A number of years ago, as my husband Steve and I were waiting in the City Courthouse to obtain passports. We noticed a man and a woman who were obviously going to get married that day. There was so much kissing, hugging, laughing, and talk of “love” going on that you could almost see the electricity of it all in the air. How we hope they take their marriage commitment seriously.
In contrast, standing next to them in another line, was a woman who was filing for divorce. There was also another woman behind her who was also filing for divorce. The air around them was filled with anything but love and optimism! It was obvious, from the countenance and the words they were throwing around, that they were extremely hurt and angry!
Steve and I remarked to each other that it was surprising that a thunderstorm didn’t erupt before our very eyes in the courthouse. The clash of the different forms of energy these people were emitting in the same room!
Marriage Commitment on Both Sides
How tragic it was to see the difference in the countenance of all of these people. The couple who were getting married were obviously overjoyed as their dreams were being realized. They apparently were ready to enter into a marriage commitment. The others were noticeably distraught as their dreams appeared to be shattered.
We’re sure those who were divorcing, never in their wildest imaginations, ever thought on their wedding day that they’d ever be standing in line to get a divorce. How could something that starts out with so much joy and enthusiasm deteriorate into such utter sadness and distress? What could have happened we wondered?
Tragically, a lot can happen! And more people than we can count have found that to be true! And yet marrying and divorcing is still going on all around us. But what’s especially distressing is that those who claim to be “Christians” are marrying and divorcing at almost the same rate as those who don’t live by the values of Christ. Why is that, we wonder?
Marriage Commitment Has Changed
One of the many, many reasons, we surmise, is that marital commitment isn’t want it used to be. We see this from the rising divorce rate in recent years. And it definitely isn’t what it SHOULD be —not by Biblical standards, especially! The question we ask is: What has happened to keeping our promises of commitment to live out our marital vows “till death do we part?”
We’re told in the Bible to let our “yes be yes” and our “no be no.” We’re called as believers in Jesus Christ to be promise keepers. We are to remember that we made our vow not only to our spouse, but also to our God.
In the light of what we promised each other and God, what has happened to our commitment to live out the covenant promise “till death do we part?” Is our marriage vow only to be lived out “till love ends do we part?” Or is it “till hatred begins do we part?” How will they know we are Christians by the “love we show to one another” when our marriages show nothing much different?
Our Sacred Marriage Commitment
Author Dennis Rainey addresses this subject in his book One Home at a Time (published by Tyndale House). In it he writes:
“Marriage is not just a private experiment, littered with prenuptial agreements and an attitude of ‘Try me! If it doesn’t work, you can always bail out!’ Marriage is not some kind of social contract. It’s something you just ‘do’ for as long as you both shall ‘love.’ Marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman and their God for a lifetime. It is a public vow of how you will relate to your spouse as you form a new family unit.
“Any covenant —including the marriage covenant —is a binding, weighty obligation. In Proverbs 20:25, we read, ‘It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.‘ God says, ‘I hate divorce‘ (Malachi 2:16). The Lord didn’t stutter when He spoke these words. It is time for each of us to embrace and proclaim God’s sacred view of marriage, as well as His corresponding hatred for divorce.”
Authors Dennis and Barbara Rainey also challenge our view on marital commitment in their book, Moments Together for Couples. In the August 11th devotional page they write:
Resurrecting Meaning of Marriage Commitment
“We need to resurrect the true meaning of commitment. In this age of lite beer, lite syrup and lite salad dressing, it’s no wonder we exhibit lite commitment, too. But for a Christian, commitment is a sacred vow and promise to God. It’s two people who hang in there during the best and worst of times who won’t quit. It’s a husband and wife who find working through problems much more rewarding than walking out.
“We need to pass on to our children the real definition of commitment. We do this while continually exposing the lies that their peers and the media propagate. A person who does not understand his or her ultimate accountability to God has little reason to fulfill a vow to another human being.”
Joining Hands in this Mission
It is our prayer that ALL of us will join hands as a Christian community to play an active part in helping those who are considering marriage. This includes our children. They need to make sure they really understand the covenantal commitment they are heading into when they marry.
We pray that we will ALL do what we can to impress upon them to take more time and intentionality in preparing themselves. Encourage them to live out the covenantal commitment of marriage for the rest of their lives, as God intends.
If you are considering marriage, please do all you can to make sure the above challenge applies to how you approach marriage. Do not allow your marital commitment to imitate the world’s approach. God takes the commitment of marriage very seriously and so should we.
It is also our prayer for you that we will view the way in which we interact with our spouse as being done “as unto the Lord.” We pray that we will live out our marital covenantal commitment. We will show by our words and actions that we are God’s promise keepers. Ultimately, we hope we will communicate the Gospel with and without words to our spouse and those within our influence.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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