I now pronounce you husband and wife. With one sentence, you enter a new life. Two imperfect people from different backgrounds, traditions, temperaments, inclinations, incomes, interests, and expectations welded together with three little words- husband and wife. For the rest of your life. But many of us never make it that far.
We save the dates, toast the engagements, buy the dresses, pin the boutonnieres, and smile over and over again in wedding after wedding. It seems like everyone is getting married. Then before you know it, it seems like everyone is getting divorced.
Over half of people who, when asked, would check the ‘Christian’ box end up checking the ‘divorced’ box as well. And I’m one of them. My husband is too. We both ran into our first marriages with a naïve lust for excitement. We wanted a certain kind of love for the rest of our life. Of course, that isn’t love at all. That certain thing we wanted to encapsulate and feed off of for the rest of our life was a feeling. Love isn’t a noun; it’s a verb.
You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. Jonah 4:10
This resembles my past patterns in love. Love was something I wanted to take from, not something I wanted to give myself to. I choked out my own life-giving vine. It sprang up with an unmatched fervor and then shriveled and withered and died because it needed nourishment. But I was too foolish, lazy, and selfish to figure out what it needed.
When someone dies, the first thing we ask is how they died. Because we suppose if we knew how they died, maybe then we could prevent the same circumstances in our life and we could live. It’s the same with divorce.
When a marriage dies, we immediately ask how it died. We might be so conditioned to accept death that we forget to ask how to live.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10
Did you know that God designed marriage to be a reflection of his relationship with us? He wanted the world to be able to look at the love between a husband and a wife and see Him.
Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church, the church he was humiliated, tortured, and crucified for. Wives are to submit to their husbands as we submit to the Lord for His heavenly, fatherly love and His protected promises. (Notice, God doesn’t command us to submit to poor examples of earthly fathers or to abuse because God is a good father and would never abuse us.)
Because God designed marriage to be a living example of his relationship with us (Ephesians 5), where else would satan like to discredit God? The institute of the Christian marriage. So our enemy whispers in our ears that marriage shouldn’t be that hard, that we deserve better, that we’re better off divorced, that we are too different, or that it’s too late to save our marriage. Sometimes those whispers turn into billboards, are blasted on the radio, or become roadblocks that make us give up the fight and turn around.
Friends, those are lies.
No one lies better than satan because he is the father of lies. He invented them as a way to distract us from what our Creator created for us. And when we fall for his lies? We are destroyed. And the enemy celebrates.
The couple that would have reminisced about buying their first tiny house together while combing one another’s silvery hair, “You remember the one with the sagging ceiling and shutters hanging by a thread that we couldn’t wait to move into?” They can’t reminisce about how far they’ve come since that first tiny house. Because they got divorced decades ago and their new spouses don’t even want pictures of their first family in their home anymore.
And the enemy smirks and chalks a new tally on his destructive count of broken hearts, foiled plans, and hopeless generations. He knows people will look at that couple and point, “See? They were Christians. And it didn’t work out.” Then he disassembles God’s plans with more untruths placed coincidentally and directly in our paths, “Maybe we aren’t meant to be with one person forever. Maybe I’ll just never get married. Maybe then I’ll be happy.”
And perhaps God weeps. Because He knows what He wanted for us. He wanted life. Living, breathing, sprouting, growing, blooming, harvesting, regenerating life. And when we believe lies, we choose death. We choose a dead end. We choose stagnant, rotting, piles of less than nothing. We might even choose contentment in death so much that it becomes our new comfort zone. The sliding doors close and the life we were promised leaves us standing on the platform alone. Why?
Because it’s easier for people to believe what others say about the Bible than to read it for themselves. Because we think it’s easier to get an attorney and suffer through a bit of mediation rather than admit we have work to do in our own hearts. Because we think it’s easier to try again with someone else rather than ride out a storm with the one you’re with. Because we think it’s easier to believe that God isn’t real and there is no hope rather than take up arms and fight for your God-given purpose in life. If you want a living, breathing marriage, stay tuned. I’m beginning a marriage series that will continue through the end of the year. Starting now.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33