Our pastor did a really wonderful sermon this week on Honoring Marriages - so some of the following is a bit of paraphrasing the sermon, but also adding my own thoughts.   It is fact that less couples are deciding to "tie the knot" these days.  More and more simply live together.  For those who do marry, divorce rates keep climbing.  Even within our churches.   The family unit is ever-changing....some would even say threatened.   So it begs the question.....

Is Marriage Relevant Today?

Obviously, on a personal level, I would say yes.  Being of the happily knotted portion.  But there was a time when this domesticated diva was well on her way to being, well, simply a diva.   I was definitely more Carrie Bradshaw (only with less expensive shoes) than say June Cleaver.  I had my own condo, was making money, traveling the world, staying up late and sleeping in.  If I was tired then, it was definitely of my own doing -- and I probably had lots of fun in the doing!   Not say, waking up at 1 am because my son had a bloody nose, than at 3 am with a baby, who was awakened by her coughing older sister.   Really, who in their right mind would actually choose that life.  Or more importantly, why?  Even our favourite Single and Fabulous New Yorker eventually opted to share the fabulous city condo, huge walk in closet with the man who initially left her at the altar. For what?  Happily Ever After?  Somehow, with Mr. Big, I doubt that very much (although since I have not seen the sequel, I have no idea).  So to quote our domesticated heroine....I can't help but wonder.......what draws us together, two by two anyway?   Why do we still seek the Happily Ever After?

To find that answer, I think we first need to distinguish between the worlds' idea of marriage, and God's design for marriage.   What are some reasons for getting married?  Love, security, companionship, children......money... sex.   What if your particular reason, fades away?   Then there are some who say, "I can have all that, without the ceremony."   Maybe you can.  Great, then what?   But I never wanted to "play house."   I should also add, it is not my intent to pass judgment on those who decide to live together.   I understand all the reasons why.  Many times it does work out okay.   I am merely stating, for me personally, it would have been too easy to fool myself that such an arrangement was satisfying.  That I could just sit back and wait for him to decide I was worthy of being wee wifey one day.   I couldn't enter that kind of commitment with a "let's see what happens" attitude.  If it went awry.....well, some things break your heart....others can touch right down to your soul.  You don't come back from those so easily.  And let's be honest ladies.   How many women do you know, who said yes to moving in, only in hopes of moving on up to wife?   When it does go wrong, it's not so easy to just walk away.   These days with shared mortgages, new furniture purchased for your love nest, maybe some loans.....who gets custody of the dog?   Often there are children involved too.  It's basically a divorce!   I actually had to help a girlfriend serve papers to a guy to get her washer and dryer back, after their 7 year live-in ended.     And worst part.....he married the very next girl.  Within 1 year!  Ouch....that's gonna leave a mark.   So what did you save yourself from?   True, hearts may have been  involved, lives linked, love present......but no covenant.   nay, nay.  

You see, that's the difference between the marriage the world seeks, and the divine institution that God created.   I am sure there are many happy, healthy marriages out there, in homes where God is not the foundation.  Many would say that marriage overall is good for the well being.  I would agree. However, I also believe temptation eventually comes knocking at everyone's marital door.  Do you have the tools to withstand it?   Do you have the tools to fix what might be broken if you don't resist?   God, in his design for marriage, has given us such tools.

Matthew  19:4-6
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator made them, 'male and female' and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God had joined together, let no one separate."

This tells us that God intended marriage as a sacred and valuable treasure.   For ourselves, for society, for our children; who need a stable and secure environment in which to grow.  It is rooted in Creation.  It is a Divine Institution. (all that credit goes to my Pastor.) On a personal level, that old argument about "not needing a man" that I almost had myself convinced of?   The world says, "that's right honey. buy yourself that right hand ring."  But God's word tells me differently.   Most important,  it is a Covenant:  a solemn agreement to engage in or refrain from a specified action.  That's actually a pretty powerful word.  Your vows are so much more than just pretty promises.  It's a binding contract.   I know those who have deep emotional scars due to the engaging of hearts and lives, with no covenant.   We have dismissed the standing before family, friends, and God as an old fashioned sentiment.  When in truth, it is the public declaration of your covenant with that person.  It binds you to one another on a deeper level than the ole "spit and shake". 

Love in a marriage is intended to be a reflection of God's love.   Love - not sex.   Because we are bombarded daily with the fact that the world doesn't need marriage to have sex .  We know what the Bible also says about keeping the marriage bed pure.  But I won't digress into that today.   So, we are told the Modern Confident Woman doesn't need marriage to be happy, fulfilled, financial security, home, or even children anymore.  (Although despite not needing marriage for any of the personal agenda items, or conceiving of children.....a whopping majority still insists it is best for children to be raised by 2 parents! Not sure about that one just yet.)  So yes, I guess with the world's view, marriage is pretty much obsolete.   I think we have to see with better eyes.

The enemy is always seeking to divide.  What better place to start than what should be the cornerstone of most societies:  the family unit.   With all the pressures and stresses on a marriage today, why open a door for him to enter into yours?  So many temptations out there today....so easy to find and hide. (yes, I see the irony that a big portion of that is due to social media.)  Is the foundation of your marriage strong enough to resist; or to mend what may be broken?  Because this is the thing.  If you believe in the sanctity of your marriage, than you probably also believe that it is worth fighting for.   You don't just stay out of fear, money, the kids, great sex, or just simply not knowing what else to do.  Will love be enough in the end?   With God as your foundation, you know where to find the tools to overcome temptation, and the means to strengthen your relationship so to be reconciled to one another.   You are not inclined to give up so easily.  What about infidelity you say?  The Bible does claim that as a foundation for divorce.  What about abusive relationships?  Clearly there are circumstances where divorce may be the only option.  Safety being one of them.  It may be unavoidable because one partner will not be reconciled.  This is not a judgment on those who have been divorced.  I come from divorce myself  (yeah, yeah...I get that it probably caused my reluctance towards marriage. )  But how about we start talking about marriage without mentioning divorce in the very next breath? 

What if we all started viewing it as the divine and sacred covenant it was intended to be?  What if we all raised one another up and prayed for God's hand in our marriages (and our homes).  What if we were all more aware and careful about the kinds of "doors" we opened?   I think that also would be a pretty good covenant.  But wait a minute?  Isn't that we all are doing at the marriage ceremony?  I vow to him, he vows to me...before God, before you? And your attendance is in support of those vows?    I mean, "you and me against the world" was great for Romeo and Juliet.  But look at how that ended?    What if we yanked it out of the rom-com style world we live in, and placed it back in its' divine position?   What kind of value do you think it would then hold?

There is one thing I do know.....nothing of value ever becomes obsolete.