Summary: A number of suggestions from scripture for keeping our marriages together
I have been pastoring for 27 years now, I have performed well over 50 weddings. Couples ranging in age from their teens to their seventies and I am have watched any number of marriages end. And some have happened because of some serious stuff. Wives fed up with physical abuse who have finally pulled the pin on their marriage, probably lucky that they didn’t pull the trigger. Husbands who have had to deal with wives who have committed adultery and vice versa. But in most cases those aren’t the reason, most marriages don’t end with a bang they end with a whimper. Henry David Thoreau once wrote “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” And too often marriages that began with passion fizzle into relationships of quiet desperation.
You often hear the phrase “A failed marriage.” But marriages don’t fail, people fail the marriage merely reveals the failure.
Often the words I hear aren’t “I hate them” instead I’m more apt to hear “I just don’t love them anymore” or “I guess I have just fallen out of love.” And often the other person will say “You know I just didn’t see this coming.”
What I want to say to the first person is “If you spent as much effort trying to stay in love with that person as you did when you were quote unquote “falling in love” maybe you won’t be falling out of love” And to the person who didn’t see it coming I would ask, were you still talking? When was the last time you were on a date? How was your sex life? I think it’s like when you’ve been driving your car but not taking the time to do the tune ups, you don’t realize how poorly it’s running because it’s efficiency and performance is gradually eroded.
I am trying to figure out some way that I can legally arrange for couples that I marry to sign a waver saying that if they get divorced that they will have pay me a five thousand dollars. I’m not sure but I think it would solve my retirement problems.
I’m getting a little tired of hearing about friends both inside the church and outside the church who are calling it quits in their marriages. I’m getting a little tired of not wanting to ask friends how their spouses are doing because I’m afraid of the answer. I’m getting a little tired of the good excuses and valid reasons for couples splitting up.
When I was a kid I knew of one my friends whose folks had split up. And it just seemed strange that David had a different last name then his folks. That was back in the day when parents had lots of kids, now it seems like kids have lots of parents.
You remember when people stayed together for the kids if for no other reason. Oh by the way that has proved to be a valid reason. Studies done by secular researchers at Stafford and Harvard into the effect of divorce on children have shown that it really messes kids up. Lower marks, higher drop out rates in school, higher crime rates, higher teen pregnancy rates, and higher teen suicide rates are the harvest that we are reaping in the children of broken homes. Kids aren’t nearly as tough as we thought they were, the secular world is finding out what God’s word has told us for thousands of years and that is that the best home for children is where there natural parents are.
Apparently that’s not enough British journalist Katharine Whitehorn stated “Americans, indeed, often seem to be so overwhelmed by their children that they’ll do anything for them except stay married to the co-producer.”
But that really isn’t a factor anymore for people because those are things that may happen tomorrow but right now I’m not happy and I want to be happy. And so now I struggle with how to lead a church where Marriage is highly valued, but where we are able to accept and love those who are no longer married. How to say on one hand, “God wants you to stay together” but on the other hand not reducing those who have been divorced to a second class Christianity.
My message today for those of you whose marriages have ended is that God loves you, and God forgives you. My message today for those of you who are still married is that God loves you and He wants your marriage to last.
But how? How do we make marriages last? Good question. But not an easy one. I think Helen Rowland had it right when she said Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it. This morning though we are going to try and figure out some things that will increase the chances of our marriages staying together and we might as well start by listening to what some others had to say on the subject.