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Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Has Happened to Marriage?

Can you imagine going to a car dealer who lets you drive any car on the lot without any obligation for as long as you want? He says, "Come back and we'll finalize this deal when you are ready to make a commitment." He's hoping that you'll love the car so much that you will want to make it yours officially. This dealer is sure to go out of business.

This is not the model the Bible uses for marriage. Marriage should be a model for love.

Love involves commitment. Jesus speaks of doing what He has said to prove our love. This is a commitment to Him. He speaks of taking care of each other because of our love. There is no love without commitment.

Love requires sacrifice. It may not appear to be sacrifice because it is love. There is no love when you are waiting for something better to come along. There is no love if you are unwilling to be committed.

An clandestine commitment is no commitment. Jesus said we must proclaim our relationship to Him or He would not proclaim it to us. You can't be silent and claim that you are committed to God. It must be said to Him and it must be said to others.

Marriage is intended to be a public commitment between a man and woman who love each other. Some states still require witnesses before the marriage license is complete. It is intended to give certain privileges and responsibilities. It is intended to make a family.

I believe people want to play house but not form a family. They want to enjoy all of the privileges without any of the responsibilities. This is extremely immature. This is ignoring common sense. Otherwise, car dealers will be sending customers out with their cars with no obligation for as long as they want.

Many things in life don't seem to do any damage at the time. The person that gets AIDs doesn't seem to have been damaged for some time. The person who smokes doesn't seem to have any damage for a great while. The person who lives an unhealthy lifestyle doesn't see the damage for years to come. The people who live together without marriage will see this come back to haunt them.

A family teaches the way we should act in our society. We learn responsibility in a family. We learn that family matters. We learn to take up for each other. We learn to help each other. Take away the family and we are all on our own. We will become the most neurotic people you will ever see. Yes, you can be neurotic and have been raised in a disfunctional family. However, a cohabitation family is making sure the home is disfunctional yet hoping to raise someone productive. How crazy is that?

If you are committed, why not be married? If you aren't, why pretend that you are?

A church I served had an Indian couple who had several children. They told me that their marriage had been arranged before they had met each other. They met the day before they were married.

I asked, "But do you love each other?"

They looked at me as if I were the craziest person on the planet. "Of course," they replied. They looked at each other and I saw that love that comes from a deep commitment. It was one that was lasting. It was one that was full of sacrifice. It was one that had passion.

Here is the missing element in marriage today. We think love is something that you fall into. It is like the branches over a large hole that we unwittingly fall into. We think that we can get out of it if we can. We don't see it as a commitment first. When it is a commitment we are free to love without reservation. Without commitment, there is always a danger when either person can climb out. How do you give your love without reservation without a commitment? One may, but I doubt if both will.

I thought I loved my wife when we got married. I learned what love is after we got married. It isn't just how you feel. It becomes who you are. It has been said that you spend the first twenty-five years of marriage wondering how you will live with the other person. Then, you spend the next twenty-five years wondering how you could ever live without them.

Marriage is something you work on. It is a commitment which burns the bridges behind you. It is a journey which should become an adventure. It is great if you will work at it with complete commitment. Marriage is alive and well in many places. The trouble is that you have to look harder to find it.

Instead of wanting your neighbors to envy you for your house or car, have one of those marriages they would die for. If you do, maybe others will want one like yours too.

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