Spiritual Authority in a Modern World
I once read a comic strip that said a lot about the world’s view of marriage. One guy said, “You know, it is odd, but now that I’ve announced my engagement, I’m starting to feel nervous about getting married!” “I know what you’re thinking,” the other man replied. “It’s only natural to be nervous. Marriage is a big commitment. A couple of years can be a long time!”
People are sometimes surprised when they discover a colleague or coworker’s marriage has endured for ten-years or more. In 1973, I went to work in a department store. In the orientation, we had to tell something about ourselves. After a woman said she and her husband had been married for fifteen years, a girl next to me blurted, “To the same man?”
The divorce rate is rising among Christians as fast as non-Christians. Marriage vows do not mean what they used to mean. We can almost hear wedding vows change from “Till death do us part” to “Till something better comes along.”
Marriage is God’s first institution and is the source of all other relationships; however, marriage is the most prominent one. Everything else takes a backseat, including our children, family, and friends. Marriage is a lifetime partnership. By viewing it this way, we can better understand our spouse and our wedding vows, and develop a deeper commitment to both.
Everyone Has an Opinion
Ten different people will give us ten different answers, if asked what marriage means to them. The sixteen-year-old girl views marriage as a way out from under her parent’s authority. A widow may interpret it as companionship. To the childhood sweethearts, marriage is the fulfillment of a dream. The definition of marriage is different to all of us and unique to each of us.
Webster’s says marriage is: “The act of uniting a man and woman for life, and the legal union of a man and woman for life.” Marriage is the act that unites two parties. Matrimony is the state into which they enter. Marriage is for life, until one or the other dies. In this book, the term life partner refers to either spouse.
A partner is one with a share or part in anything with another. In marriage, each partner has a stake in the continuation and expansion of the relationship. God uses the institution of marriage to accomplish many things. He perpetuates the human race through the family. Without marriage’s commitment, our civilization would not exist. Homes are set aside to use in His plan. He entrusted Moses, Samson, Jesus, and other children to godly parents to bring up to find and fulfill their life purpose.
God designed marriage for specific purposes, which we should all strive to achieve in our own relationship. His first goal for marriage is companionship for both partners. True friendship grows out of oneness of spirit. Oneness of spirit, results when both partners focus their hearts and minds upon Jesus. Partners who endeavor to serve and please God will, “leave their father and mother and cleave unto each other, as they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Cleaving together is more than satisfying our desires and drives. Marriage includes three fundamental aspects. The first is the leaving. This is the two making a public pledge of allegiance and lifelong commitment to one another. The second is the joining or cleaving. This involves the physical expression of romantic love and faithfulness. The third component is becoming one flesh. This includes the sexual connection that unites the souls, or the spiritual and psychological intertwining of persons.
“Leave” and “cleave” are terms associated with covenant promise. Marriage is a new relationship bound by common oath. In becoming one flesh, sexual intimacy is the expression of the uniting of husband and wife.
All these aspects are essential. Sex, however, by itself is not enough to fulfill marriage. Many marriages fail because only this is the only thing the couple shares in common. Cleaving is spiritual oneness stemming from our channeling each heart, mind, personality, and desire into a common goal. We must long for our lives, homes, and ministries to reflect God’s love. …