Because we live in a day without many absolutes, it is necessary to reiterate basic truths. Socially, marriage and family serve as a microcosmic indicator of whether society will succeed or fail. Spiritually, marriage also serves as a similar gauge.
Truth #1 - Marriage is a Covenant
Although a couple may refer to marriage as a covenant, they may treat it more like a contract. The words “…’til death do us part” were likely included in their vows without acknowledging the likelihood of some “irreconcilable difference” over a lifetime. The big question comes when one partner ignorantly or purposefully breaks their vow to love and cherish. Contractually, it seems appropriate for the spouse to sever the relationship since their partner failed to meet the obligations they vowed to uphold. On the other hand, the obligations of covenant relationships remain intact until death releases them. (Note: There are valid reasons to leave a marriage, namely abuse, abandonment, and infidelity. True Relationships has witnessed hundreds of marriages restored and healthy after being impacted by adultery. Abandonment has virtually no recourse for correction. Abuse of any kind is unacceptable and must be confronted and eradicated immediately. If the abuser fails to respond immediately, the journey toward divorce must begin.)
This kind of surrender is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it seems impossible unless we understand it on a deep, spiritual level. Only then can one begin to understand the love, acceptance, and forgiveness necessary to maintain a covenant relationship. As Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest, “‘My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest—my best for His glory.’ To reach that level of determination is a matter of will, not debate or reasoning. It is an absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point.” Are you bringing the BEST you have to offer to your marriage?
Truth #2 - Marriage is Holy
“This couple will be joined in Holy Matrimony” – we often use this phrase in our wedding ceremonies, but do we really understand it? In my research of this phrase I was shocked to discover that there were virtually NO Evangelical Christian internet sites that defined or illuminated the concept of holy matrimony. Over 90% were Catholic sites that dealt with it as one of their sacraments. “For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God’s values.” Have some of us missed this holy element of marriage? Have we lost the sacredness, the mystery?
So What Makes Marriage Holy?
- God instituted marriage – “What God has put together let no man separate.” Matthew 19:6
- Jesus blessed marriage – in its honor He performed His first miracle at a wedding
- Marriage is spiritual – “…the two will become one.” Ephesians 5:31
- Marriage is one of the primary tools God uses to make us holy. In the context of marriage, I am forced to see my own sin and self-centeredness than in any other relationship.
- Marriage is designed by God to produce more holiness – “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring.” Malachi 2:15
Holiness in marriage is expressed through these primary functions:
- Covenant commitment – a radical promise to love our spouses as they are while nurturing them to become all they designed to be.
- Oneness – unity, communion
- Respect – mutual love and honor and submission
- Fidelity – total faithfulness
Truth #3 - Marriage is a Responsibility
“Be fruitful and multiply.” Genesis 1:28 The blessing came with the responsibility of managing, ruling, and protecting.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7
It is during those casual times that Moses says our responsibilities unfold – when you sit at home and when you are on a walk! Marriage is about sacrifice and faith. It is an investment into future generations. It is more about loving than being loved. About giving, not getting. Marriage is the basis for family and the family provides the building blocks for a successful future.
A long-term marriage has to move beyond “chemistry” and compatibility to embrace friendship and companionship. Take responsibility for where your marriage is and what needs to happen for it to thrive!