Marriage (or Not) for Others
Our church is mourning the loss of a wonderful man. Among his many admirable traits was his devotion to his wife of 70 years. It is impossible to reduce a life to one concept or tell a complete story in a blog post, but I want to emphasize this trait for a moment and draw what may be a surprising conclusion from the example they set. They established a marriage, whether using these words or not, that existed for others. It is easy to see that a person should not enter a marriage with the idea of “what's in it for me?” Jerry Maguire would argue that marriage is where two people “complete each other” but we know that it is only God who can fill the void in each of us. But we might be enticed to narrow our focus of the blessing of a marriage to the two people standing at the altar. It is more helpful to realize that the ultimate design of marriage is to equip a man and a woman to more fully serve God together than they would have been able to separately
This will play out in various ways, perhaps as many as the number of people engaged in marriage. One of the ways it played out for this family was taking in a young baby when his mother said she could not raise him. This couple did not hesitate, but instead provided a loving Christian home for that child, who is now their son.
Contrast that with the couple who marries due to mutual perceived advantage, has children based upon evaluation of future prospects, and always holds divorce as a possible solution to difficulties. What if we married to further God's kingdom? What if our decision to have children was based on something other than financial factors? What if we determined to allow our home to be a foretaste of God's kingdom on earth, where men and women live in harmony and mutual service to one another, and the beauty of God is spread throughout our communities? What if we viewed our marriages as Christian disciplines?
Now for the surprise. I think this view would be meaningful to a growing population among us: singles. What does it say to singles when we perpetuate the myth that only in marriage are people complete? Or that only in marriage do people find true joy? If instead we viewed marriage as just one way that two people encourage each other toward God, but not the only way that people can encourage each other toward God, maybe we could be more genuinely welcoming of unmarried people. Maybe we wouldn't unintentionally overlook them. So whether single or married, may all of our relationships be places where Christ is exalted and where people are encouraged to submit to his worthiness. May our relationships be praised not just for their longevity, but for their heavenward direction.