Marriage is a wonderful blessing from God. It has allowed me to experience some of the best times of my life. It has allowed me to have the joy of bringing children into this world, experience intimacy with another person that brings me to an even closer relationship with God, and it has given me a companion to share all of my hopes, struggles, and praises with.
Marriage has also been one of the most difficult commitments I have ever made. It has brought to light many character flaws that I have, it has taught me how selfish I can be, and it has made me have to work hard and provide for a family rather than live comfortably for just myself.
One of the marriage vows that we take as couples is to stick it out regardless of the circumstance until one of us dies. I don’t think getting frustrated and killing your spouse counts… Unfortunately our culture has been breeding a generation of “me first, I want it resolved now” individuals who have a hard time with the “till death do us part” piece of the commitment. The term “till death” sounds nice when the couple is standing together on the alter, but when the rubber meets the road, keeping those wedding vows can be quite a challenge.
I suppose that on the wedding day it would sound kind of funny if the pastor says that these two shall remain married until one of them gets frustrated and leaves the relationship, or until financial trouble hits, or worse yet when one decides that the sex isn’t good enough and finds someone else to share themselves with on the internet or workplace. When we throw in the towel to pursue our selfish desires the Gospel is tarnished and the power of God is left to look sparse at best.
We want to think that marriage is going to be a blessing and from the moment we leave the alter it is going to be awesome love, great sex, and perfect kids. Well, here is a heads up… It won’t be. In marriage things will arise that cause conflict and pain and developing skills which allow a couple to overcome the trials is far more important than trying to completely avoid them.
Mat 19:4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, Mat 19:5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? Mat 19:6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
Understanding that we are joined together as one is the first step to being committed to keeping the marriage in tact. In my writing, “When Does One + One = One” I talk about how two people need to give up their own desires in order to achieve oneness. When the two who have become one are ever pulled apart there is a trauma that makes them both no longer the same. Each one carries a part of the other and the wound that is left will never fully heal. God understands that a couple committed to marriage need to become one and this is described here in Matthew. When my wife is hurting, I hurt with her. When I am hurting, my wife in turn hurts with me. When one of us experiences blessings and joy so does the other. When a young couple begins to realize (or any couple for that matter) that being one flesh is a good thing they will always do what is best for the relationship rather than for oneself.
I pray today that if you are married and going through tough times you look to the Lord to help you find that oneness in your spouse again. Look for those things that you fell in love with and bury your own desires at the foot of the cross. Jesus is there to meet our needs, and when we are filled with Him then we are able to again fill our spouse with the love they need, supplied by Christ. We will never have enough strength to make it on our own.
Till death do us part means exactly that. Until the other person dies. God has called us as married people to glorify Him in our marriage and in order to do this we must remain as one flesh in good times or bad. For better or worse, in sickness and health. Forever means forever.
Thank you Lord for the gift of marriage. Please strengthen my marriage and keep me looking to you for wisdom and encouragement so my wife will be blessed by the man you have created me to be.
(originally posted June 29, 2009)