God willing) and now the Duke of Cambridge, appears to be drawn in two opposite directions. He is steeped in popular culture. Royals are far from immune to this. This includes everything from rock and roll to relativism. His father, Prince Charles, has suggested that Parliament change the monarch's title from Defender of the Faith to the defender of merely "faith," putting Christianity on a level with all other religions. Yet William is also tied into the noble history and traditions of British royalty, and within that grand tradition is a Christian tradition. Friday's wedding demonstrated that William's world includes a powerful Christian influence. The royal lad's heart is not beyond the ordinary means of God's grace.
The Apostle Paul tells Timothy to pray "for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). When William one day ascends the throne, he will not have direct political authority. But the way he conducts himself will have profound influence over his people for good or ill. Will he be an example of "whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure" (Philippians 4:8), or will he be a modern blend of aristocratic moral dissolution and democratic vulgarity? Will he grow into a mirror of Christian kingship or of the tyranny of passion in the seat of privilege? "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will" (Proverbs 21:1).