Why is it so hard to have a long-term marriage in contemporary America? A lot of theories are suggested to explain this fact. Many marriages end in divorce. More and more, young people are choosing to live together instead of getting married. Many women have babies without any thought that they should also have a husband.
A lot of people in America are convinced that marriage just isn’t worth the trouble. It’s too difficult to make it work. You only have to get to the 2nd chapter in the whole Bible to find the story of how God created people and made them to be together in the union of marriage. I think that this is a strong indication of the importance of marriage. It also gives us clues about what marriage is supposed to be and why it often doesn’t work in America.
God created Eve from Adam’s rib because “it was not good for him to be alone.” So the first purpose of this union was to provide human companionship. Genesis says that “the man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife.” Married couples are supposed to cling to each other. And this clinging to each other produces all of the good things that a marriage can be: comfort, physical affection, children, spiritual encouragement, and a lot more.
Marriage in the Bible is a covenant. That means it is an agreement that a couple makes to God and to each other, a sacred oath to love, and cherish and persevere. “What God has joined together, let no one put asunder,” Jesus says.
Television shows and popular culture have given us the idea that marriage is supposed to make us breathlessly happy all the time. So when it fails to do that, and it will fail eventually, we want to give up on it. But often the real purpose and the real benefits of marriage come when the infatuation wears off. Then the real loving begins.
Yes, there are sometimes when a marriage becomes toxic and must be abandoned. But those times are a lot rarer than the divorce rate would suggest. Most of the time, marriages can grow and improve if couples are willing to make it work, to practice forgiveness and renewal, to apologize and reconcile.
The Bible also tells us that marriage is an image of our relationship with God. We are the dressed-up bride of Jesus waiting for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Maybe there is a connection between the decline of stable marriages and the decline of church attendance and belief in God. It certainly is true that Christians have an opportunity to bear witness to the power and love of God, through the power and love of a faithful marriage.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC