Summary: People get married for lots of different reasons, but are they getting married for the right reason?

A June Wedding:

Marriage for the Right Reasons

Hosea 1:1-11

Why do people get married? A report in the British journal Health 24 lists the top six reasons people give for getting married:

6. It’s the right time. You have a solid and secure relationship and it feels like the logical next step.

5. To celebrate. Wanting family and friends to share in your happiness as a couple.

4. To start a family. The biological clock is ticking, and you want children.

3. It’s part of the culture. Marriage is what your religion believes in, or your culture accepts. It is a part of your core values.

2. To make a commitment. You’ve decided that you want to be together forever, knowing each other’s faults and failings.

1. You’re in love.

Ah! Love. That’s what marriage is all about isn’t it? But do we really understand what love in the sense of God-ordained love is in the context of marriage that makes love the right reason to get married? Sometimes I wonder.

What is this thing called love that motivates us to marry? The answer depends upon who you talk to. If we take the philosophy of the 70’s from the movie Love Story, love is “never having to say you’re sorry.” Another philosophy is that love is forever. Some would say love is something physical, others say it is something cognitive, some say it is both physical and cognitive. We use love to express emotions, feelings, and infatuation. We use the term, especially in the English language, so loosely, that we have lost its biblical meaning, the meaning that it is supposed to carry in marriage.

I want to carry us back to the Old Testament this morning for our June wedding. It is a picture of a wedding that by all our standards should never have happened. It was doomed from the beginning, and every pastor worth his/her weight in advice would have told the groom not to do it. The marriage? That of a man named Hosea to a woman named Gomer. The circumstances? Hosea was a preacher and Gomer was a prostitute. Yes, Hosea married a prostitute. What a scandal in the parsonage that must have created! Gossip in the community raged. Respect for this prophet of God dropped to zero—worse than when Jim Bakker was found to have had a relationship with a secretary. Can you hear the gossip now? “Did you hear the latest? Gomer got married. “You mean Gomer, the temple prostitute got married?” “Yep! Got herself a preacher. Can you believe it?” All we can say is that Hosea must have been some kind of a nut.

Actually, Hosea must have been one of the most patient, tender and loving of all the ancient prophets. His marriage became an opportunity to exhibit the great characteristics of obedience and faithfulness. Well, if that is true, then why in the world would Hosea marry this woman? Because God told him to! Listen:

Hosea 1:1-2

[1] The Lord gave these messages to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.

[2] When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, "Go and marry a prostitute, so some of her children will be born to you from other men. This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to me, openly committing adultery against the Lord by worshiping other gods."

Hosea obeyed God and married Gomer, and just like God said, Gomer had children that were not Hosea’s. She had three that we know of—Jezreel, so named for a battle the nation of Israel lost at the Valley of Jezreel; Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “not loved”; and Lo-ammi, meaning “not my people”. Great names for children, don’t you think? But Hosea took them and raised them. I wonder how many times Hosea must have bit his tongue until it bled as the scorn of the community swirled around him. But he stayed married because he loved her. No, not with the love that was rooted in emotion. I’m certain Hosea was angry, and hurt, and confused with all that happened. No this love was not rooted in emotion. It was rooted in something much deeper.

Gomer kept up her wandering ways, too. She left Hosea and returned to her prostitution. This time, though, she finds herself tainted goods even on the prostitution circuit. Perhaps she is an older woman in a young woman’s world. After three children, her beauty is not what it once was. The years of adultery have left her less than desirable, and the fact that she is married to a prophet only exacerbates the situation. Gomer ends up on the auction block as a slave. And what does Hosea do? He goes down to the slave market and buys her back for the paltry sum of $12.50. Stretch out your imagination and try to picture the love it took for Hosea to carry out God’s instructions.

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