I cannot believe it has been nearly five months since I have published a blog! Recently the Lord has really been working on me, convicting me to spend more time writing. Today I am beginning a journey into the world of marriage. Writing from my personal marriage, study, and observations. I pray you will be edified, encouraged, and challenged by reading this new endeavor:
Over the last several months I have been overwhelmed with the pace of life. The Lord has thrown me into the pool of pastoral ministry and said, “Swim!” The last 14 months could best be described as “drinking from a fire hose.” As a result, my ability to sit down and flesh out my thoughts in writing has taken a back seat. However, recently I have been burdened to write. I’ve even been convicted of poor time management; that conviction has resulted in a concerted effort to ensure that time is “made” available to write. As this burden has increased, one particular area has pricked my spirit more than any other—MARRIAGE.
Currently, I am providing marriage counseling for a number of couples and pre-marital counseling for another. It is an interesting place to be…looking at a potentially sinking marriage and then looking at one that is about to embark on a joyfully anticipated life-long voyage…both in the same day! Walking through difficult times with some couples I am privileged to pastor, my heart is broken over the state of marriage in American culture, particularly in the church! Marriages end every day, many of which are Christian marriages. Why is this so? Why is marriage coming under attack? Why?
The answer to this question, “Why?” is more complex than I am prepared to address in depth. Yet, it must be addressed. The underlying reason for failed marriages rests in the fact that people have no understanding of what marriage actually is. Marriage is not intended to be a trial-run at a life partnership (many folks today are actually “playing house” to see if they will work together in a marriage), neither is marriage simply something you do when you grow up.
Marriage is a covenantal agreement between one man and one woman for life. When you stand in front of the preacher in your suspenders and bow tie (as the trend seems to be amongst millennials), you share vows that sound something like this, “I take you to be my spouse, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Pay close attention to the last clause, “…until death do us part.” That last clause is an indicator of the intent of the covenantal agreement of marriage—LIFE. In this regard, the callous joke, “I got a life sentence,” rings true. When you say the familiar and famous words, “I do,” you have just committed, before God and each other, to uphold the covenant of marriage until one of you dies.
In today’s world, the importance of this covenantal relationship is lost. While it is true the divorce rate is on the decline, so is the marriage rate (decline in marriage rate per 1000 population). The reason for this is that more and more millenials are cohabitating (The Rise of Cohabitation). They are “playing house” to see if it will work. If things fall apart, there is nothing lost because there was never a formal commitment. There is a glaring reality here, if you do not have “skin in the game,” you are not inclined to make it work. Those who say, “I do,” and take their vows before God and each other seriously are more likely to work through the difficult times.
Perhaps as you are reading this, your marriage is in trouble. Know this, no one ever said it would be easy. The reason the institution of marriage is becoming endangered is because the foundation of marriage is lacking. God ordained marriage, He designed it perfectly, and He has expectations of how it is to work. In fact, when God created Eve for Adam, He had exhausted all other options for a helper. That is to say, God specifically designed the wife to compliment the husband. This relationship is not ever going to be perfect because sin has distorted God’s intended reality; but, the relationship is still good. It is good because God intended it to be good; when he looked at the things he had made, he said they were good. Certainly, the marriage covenant was created by God and necessarily, therefore, intended to be very good. Aren’t things that are good worth fighting for?
What does this require? Quite honestly, it requires a lot more than what can be said here, but let’s start with this: Marriage requires a godly man to lead. I believe the reason marriages are floundering today is because there is a misunderstanding of biblical masculinity. This misunderstanding results in an absence of biblical/godly man-hood. First, a godly man is one who does not hesitate, even through all his imperfections, to let his wife know she is loved. Second, marriage requires a godly wife, i.e., a wife who respects and honors her husband even when he does not deserve it, and who knows how to let her husband know he is respected and valued as a man.
Understanding that simple paragraph or two cannot completely or effectively address the implications of what I just wrote, I am going to spend the next several weeks working on more clearly articulating these thoughts. The first point to consider will be covenant, followed by biblical manhood, followed by biblical womanhood, and closing with what a God-centered marriage looks like. I am aware that in doing this, I will be ripping scabs off my own marriage and exposing weaknesses on my part as a husband. During this journey, I hope we might learn together from my weaknesses and failures and perhaps help to address some of yours along the way.
My desire is to produce something the Lord can use to save, strengthen, and preserve struggling marriages. For HIS glory!