Marriage Takes 3
What use to be uncommon and unspoken has become common. Divorce, it has reached epidemic proportions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ratio of marriages to divorces is 2 to 1.
While a husband and wife may vow to love one another in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, and for better and worse, the reality is that many individuals only stick around during times of wealth, health, and happiness.
You may remember that in times past families had many children. You may even be one of 4 or more siblings. Today children oftentimes have many parents. There is the Daddy that was here, and the Daddy that is here, and the Daddy that will be here when this one decides to go on.
Sadly, the concept of commitment has been lost in our “disposable” and “instant gratification” world. There is no doubt that the tentacles of divorce reach deeply inside most—if not all—church families. And those tentacles have caused many problems throughout the body of Christ. While we don’t talk about it much for fear we may offend some, this topic desperately needs to be addressed in order to stem the epidemic.
Here is what I want my sons to know about divorce. As I speak to you today, listen in on what I want them to know and to understand. These are things we have discussed and things that we have tried to teach.
A good marriage is one of the richest blessings you will ever know. It is an institution that was formed by God.
Genesis 2: 22-24: “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
While we pray that you are able to experience this one day, we want each one of you to realize that you do not have to be married or be a parent to serve God faithfully. Consider the biblical examples of faithful individuals who were single or barren/ childless and still served the Lord. (Paul, Dorcas) They were faithful to God even though they were not married.
There are many questions that you need to ask of yourself and of this person to whom you want to marry. As you begin to date and to go out with potential mates…
Look for someone who will help you go to heaven. If they are not spiritual, interested in God and His church, then they are not the person for you.
Dating is not a game. Dating is not a social outlet. If you want a social group to be with, go out with a group, join an activity, play on a sports team. Dating is serious business.
There’s more to it than just good looks. I want you to find someone that you are attracted to, but there is more to consider as you take this person into your confidence. Physical beauty if fleeting at best, and the heart is what will last.
If you reach the point to which you are engaged to someone, remember that engaged is not married. You need to stick to your limits, to your rules of contact. If you are not married, do not act like you are married. .
Song of Solomon 3:5 “do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”
Sons, as the male, you are to be the spiritual leader of your household. Begin that leadership while dating. Set the example and live a life devoted to Christ.
Sons, believe it or not, but your mother and I have been praying for your future spouses (and even their parents!) since before you were born. This topic is so crucial that we believe the time to start teaching you about these things is not when you are a teenager, but when you were still toddlers.
Aside from your decision to become a Christian and your relationship with God, there is nothing more important on this planet than your choices in these matters. The person that you choose to be your mate will either help or hinder your journey to heaven.
Our prayer is that your mate will be a strong Christian who can help you in your spiritual journey. We hope that as your grow and mature you will select someone with whom to spend your life who has similar values and priorities. God needs to be first in both of your lives.
Make no mistake about it, good marriage takes a great deal of work. You won’t receive a “how-to” book along with your marriage certificate. This is one reason it is so important to keep your marriage God-centered. The relationship you see daily between your mother and I did not happen overnight. We have been together through good years and bad. We have had to learn how to communicate effectively with one another, how to air our differences, how to compromise, and how to let our words be reflected in our actions.
With each happy memory and each trial, our relationship has deepened and grown. However, even after being married as long as we have, we still have to invest time and energy into our marriage. That is why we try to regularly have “dates” without any children present—to reconnect, rekindle, and grow our own relationship.
While you are a big part of our family, you will not be with us forever. However, when you leave, we (your mother and I) have to know each other, and to connect with one another.
Your mother and I have a rule that has been in place since the beginning. We never joke about divorce or use that concept as an option for our lives. We made this pledge to one another very early in our marriage, and it has been comforting during time of trial. The Bible is clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).
Never forget that God joins you together with your mate (Matthew 19:6), and His original intention was that man and woman remain married until death.
Mark 10:2-12 READ
Matthew 19: 8-9 READ
Jesus explains that while divorces were permitted because of the hardness of their hearts, “from the beginning it was not so.”
Keep your marriage intact and avoid divorce. Invest time and energy in one another. If you feel things are spiraling out of control, talk to your parents, preacher, shepherds, or godly friends.
Don’t confide problems to a friend of the opposite sex, as that will always compound the problem. Find a happily married, faithful couple with whom you can spend time and glean wisdom. Take time to find activities that both you and your spouse’s enjoy, and do those. Be willing to compromise. And never take your spouse for granted.
The Bible is the best source of how men are to love their wives.
Ephesians 5:25, 33 Read.
The Bible is the best source of how women are to respect their husbands.
Ephesians 5:22-23, 33 again. Read.
In Matthew 19, Jesus outlines the only allowance for divorce and remarriage—sexual immorality (verse 9). READ AGAIN.
That’s it. Unless your spouse dies, marriage has only one way out. Divorce and remarriage is not allowed simply for irreconcilable differences or because one partner is no longer happy. Many people have tried to manipulate this passage to find exceptions or to make loopholes. In fact, many men with advanced degrees have desperately tried to argue that they possess a “new found wisdom” about what this Scripture actually means. But as we have taught you from childhood, you don’t need advanced degrees to understand the important matters of the Bible. God is able to effectively communicate His plan on marriage and divorce.
Never change your views on biblical matters simply because it has become personal. Remember, God is immutable (Malachi 3:6)—He and His Word do not change.
It is usually the case that those trying to conjure up “exceptions” to Jesus’ teaching on marriage have personal stakes involved. For instance, maybe their children, other relatives, or friends have divorced for reasons other than sexual immorality, and they want to find a way for them to remarry. But the Scriptures are clear.
Many try to offer excuses to justify divorce and remarriage such as, “One part was not baptized at the point of marriage,” or “Children are involved,” or “The original intent was not for a biblically permanent marriage.” They use mental gymnastics to find loopholes between Matthew 19 and I Corinthians 7:10-13. (READ)
Remember, these commands were written to believers and unbelievers, thus baptism does not alter an adulterous marriage. Re-Read I Corinthians 7:10-13.
The decision to marry is important and should not be entered into lightly, or because of temporal lust. Your mother and I agree that rather than jumping through hoops and rearranging the original intent or looking for a “way out” years later, your time would be better invested in creating, building, and maintaining a healthy marriage that includes God.
This is why trust is so vital in a marriage. Go the extra mile and give your spouse information as to where you will be—don’t leave them wondering. Post a copy of your wedding picture or vows where you can see it often. Keep that golden band on your finger as a constant reminder.
Remember your parent’s favorite verse, a verse that we try to live by every day. This verse was read at our wedding.
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Finally, here is a poem that says it all.
Marriage Takes 3 (author unknown)
I once thought marriage took Just two to make a go,
But now I am convinced It takes the Lord also.
And not one marriage fails Where Christ is asked to enter,
As lovers come together With Jesus at the center.
But marriage seldom thrives, And homes are incomplete,
Till He is welcomed there To help avoid defeat.
In homes where Christ is first, It’s obvious to see,
Those unions really work, For marriage still takes three.
Marriage is for life. Take your time now and later, your efforts will pay off.
Take time during the marriage, and you will be blessed.
Jesus’ way is the way we all need to live our lives. He knows best.
Adapted from an article in Think Magazine January 2009 by Brad Harrub. All words and ideas are his. Editing was done to fit it into this post.