Summary: Marriage was meant to stick. The rings that we wear on our fingers are not supposed to slip off no matter what lands on us.
August 20, 2000 Exodus 20:14
Some of you have accused me of telling really bad jokes over the course of the many times that you have heard me speak. But at least I don’t mess up as badly as one pastor did. [The young preacher was shocked to hear the well-known evangelist utter the words, "I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life in the arms of another man’s wife. Yes, I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life in the arms of another man’s wife." Then, following a pause, the evangelist added, "That woman was my mother." "I’ve got to use that!" the young pastor thought to himself. A few weeks later, as he was speaking to a civic group, the phrase leapt into his mind and he exclaimed, "I have spent some of the happiest days of my life in the arms of another man’s wife." Then, after another long pause, the young man muttered meekly, "But I can’t remember who she was."] At least I remember the punch line especially when not remembering the punch line can get you in an awful lot of trouble!
Did you know that commands #6 – thou shalt not kill - and #7 – thou shalt not commit adultery – have an awful lot to do with each other? Adultery has prompted murder in an awful lot of cases. Vera Czermak, of Prague, Czechoslovakia, discovered her husband was cheating on her. She contemplated both murder and suicide. Choosing the latter, she leaped out of a third-story window. She suffered only minor injuries, however, because she landed on her husband on the street below, killing him.
It was about nine o’clock at night. A man dashed into the doctor’s office in a highly nervous condition and explained to the doctor that he had been in a very bad state all day. The doctor, in his best professional manner, asked if anything had happened to shock or upset his nerves. "No," the man answered, "unless it was a letter I received this morning." He showed the doctor a letter which stated in part, "If you don’t stop running around with my wife, I’m going to blow your head off." The doctor answered, "Well, that’s a comparatively simple matter. Why don’t you just stop it?" The patient’s face fell as he said, "But, Doctor, the fool forgot to sign his name!"
“Returning from Sunday School one day, where the Ten Commandments had been the topic, a young boy asked his father, "Daddy, what does it mean when it says, ’Thou shalt not commit agriculture’?" [which was the son’s attempt to refer to the command against adultery.] There was hardly a beat between the question and [the father’s] smooth reply: "Son, that just means that you’re not supposed to plow the other man’s field," . . .” - Reader’s Digest, July 1979, p. 87
Several weeks ago, when Tammy and the kids were in Virginia, Dan and Stacey invited me to come over to their house for dinner on Sunday afternoon. I did two things on that day that I should not have attempted. I played against Dan in a game of foosball (which is table-top soccer) and a game of horse shoes. I had the bad habit of throwing the first ring short of the pin and then over-compensating and throwing the 2nd ring far beyond the pin. Dan beat me squarely in both games. I would highly recommend that if you ever get the chance to play against Dan, you demand that he give you a handicap before you ever begin. That’s the only way that you have a chance of winning.
I asked Dan to bring one of his horse shoes with him today because I think it is an accurate picture of what our topic today is all about. The goal of horse shoes is to get this horse shoe wrapped around a pole sticking up out of the ground and get it to stay there. It is a very difficult thing to do because of the fact that the shoe is open. Even if you get the shoe around the pole, there is no guarantee that it will stay there. It may fly on and off depending on where the momentum carries it. When you finally get that shoe to stay around the pole, it’s called a “ringer”. I have had many almost ringers in my horse shoe career, but few that have actually stuck.
Today we are dealing with Exodus 20:14 – Thou shalt not commit adultery. In every wedding that I have ever been a part of or witnessed, there has been some kind of ring exchange between the bride and groom. It has been said that “the wedding ring is that small piece of jewelry placed on the finger that cuts off your circulation.” It is supposed to be a constant reminder of the commitment that two persons have made to each other to be faithful to one another for the rest of their lives. Whether it is made of gold, titanium, or is just the bottle top off of a can of Coke, it is a symbol of a covenant. I am afraid though that marriages in America – marriages in Bridgeport, Clarksburg, Flemington, Lost Creek, Shinnston – are symbolized better today by a horse shoe than by a golden ring. Sometimes it sticks, and sometimes it doesn’t.