Summary: Finding fulfillment in marriage.
Blessed To Be A Blessing!
The Key To Experiencing Fulfillment in Marriage
I have been thinking about marriage and the troubles that are plaguing so many marriages these days. I have felt compelled by the Lord to come before you and reassure you that you can experience fulfillment in marriage. I know that seems naïve to many people, absurd to others, but I am convinced that God has fully intended for us to experience fulfillment, even awe, in our marriages. It seems that every indicator is pointing in the opposite direction. I read an article in New Man Magazine, the magazine produced by Promise Keepers, about a very disturbing new business in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Let me read an excerpt from the article.
Divorced couples in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can take advantage of a new business in town. The company is called Freedom Rings: Jewelry for the Divorced. Founded by jeweler and divorcee Lynn Peters, the company makes custom jewelry out of wedding rings. Each customer at Freedom Rings pays a fee, and the ring-smashing ceremony begins--complete with champagne and music. Just before the smashing the M.C. says, 'We will now release any remaining ties to your past by transforming your ring--which represents the past--into a token of your new beginning. Now take the hammer. Stop for a moment to consider the transformation that is about to begin your new life. Ready? With this swing let freedom ring!' She then uses a four-pound sledgehammer to whack her emblem of love and fidelity into a shapeless piece of metal. And the ceremony ends. The fact that women are pounding their wedding rings into pendants and men are grinding theirs into golf ball markers doesn't surprise me. We've all heard the divorce statistics. (Brian Peterson, New Man, October, 1994, p. 8)
The cavalier, nonchalant approach to the tragedy of divorce that has swept our nation and is choking the life out of our community is reaping far more damaging long-term consequences than any of us can even begin to imagine. It is not simply our homes which are being ripped apart and lives forever affected, our nation is being slowly but surely stripped of its strength and staying power. We are not the first nation that has watched itself rot and die from within. Sociologist and historian Carl Zimmerman, in his 1947 book Family and Civilization, recorded his observations as he compared the disintegration of various cultures with the parallel decline of family life in those cultures. The slow erosion of the nation could be directly tied to the slow erosion of family life in each of the cases Dr. Zimmerman studied. Eight specific patterns of domestic behavior typified the downward spiral of each culture Zimmerman studied.
*Marriage loses its sacredness...is frequently broken by divorce.
*Traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost.
*Feminist movements abound.
*Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
*Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion.
*Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept family responsibilities.
*Growing desire for and acceptance of adultery.
*Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes.
Each of these eight demonic characteristics can and will be addressed and corrected by men and women who understand and commit their lives to living out God's intended purposes for the holy union called marriage.
What we are talking about today is not unfamiliar to any of us. There is not one person here who has not been affected by divorce in the past. It could be your own divorce, the divorce of a parent, brother, sister, or friend, but I feel safe in saying that everyone reading this sermon has been impacted by the tragedy of divorce.
Many of you know far better than I do how powerful the impact of divorce is upon those who have gone through that tragedy. It would be painful enough if the pain only lasted until the divorce was made "final" by the courts, but we all know that "final" is not a word that can be used to describe the pain caused by divorce. It would be devastating enough if only the husband and wife were affected. We all know that is not the case.
I was intrigued by a study that was just released this past week chronicling the long-term effects of divorce on children. Judith Wallerstein, who is the founder of The Center for the Family in Transition in Marion County, California, has just released a twenty-five year study that she has conducted with 60 families who experienced divorce in the 1970's. These 60 families include 130 children. Her findings are based on 26 adults who are now between the ages of 27 and 32, who were between the ages of 2 1/2 and 6 at the time of their parent's divorce. About one half of the children of divorce in our country today fall into this age group. Just so none of us will jump to any erroneous conclusions, it is important to know that every single one of these Northern California families were middle-class families before the divorce took place.