“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
Fifty percent of marriages fail. Shocking, heartbreaking, and discouraging but a reality nonetheless, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that percentage continues to climb. Why? Why is it that half of all those young lovers that stare into each other’s love-struck eyes and recite the same vows and celebrate with family and friends and dance and eat cake and throw rice end those covenant commitments in divorce? Why? It’s heartbreaking, really. Many of you reading this post have no doubt experienced this fall-out, either first-hand or your parents’ marriages didn’t stand the test of time. I am also a product of a broken home. Why? Why is it that the institution of marriage is crumbling all around us? Why are more and more people waiting and waiting to marry and still many others rejecting the idea of it all together? Why? Why is co-habitation an increasing normalcy while “tying the knot” is somehow considered old fashioned, a thing of the past? Why?
I recently found myself in conversation about these very questions with a dear friend of mine. She and her boyfriend have been together for 9 years. That’s right, 9 years and have little to no interest in ever getting married. “Why would we?”, she would say. They’ve both been surrounded by marriages that have failed, and both have little to no confidence in the idea of marriage. They live together and perform life in most ways as a married couple but will not make it official. As we discussed this issue back and forth, I couldn’t help but come to an understanding of all of the “whys”.
’til death do us part
That’s a permanent commitment. The idea of permanency, other than in the form of tattoos, has become increasingly out of style. No one wants to be bound to anything forever. Sadly, marriage is now viewed more as a contract than a covenant. Wedding vows are actually being reworded to remove “until death do us part” to instead include such phrases as “as long as we both shall love”, successfully removing the permanency of the commitment that the two are choosing to enter into.
Here’s some food for thought – What if God never intended marriage for our happiness, but rather for our holiness? Two imperfect people coming together before and under God, sharpening each other through the storms of adversity, and the commitment “until death do us part” being the glue that holds them together rather than the pursuit of happiness…what if that is what God intended? I would submit to you today that that IS what He intended – for marriage to make us more holy. We, however, are far more interested in the pursuit of happiness than the pursuit of holiness. When people or things begin to disappoint us and let us down, we turn to someone or something else. Because marriage has become nothing more than a contract that can easily be broken or even annulled, we’ve lost the beauty and the gift that marriage can be.
Marriage: the closest earthly relationship that we can have that mirrors Christ’s love for and relationship with His church. Marriage is a gift, but love is a choice.
I’m not suggesting to you that marriage is easy. It’s not. Disappointment is very real and can leave deep wounds that cause incredible pain. Marriage is a covenant relationship, though, a commitment under God that binds two individuals and makes them one. It requires tenacity and fierce dedication and hard work, and all of it has the ability to sharpen us and make us more like Jesus Christ.
To all the married ladies: I have no idea where you are at in your marriage, and I am not judging anyone. I’m simply asking each one of us, including myself, to take a deep look into God’s Word and allow its truth to be the mirror by which we see all things. God cares much about your holiness and knows that your pursuit of God will bring lasting joy, which far surpasses any form of happiness.
To all the single ladies: Pursue God with all your heart. Passionately run after Jesus Christ and cling to His Word. May your heart be so wrapped up in the love of Christ that any man that desires you must run to God first to find you. That common thread of faith and that solid foundation of hope in Christ will perhaps be the ONLY thing at times that holds you together in marriage.