Before You Say “I Do”
From Nathan Ash
Marriage is just as much a fad today as it was in Noah’s time, you know, just before they closed the door on the only vessel in the middle of the desert that could float. The problem was never with God’s institution of marriage, a holy and blessed union of one man and one woman, but with our desire to objectify marriage as one of our many social experiments. Now, this simple plan to glorify God has morphed into something that is cliché and pathetic.
Exhibit A: The Kardashian Marriage
Have we ever had a bigger scam than this “made for television” disaster? The amount of money and resources used on this 74-day joke could feed an entire country in Africa for a couple of years. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the most devastating consequence; the entire tradition of marriage went on life support. We already live in a country that thinks marriage is irrelevant and unnecessary. Those two irrational ‘celebrities’ just confirmed what an entire generation already felt. Marriage is an experiment, if it doesn’t work, we move on. The sacred union of God’s creation is now nothing more than the return policy at Macy’s. If you don’t like it take it back for a full refund.
The same lame excuses Moses heard in the wilderness exist today for dissolving a marriage. Irreconcilable differences? Really? Could you imagine if God gave up on us the way we give up on each other? We had some serious irreconcilable difference. We were children of sin and He was the Holy Living God who could not even look on sin. Talk about irreconcilable differences. Yet he never gave up on us, he pursued us like we were His only son. That is what a marriage should consist of. Two people who are willing to take the next step to being closer to God. If the marriage is built on anything else, it will not prosper. God is clear on his feelings for divorce, He hates it.
So what is it we should consider before taking this leap of faith? While I don’t fancy myself a marriage expert, I have been married for seven years now, and I have seen many marriages in my life that have worked and seen just as many fail. I’ve also studied the Biblical scenarios, and what the Bible teaches, and it is clear marriage is an act of worship. Here are my top five things to consider before saying ‘I do’.
1. Consecrate yourselves.
We see a beautiful picture of worship in the Old Testament where the priests would literally spend hours preparing themselves to worship Jehovah. This act is repeated by the angels themselves in Job, where the Bible says they were consecrating themselves when Satan walked in to petition God. Why is this important? Because marriage is stepping into a deeper relationship with God. It makes you accountable for not just yourself, but also your significant other. It should not be taken lightly, but both of the parties involved should spend significant time in prayer and contemplation. This is a permanent decision, not a spontaneous ‘Thelma & Louise’ moment. Couples who jump in with no preparation end up driving their marriage off a cliff. Humble yourselves to the vast reality of this truth: Marriage is permanent. You will become one flesh. Dwell on that, and consider the holiness of this action.
2. Be Madly in Love with each other.
Pretty obvious right? Well the truth is many couples have lofty ideas about marriage because of the culture we live in. Especially in this world of “the church”. We are strong defenders of marriage, almost compelling our young people to pursue it as our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal should be to pursue a relationship with God. A loving passionate relationship with God sets the stage for a loving passionate relationship with your significant other. You see past the illusions of lust, security, and worldly pressure and you marry the person God meant for you to be with.
3. Have a firm financial footing.
This is almost as obvious as love, but it persists today as the number one relationship problem. Notice I didn’t say, ‘wait until you get rich’. Most of us would never get married if we had to wait until we were wealthy. In fact most married couples I know start out with very little possessions and barely anything in their bank account. The key is a fundamental understanding of your personal finances, and how you as a couple will manage them. Having a joint or separate checking account, financial long and short term goals, and debt are all issues that must be discussed before a marriage, not after. This may all seem like common sense, but statistics show it is not quite so common.
4. Leave doubts and regrets in the past.
How many of us still cling to doubt and problems from our past? Guess what? They are still there, in the past, leave them there. Marriage is a clean slate for both of you; there will be enough problems in the present to keep you occupied. These doubts are the seeds of a relationship that lacks trust. A lack of trust means you are not ready to get married yet. That is not a bad thing; again, it is better to see problems and issues before the marriage, not after. So whatever it is that bothers you about your partner, let it go. Chances are they already have.
5. Establish a spiritual foundation.
Foundations are everything. Without a solid foundation the very building you are sitting in right now would collapse. It is important to understand that Christian marriages fail almost as much as non-Christian marriages. We are not immune to heart-break, disappointment, and complete failure. There are many reasons for this, one of them being couples who are unequally yoked. If you marry somebody who is a weak Christian and you are strong, they will bring you down. Marriage is not the place to bring up someone spiritually, but inevitably many couples forge forward trying to influence their significant other to mature. They believe if they are married they will be able to influence the weaker partner. Unfortunately, if they can’t get their spiritual house in order before a marriage, it is very unlikely to happen after you say ‘I do’. Remember marriage is a sacred promise between you and your partner, a spiritual act of worship that is not to be taken lightly. If the foundation to your marriage is anything but Jesus Christ, when the storms of life inevitably come it becomes very difficult to weather them.
Remember what we learned last Sunday:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalms 127:1a NIV