Summary: Excerpt from the book, Living Forgiven

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Second only to our relationship with God, marriage is the single most important relationship that we will ever have. People enter into a marriage with great joy and wonderful expectations of spending the rest of their days with the love of their life. Vows are exchanged, commitments are made, and the journey of learning how to make two distinctly different individuals become one begins.

*According to statistical evidence compiled by the Barna Research Group in 1999, on average, 25% of all marriages end in divorce.

What is even more disturbing is that believers are more likely to get divorced than non-believers!

*Among professing born-again Christians, 27% are currently, or have previously been, divorced, compared to 24% among adults who are not born-again Christians.

Rural areas tend to have fewer divorces compared with heavily-populated cities and their surrounding suburbs. Divorce is much less likely in the Northeast than anywhere else in the U.S. Only 19 percent of the residents of the Northeast have been divorced, compared with 26 percent in the West and 27 percent in the South and Midwest.

*Contrary to popular belief, the statistical evidence shows that, on the average, second marriages actually last four years less than the first marriage.

It has been said, and I think rightly so, that *Marriage at its best is a struggle. In order for a marriage to continue and grow strong it must flow in forgiveness.

During biblical times it was customary for fathers to select wives for their sons. The betrothal, or engagement period, could last up to two years. On the wedding day, the bride would bathe and put on richly embroidered white robes. She would then cover her face with a veil, adorn her head with a garland of flowers, and wait for the groom to come to take her away to the wedding ceremony.

The groom, surrounded by his closest friends, would leave his home and begin his journey to pick up his bride. As they proceeded through town, the procession got bigger and bigger as people from each house they passed would join with them-until finally they would arrive at the home of the bride’s parents. Once at her home, they would both proceed to the marriage supper, or wedding feast, which could be held at either the home of the groom’s father or of the groom.

This was a joyous procession, with the invited guests singing and dancing to the sound of musical instruments as they moved though the streets. Everyone gathered together for a huge banquet, the vows would be made, and the marriage consummated. Wedding festivities would sometimes continue for up to two weeks!

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry He attended a wedding in Cana in Galilee. The story is told in John 2:1-11: "Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ’They have no more wine’ ’Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ’My time has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ’Do whatever he tells you.’

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