February 20, 2001
Marriage has its problems but when they come, the most popular solution these days is simply ending the relationship. Another one could be dumping it on your mother.
Consider this story. A certain mother has one daughter who is divorced. This woman had her son-in-law staying in her home rent-free while he sent support to his wife, the woman’s daughter. When he moved out, the daughter decided she wanted to move in, rent-free. Not only that, she wanted her mother to raise her two children, ages twelve and fourteen, “for the Lord.” This daughter also was in the middle of an affair with a married man. She disclosed he was the father of her oldest child.
Despite tangled stories like this one, people in our society continue to mock nuclear, two-parent families and the concept of marriage-for-life. Instead, the numbers of single parents are increasing. It is not too uncommon for a single person to adopt children. Two people of the same gender and living together also demand that privilege. It seems anything goes.
Marriage and family were not intended to be so fragmented and diverse. At the very first marriage ceremony, God joined one man and one woman. The Bible says, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
God promotes this unity throughout Scripture. He intended marriage as a sacred relationship of two people under His protection and authority. Human beings have trouble with this concept. From the beginning, we disobeyed God. Adultery and multiple marriages began right after the first family fell into sin. “Unnatural” relationships between men and men, human beings and animals, and other perversities were not far behind.
The problem is not that marriage is just one choice among many but that a biblical marriage seems impossible. It may begin well but after the glow dims and faults begin to appear, most couples separate, each looking for a mate that will forever remain shiny in their eyes.
These days, some men reason that one woman is not able to satisfy the appetites of one man. Some women, fed up with that attitude, drop men out of their lives altogether. What most do not realize is that marriage can last and be fulfilling — with help from the One who designed this relationship.
Withing the past six months, I’ve met couples who have been married to each other for sixty years or more. This seems an amazing feat but it must be noted that these are not perfect people. Their common and distinctive quality is that they made a commitment to each other and determined to make that commitment stick. They took their marriage vows seriously because they repeated them both to each other and before God.
My parents were a few days shy of their sixty-seventh anniversary when my dad died. Mom told me that for them, divorce was not the thing to do. They determined to not fight but settle their differences. They were happy together because they worked at it.
I did not follow their example. My first husband was an alcoholic and we had other problems. I thought the only way to resolve them was by escaping the marriage. Now I realize and admit this was a selfish attitude. Since then, I’ve learned that nothing is impossible with God. He has helped me through far greater difficulties than those I ran away from and proved His power to help me overcome my selfishness.
Still, I have to say that staying married is not just tough — it is impossible. In our humanness, when the going gets tough, we will bail out. We do not know how to resolve the issues or we do not want to. Yet God promises that He can “work in us, both to will and to do His good pleasure.”
Oh Lord Jesus, thank You for working to make us want a strong marriage, for giving us Your unconditional love for each other, and offering Your wisdom regarding any problems that threaten to separate us. While the challenges may be huge, so are You, our wonderful God.