Summary: Jesus taught that marriage is a sacred and serious undertaking by any man and woman who want to unite as one under the protection and direction of the LORD. We tend to make it less than God's ideal for us.

What I am writing down here is the product of a message I originally presented to a group of men and women during a chapel service at our local rescue mission. The topic of marriage was probably not on their list of favorites for the fact that many of them had left abusive and toxic relationships with their spouses or significant others. Some had been the victims of physical and emotional abuse, and some women had their children with them in the audience because their father, stepfather, or latest boyfriend decided that these little ones made excellent punching bags or victims of perversions that do not need to be described here. Both sexes had representation of lives destroyed by alcohol, drugs, or instability of some kind in the family structure, and as a result were now in the midst of other sufferers and those who had made wrecks of themselves in one way or another. The common bond of all these heartbreaking situations was that few had heard of Jesus, or what He said about real marriage. God, in His Sovereignty, had brought these lost souls to a place where they needed to know that even if no one else loved or cared for them, He did and was ready to make all things new if they would come to Him for salvation and true rest from the burdens of life (Matthew 11:28-30).

Problems in relationships are not confined to economics, status, ethnicity, race, educational levels, or even with couples and individuals who claim to be religious or "spiritual", the preferred term in social circles these days. The sad fact is that even professing Christians who are devout followers of Jesus and His Word are entering the local courts to sign the papers that end a marital bond and all too often put the children in the middle of the conflict as to who gets custody, visitation rights, and to play the game of "favorite parent" against one another. My parents got divorced decades ago and are now both gone. By the grace of God, they both got remarried to the individuals whom I considered my other parents, so it worked out all right, but that scene is all too rare as the very idea of a family has become a conglomeration of whatever people decide to do concerning being together, and is often a mockery of the sacred foundation of what God intended for us. Divorce is as common as green grass in spring and seen by some as a right of passage, chalking up the wrecked relationship as a part of life's process and to move on, no matter if the offended party sheds tears of sorrow or regret as the other walks away. Deep down, we know better, but refuse to look at the original guide to a successful and loving marriage created by the LORD and taught by the Lord Jesus as we read in this continuing look at Mark's Gospel.

I have the right to discuss the seriousness and success of marriage not because I am a minister of the Gospel and have performed weddings for friends, relatives, and even some couples who had purchased their rings from me when I worked for a major retail jeweler years ago as a sales associate. That in itself was a ministry and a subject for another time, but I have been married for nearly forty years to my first and only girl friend whom I met while we were college students way back in the 1980's. I met her on February 22, 1982. I asked her to marry me six weeks later on April 6. We wed in August of 1983, had three children along the way (one of whom is in heaven) held several jobs, traveled several places, survived a major hurricane, and had rough times that tested us often to our limits. The issue of divorce was brought up a couple of times, but we remembered the vows we took and got everything back in line. We are now both dealing with varied health issues, but have broken down together and know where each other's medicine is located in case of an emergency. We finish each other's sentences mainly because I cannot hear all that well and I can figure out what she is going to say anyway. We are both a couple and a team, and our daughter sees us as models of a strong marriage that she wants to have with her husband, whom we consider as another son. I also need to tell you that our spiritual maturity and growth did not always play a role in how we approached some problems and decisions, so I do not even come close to being "Mr. Spiritual" in that regard, and I want to be honest with all of you as I proceed. I will say that God's love, patience, and reprimands have helped us both and we regret missed times of prayer and consultation with Him that could have saved us a lot of trouble.

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