Summary: Though increasingly neglected in this day, marriage is given by God for the benefit of mankind. Undoubtedly we find pleasure in marriage, but there is so much more for all who will honour God through the marriage relationship.

“Drink water from your own cistern,

flowing water from your own well.

Should your springs be scattered abroad,

streams of water in the streets?

Let them be for yourself alone,

and not for strangers with you.

Let your fountain be blessed,

and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;

be intoxicated always in her love.”

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. This has become a special day for many people, especially for retailers. Men, in particular, are targeted to do something special for the woman who accepts them. As result of excellent marketing, some businesses generate a great deal of business as we approach this day. I would like to say that it is because at heart, so many of us are hopelessly romantic; however, I suspect it is more likely related to social expectations and excellent marketing.

Men, especially, are urged to show their love through giving gifts to that special woman, especially if she has consented to share her life with him. Flowers, chocolates, gift certificates for spa dates and candlelight dinners are means by which we have traditionally marked the day. In this present year, marketers are pushing Vermont Teddy Bears®, “Pajamagrams”® and “Hoodie-Footie”™ sleep wear, any of which are supposed to show that we really care, to say nothing of giving the illusion that we really put some thought into showing our devotion. Such advertising leaves me with the disquieting imagine of a woman pouting as he looks throws a box of chocolates on the floor while shouting, “If you really loved me, you’d get me a teddy bear!” Or, the image of a women with fiery eyes, throwing a vase of roses at her husband as she shouts, “You clod! What a girl really wants is something romantic, like a Hoodie-Footie!”

Showering our one true love with gifts to reveal our devotion is fine; but what if there has been a succession of “true loves” that mark the years? What if marriage is no longer honoured? Unquestionably, marriage is under assault in our day. Our contemporaries, including far too many fellow Christians, profess to “fall in” love, and just as easily appear to fall out of love. Few pastors stress that a marriage vow is made not just to one’s bride or groom, but rather the marriage vow is made before the Living God. Increasingly, those being married pledge to love one another as long as love lasts, tacitly admitting the impermanence of the act.

Increasingly, marriage is not seen as permanent. A startling number of evangelical believers have been married multiple times; or Christian couples adopted the attitude of the contemporary world and simply began living together. It is no longer thought strange that a couple should set up housekeeping with benefits; rather, this seems to have become the norm. If things work out, then the couple will make the arrangement permanent—or not.

Complicating the issue is a redefinition of marriage concomitant with a redefinition of family that is being imposed on society by well-intentioned, if woefully ignorant, politicians. Divorced from biblical moorings, these political savants want to show their commitment to the new social ideal of toleration. Knowing that an increasing number of people choose to live in relationships that defy biblical morality, they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and so they redefine what has defined civil society for millennia.

Consequently, it can no longer be denied that marriage is in crisis. I suggest that at the heart of the crisis lies a failure to recognise and/or to embrace Christian values. Though I cannot expect the world to adopt Christian values, I am astonished when the professed people of God not only eschew such biblical values, but appear genuinely ignorant of what pleases the True and Living God. If Christians ever hope to have an impact on society, we who name the Name of Christ must first accept His instruction so that our lives will be transformed. There is a desperate need to again define marriage and accept God’s ideal for our relationships together.

THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE — I sometimes fear that people are convinced that God is some sort of cosmic bully seeking ways to make our lives miserable. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. God longs to give us what is best, and His gifts are always for our good. This is the foundation for James’ statement that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” [JAMES 1:17].

One of the good gifts that God gave to mankind was the gift of marriage. Let’s go back to the institution of this covenant relationship. After we are given the overview of God’s creative activity, we receive a more detailed presentation that focuses on the apex of God’s creation—mankind.

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