Let’s Rethink ... Getting married
Because marriage is based on the promises of two people to each other, it is a covenantal relationship and not a contract. The stability of the marriage does not depend on any condition except that each has pledged themselves to the other, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish and obey until death us do part …” And the reason for this is - that it is “according to God’s holy law”.
The fact that many people may not accept God’s authority over other parts of their life does not diminish the blessing which comes from a willing life-long commitment in marriage. Even at a secular level, there is a huge advantage to any society if it is built upon the stability of life-long commitment, love, service and discipline. Paradoxically, that seems to be an attraction of Islam to people who are desperately searching for personal security.
Of course, Christians believe the Scripture which says that marriage is the best visible demonstration of the relationship between Christ and His church. However imperfect, there is still no better illustration.
So, what should the church be doing?
Firstly, we need to encourage marriage at every level. Those who are married need to continue to reinvest in their relationship. Christian marriages need to revisit both the scriptural basis of their identity as a couple and the practical opportunities to enhance their mutual love.
But maybe we need to be even more practical. A young couple who are committed to each other should be encouraged to marry. Weddings do not have to be fairy tales because the rest of their lives will be lived in reality! But is the huge expense necessary?
Let’s encourage the “simple wedding”. Family, friends and flowers, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue - is quite enough finery, particularly for two graduates who may already have a £60,000 student loan debt around their necks. It should be possible to borrow one of the 20 million dresses lurking in people’s wardrobes. A reception in the church can be wonderful, especially if it is a buffet so that friends and family can move around and enjoy time together - the sit down wedding breakfast often locks guests into conversation with four people they don’t know and with whom they may have nothing in common!
What matters is not so much ‘getting married’ as being married. The promise of life-long love and the commitment to respond in love is so precious. Not everybody will have that opportunity; but those who do need to know that it is a gift of God. Let’s be very positive about marriage. Let’s encourage positive relationships which will lead to marriage. Let’s abandon ‘look up, hook up, shack up and break up’ because it is a cruel deception. God has designed something much better.
© Dr Paul Adams 2012