Summary: Our marriages should reflect the kind of commitment Jesus demonstrated when He went to the cross. We have in Scripture, instructions to both the wives and the husbands, that we bring our marriages under the Lordship of Christ.
Col 3: 18-19
I remember standing before the congregation at Inverness Scotland. I announced the subject of my sermon. Today I will be preaching on marriage. I could see smiles and hear laughter coming from the congregation. I do not like to be laughed at, but I suppose on this day I should have expected it.
In response to the laughter, I told them, “I know what you are thinking. You are standing before us ready to speak about marriage and you yourself were married only eight days back in America. Now you have come to Scotland on your honeymoon and are speaking on marriage? Come back after you have been married ten or eleven years and then we will listen to what you have to say about marriage.”
In all fairness to the people who were laughing that day, there is a different dynamic to marriage now, than I experienced eight days following my wedding. A fourth standard child in school, a four month old puppy, and a child expected in two weeks all bring new challenges that a newly married husband does not face.
However, it is now eleven years since that day in Scotland when I spoke on marriage, just eight days after my wedding. A lot has changed in those eleven years, but my message on marriage, and the thoughts I want to share now, are basically as it was eleven years ago on the honeymoon. Why? Because the message is based on what the Bible says about marriage and that does not change.
Read Colossians 3: 18-19
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”
Marriage is a subject that is greatly influenced by cultural practices. In America we practice the pattern of Love marriages. In India you practice arranged marriages. I know that I must treat this subject carefully because I come from such a different cultural background than most of you who I am addressing.
To speak on marriage in a culture other than your own requires distinguishing between what in marriage is based on cultural heritage and what is Biblical mandate. There are unique practices in every country that are morally neutral.
Both of these practices I have mentioned, arranged marriages and love marriages can be found in the Bible. Ruth and Boaz had a love marriage. Isaac and Rebekah had an arranged marriage (However, after the arranged marriage the Scripture says Isaac loved Rebekah, Genesis 24:27).
In the Hebrew culture today men pay dowry to the girls family, as was given from Isaac’s family to Rebekah’s family. On my trip to Israel the Israelis made mention of a girl bringing so many Camels that will go to the girls family, for a good wife! Now compare that to the opposite practice in India where the Girls family gives gifts to the grooms.
There is also, I have found, no culture that has a monopoly on sin and total depravity of man. Many people in India question me about the high divorce rate in America. They are correct that the divorce rate in America is high and that this high divorce rate is an indication of a moral crises in America.
Before those from India become too puffed up about a lower divorce rate, they should remember the serious moral problems regarding marriage in India. When I found out that Christian leaders in the village were having two wives, I asked my Hindu language teacher how common this is. She became quiet. Why? Because her own father had two wives.
There are, as you know, serious problems too that arise over demands of more dowry after the marriage and abuses that occur if that demand is not met. I have sensed from conversations with many people that there are many cases at the hospitals that are because the hardness of hearts in the marriage
In the Old Testament when Moses gave a certificate of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1), it was because of the hardness of hearts (And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” Mark 10: 4-5 ).
People everywhere ignore God’s design for marriage. Today this hardness of heart is still with us. It manifests itself differently in different cultures, but the hardness of heart, sin and depravity of man crosses all cultural barriers.
What we must do, is find the clear teaching of scripture on the subject of marriage. Where the cultural practice in marriage does not contradict scripture, lets embrace that cultural practice. But, where the cultural practices in marriage contradict scripture, then let us use that as our opportunity to stand by scripture and be different from our society.