’Tis the season.

More than any other time of the year people are celebrating their connection in marriage. Having aged into “friends of Mom and Dad” status, my wife and I have been to many weddings in the last few years. We’ve noticed that this ceremony, which was languishing in our culture, has been enlivened in recent years by my generation’s children getting married.

These days the act of marriage is at best deferred, but definitely its inevitability has been diminished. Weddings happen, but fewer, later — and these long-planned, very expensive, highly produced gatherings are pretty programmed affairs.

But the real story is that God has been left off the guest list.

These less-young adults get together to have an amazing party: multigenerational, in beautiful settings, with great food, drink, LOUD music, and embarrassing dancing prefaced by a quick “ceremony.” Locations are often secular in their natural or cultural beauty — but less often in a place of worship. The ceremony is so perfunctory that in the Q&As rota are recited: no one memorizes anything. The leader of the ceremony is seldom clergy: most often the “officiant” is either a friend or relative that has gotten the minimal state cred to “pronounce.”

These are fun, happy, meaningful events, but they have largely lost any meaning beyond their direct importance to the participants and attendees. Every one of these couplets have lived together before marriage. Sex has occurred between the betrothed for years, thousands upon thousands of times, and the toilet seat has been left up, laundry done and undone; fights, triumphs, food and health are all under the belt before consecrated marriage begins.

There has been a life before marriage, and because it’s 2017, here in Connecticut that life has largely been lived without the presence of anything more important than the love felt between the humans involved. There is seldom a sense of a bigger picture, of the biggest picture — God and what the connection between two people means beyond themselves and their intimates — except when it comes to having children.

In almost all the unions, babies are the only reason to get married. The other, great, deeply obvious part of marriage remains commemorating the full love the couple feels for each other, their families, their friends: it’s a unique, powerful human declaration. Marriage has always been a human event, a huge mirror to the lives we make with and for each other. But in 2017, that love is often commemorated without God, let alone Jesus, acknowledged in anyone’s lives.

My Jazz-Age parents were, indeed, married in a church, in my mother’s home town. But they had lived together for a year in the mid-1930s before they married, and had no thought of children at the time. So there are variants. My wife and I were, perhaps, the only American wedding couple who did not live together before marriage in 1980 — but then again, we had only known each other for 6 months. But then again it’s only been 37 years…

We had only vestigial families, so we “did” the wedding ourselves — generations before the Internet. So we found a church (not my idea), trusted Curate Paul F. M. Zahl, memorized our lines and, of course, eschewed communion.

Variations on the theme of marriage are the norm: because humans are exquisitely variable. The love transcends sex, age, class, location, family — even food. But there is a growing loss of variety. It may be that getting married in “smart” places like New England or Europe will become completely human — and secular.

The registration of the extreme, fervent love between two primped bags of hormones to the essential love of God has left the building (or wedding venue) for a growing number of betrothed. There is no reference to a larger, older, more universal place, where Love is not just marriage and family. The elephant in the event, for those who have been there in a religious sensibility, is that love is alive in the reality of God. Not just at weddings and funerals, but every day.

At these events, the self-written statements, their poems and quotes and songs, all convey the reality of an explosive, permanent connection that most of us have come to make: but rarer is the less sexy, almost annoying dogged love we have without a ceremony — the love of God.

Instead the humanity of this species’ unique bonding, marriage, family, friends, becomes publically acknowledged in a perfectly forging 21st-century reality: the Internet. Where once a Bible or Prayer book, and it’s messenger, a cleric, was today’s website and laptop of the marriage ceremony, Faith was once celebrated as the direct foundation and extension of the lovers themselves. Today their carefully selected cyber-codified traditions makes for the sheen that a church ceremony used to provide.

The vestiges of the God Times — words, rings, even a citation of the sanctioned spirituality of the officiant — remain, but the grueling hour or more of integration with thousands of years of millions of other marriages has vanished in ceremonies that have no history, only the Internet, as back-up: and the Internet is now. There are no atheists in foxholes, and at death, something greater than the end of life touches us. Babies at birth connect us to a place beyond the comfortable limits of the people involved. But increasingly, for many, marriage is losing a connection to anything more than the love of the celebrants.

We love these new weddings, these people, the relaxation of the Law of Canon in favor of the Love of Humans. There is undeniable power and positivity in open, official recognition of human love — a great good thing. But many have lost the Love of God in these, hopefully, once-in-a-lifetime ceremonies.

Yet the Love of God has not lost us.

Love only exists because we are loved. Completely, unreasonably, without ceremony or Canon — not just by those few other humans in our family but by the love of a mysterious and infinite God.