Sermons

Summary: A look at Christian responsiblities in marriage

THE VASE SHATTERED AGAINST THE WALL AND FELL TO THE FLOOR, AND WITH IT FELL THE HOPES AND DREAMS THAT THEY HAD BROUGHT INTO THEIR MARRIAGE. EVERYONE HAD SAID THAT THEY WERE A PERFECT COUPLE AND THAT THEIRS WOULD BE A PERFECT MARRIAGE, AND EVERYONE WAS WRONG.

SCENES LIKE THAT HAPPEN EVERYDAY THROUGHOUT CANADA, IT MIGHT BE A THROWN PLATE, OR A THROWN BOOK, OR MAYBE A THROWN WORD. BUT EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY IN THIS COUNTRY A MARRIAGE COLLAPSES. WHY? WHY DO MARRIAGES FAIL? GOOD QUESTION. WHY DO MARRIAGES FAIL?

IF WE CONSIDER THE QUESTION IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT STATISTICS TELL US THAT FOUR OUT OF TEN FIRST TIME MARRIAGES FAIL. THAT EIGHT OUT OF TEN SECOND TIME MARRIAGES FAIL AND THAT NINE OUT OF TEN TEENAGE MARRIAGES FAIL THE QUESTION BECOMES EVEN MORE PRESSING.

HAVE YOU STOPPED ASKING OLD FRIENDS HOW THEIR SPOUSES ARE? THAT HAD BECOME STANDARD OPERATING POLICY FOR ME SINCE WE CAME BACK FROM AUSTRALIA. WHEN I RUN INTO FRIENDS I HAVEN’T SEEN FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS I MIGHT ASK HOW THEY ARE, OR HOW THEIR JOB IS, OR WHERE THEY ARE LIVING, BUT I HAVE EMBARRASSED MYSELF ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER THEN TO ASK HOW THEIR HUSBAND OR WIFE IS. I HAVE HEARD ENOUGH OF "WE’RE NOT TOGETHER ANYMORE" AND "WE SPLIT UP LAST YEAR." OR "WE’RE GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE." IF THEY WANT TO TELL ME THAT’S FINE BUT I’M NOT ASKING.

THE SCARY THING IS THOUGH THAT NOT ALL FAILED MARRIAGES END UP IN DIVORCE COURT. IF YOU THOUGHT ABOUT IT I’M SURE THAT YOU COULD ALL NAME COUPLES WHO ARE STILL TOGETHER BECAUSE OF THE KIDS, OR BECAUSE OF THE CHURCH OR JUST BECAUSE OF PRIDE. THEY OCCUPY THE SAME HOUSE, SHARE THE SAME TABLE AND PROBABLY THE SAME BED BUT THEIR MARRIAGE IS A LONG WAY FROM BEING SUCCESSFUL. KIND OF LIKE THAT MAN WHO SAID THAT HE HAD BEEN HAPPILY MARRIED FOR FIVE YEARS, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1989 AND 1992.

AND IF WE ADD THOSE COUPLES WHO ARE LIVING A LIE IN THEIR MARRIAGE TO THE MARRIAGES WHICH END WITH A DECREE ABSOLUTE THEN WE DISCOVER THAT WELL OVER FIFTY PERCENT OF MARRIAGES CAN BE CONSIDERED AS NOTHING LESS THEN FAILURES.

COUPLE OF QUESTIONS THEN. WOULD YOU LET A DR. PERFORM SURGERY WHO HAD A 50% FAILURE RATE? WOULD YOU FLY IN A PLANE WHICH CRASHED 50% OF THE TIME? WOULD YOU HIRE A LAWYER WHO LOST 50% OF HIS CASES? OF COURSE YOU WOULDN’T YOU’D HAVE TO BE A COMPLETE IDIOT. AND SO I ASK MYSELF, "SELF IF OVER FIFTY PERCENT OF MARRIAGES ARE DOOMED TO FAILURE THEN WHY IS MARRIAGE STILL SUCH A BIG THING?" OR AS ONE MAN SAID "MARRIAGE IS A GREAT INSTITUTION BUT WHO WANTS TO BE IN AN INSTITUTION?"

THE NEXT QUESTION, IS THIS. "IF I CAN FIGURE OUT WHY MARRIAGES FAIL, WILL I BE ABLE TO PREVENT MARRIAGES FROM FAILING?" IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT THE ONE THING WE LEARN FROM HISTORY IS THAT WE DON’T LEARN FROM HISTORY. AND IF THAT IS THE CASE IT IS PROBABLY SAFE TO SAY "THAT THE ONE THING WE LEARN FROM MARRIAGE COUNSELLING IS THAT WE DON’T LEARN FROM MARRIAGE COUNSELLING." WE ARE TOLD THAT THERE ARE SEVEN PROBLEM AREAS IN MARRIAGE AND THEY ARE, SEX, CHILDREN, SOCIAL, RELIGION, FINANCIAL, IN-LAWS AND FRIENDS.

I WOULD GUESS THAT ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS STEM FROM ONE COMMON ROOT, AND THAT IS THAT WHEN WE GET MARRIED WE REALLY DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER. JAMES DOBSON MADE THIS STATEMENT, "YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THE REALITY OF TWO IMPERFECT PEOPLE LIVING TOGETHER. THEY TRAVEL FROM ROMANCE TO RESPONSIBILITY OVERNIGHT AND ARE NOT ADEQUATELY PREPARED TO HANDLE THE ADJUSTMENT."

NOW YOU WOULDN’T LET A PERSON WHOSE JUDGEMENT WAS IMPAIRED BY ALCOHOL OR DRUGS TO ENTER INTO A BINDING CONTRACT. AND INDEED THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM OF OUR COUNTRY WOULD HAVE TROUBLE RECOGNISING A CONTRACT ENTERED INTO UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES. AND YET WE LET YOUNG PEOPLE ENTER INTO A LIFE LONG CONTRACT WELL THEIR JUDGEMENT IS IMPAIRED BY A FAR GREATER INTOXICANT, INFATUATION.

OVER THE PAST FIFTEEN YEARS OF MINISTRY I HAVE DONE PRE-MARRIAGE COUNSELLING WITH OVER FORTY COUPLES AND I HAVE COME TO ONE INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION. MOST OF THOSE PEOPLE WERE NOT IN THEIR RIGHT MIND. IT DIDN’T MATTER HOW POOR, BROKE OR DESTITUTE THEY WERE, THEY BEHAVED LIKE THEY HAD THE WORLD BY THE TAIL. IF YOU TRIED TO TALK BUDGETS WITH THEM AND EXPLAIN THAT FINANCES ARE THE PRIMARY REASON FOR MARRIAGE BREAK UPS WHY THEY’D LOOK AT YOU LIKE YOU WERE CRAZY. "WHY PASTOR, MONEY MIGHT COME BETWEEN OTHER COUPLES BUT IT WOULD NEVER COME BETWEEN US."

IF ONE OR THE OTHER HAS A FAMILY THAT MAKES THE ADAMS FAMILY LOOK LIKE THE CLEAVERS, "SO WHAT, WE’LL JUST LOVE THEM ANYWAYS."

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