Summary: 3rd in a 3 part series on Marriage.
PULLING THE RABBIT FROM THE HAT
(Making Marriage Last a Lifetime)
INTRODUCTION: (Video Clip - The Family Man - Chap. 8-57:33 - 9:1:00:04 - 2:31)
There is probably not a couple here that can’t identify with Jack and Kate in that clip. All of us have had a “few surprises thrown at us” in our marriages. Whether it’s “surprise we’re pregnant” or an unexpected illness or career change or worse - marriage brings both good times and bad. How do marriages survive those surprises? The change, disappointments, mistakes? How do we cope with the fact that “sometimes the dance is slow and sweet and some days we’re bouncing off the wall?” “How do you look at it?” And more importantly, how do we pull this proverbial rabbit from the hat and get our marriages to become “great success stories?” The truth is, many of them aren’t.
Over 4 million Americans will get married this year. Most of them will expect to keep their commitment for a lifetime. But figures now show that over 2 million of them will be divorced before they reach the 15th year. Many of them will say what one girl did, "I wanted a good deal, I got a raw deal, now I want a new deal." And I believe that one of the keys to a fulfilling marriage, lies in this area of our promises. The vows we gave when we were married were serious words of commitment to our spouse and they were very serious to God. But is it realistic to think that we can keep love and our marriages fresh for a lifetime? Our drama certainly pointed out the fact that there is a lot of change from the wedding day that takes place. So is it realistic to vow to stay with one person for as long as we both shall live? This morning I want us to consider that it’s not only right but essential to do so for 3 reasons:
I. GOD DESIGNED MARRIAGE TO LAST:
First, it is essential because God designed marriage to last. Understand that the source of our commitment to each other as husband and wife is not from man but God. In Matthew 19 Jesus is accosted by some religious leaders. I say accosted because the Scripture tells us that they came to test him. And what was their test? How long did Jesus think a married couple should stay together? You see the religious leaders wanted Him to make a major mistake in public so that His popularity would nose dive. So they asked Him a complex question that was certain to alienate some of the audience no matter how He answered. And so we read in Vs:3- “Some Pharisees came to interview him and tried to trap him into saying something that would ruin him. ‘Do you permit divorce?’ they asked.”
Jesus answered their question by taking them back to the source of marriage. He simply quoted from the first book of the Bible. Vss:4-6 of our text: “Don’t you read the Scriptures?” He replied. “In them it is written that at the beginning God created man and woman, and that a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife. The two shall become one - no longer two, but one! And no man may separate what God has joined together.”
In fact Jesus here is quoting Genesis 2:24 which is repeated 4 times in the Bible. It’s as if God wants to impress this indelibly on our minds, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife. (NIV) Notice there’s no escape clause there. That’s because in God’s will, the length of our commitment in marriage, is for life. From the beginning God set forth the ideal - one man for one woman for one lifetime. Jesus said, "That’s the way it was meant to be from the beginning.” There is to be a definite decision to leave parents. That doesn’t mean that parents are to be loved any less but it does mean that the new relationship has a deeper priority. That’s the point Jesus was making in Matt.19 by telling the Pharisee’s "Divorce was never a part of God’s original plan." Marriage as created by God is to be based on steadfastness that will attempt to make the most out of a difficult life, two people clinging to each other in a relationship no matter what.
Many couples in their weddings use the "unity candle ceremony" where they take two individual candles and light one main candle. Then they blow out the individual ones, just leaving the main one burning. That symbolizes what Jesus also said they are "..no longer two, but one." Now, how are we one? Well that oneness certainly refers to the physical joining that occurs on your wedding night but it is also a process as we adjust, as we learn about each other. We become one over the years. Couples that have been married for a long time begin to think alike, act alike and even some will say they start to look alike. A preacher friend of mine tells about the time one of the couples in their church celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Someone said to the groom of 50 years, "50 years is a long time with one woman." And with a twinkle in his eye he replied, "Yep, but not nearly as long as it would of been without her." “... a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife. The two shall become one - no longer two, but one! And no man may separate what God has joined together." That’s not our idea but God’s ideal. He’s the source of our commitment. He designed marriage to last.