One of the many joys of being in ministry is the opportunity to officiate the weddings of those that I have grown close to over the years. This weekend, one of my very first students in youth ministry will tie the knot with a wonderful woman he met a couple of years ago.
Mike and Jessica's young love reminds me of a couple of things:
1. I am getting old.
No comments necessary on that point.
2. Marriage is delicate and needs to be protected.
As I reflect back on Sarah and I's journey over the last almost 14 years I can clearly see the stages of our development as a couple. There was of course the "Honeymoon" stage that everyone knows about. There's no arguing, no tension, everything is always perfect. As a new husband or new wife you can do no wrong during this first blissful stage. But here's a question that I've been thinking about recently, "What changes?" Why does the honeymoon stage eventually disappear? Why don't young married couples who constantly seek to out serve one another turn into old married couples that constantly seek to out serve one another? Here's the answer that you're not going to like if I just described your marriage: Selfishness. By nature we are selfish people. We want what we want when we want it. We want to spend money how we want. We want to go where we want, when we want to go. We want to spend our limited free time doing the things that make us happy.
Mark 10:6-9 says, “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. 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 has joined together, let no one separate.”
I've always loved the end of that verse, it's common for that last little phrase, "What God has joined together, let no one separate" to be used in weddings just after the new couple is pronounced husband and wife. But here's a thought, with all of the emphasis on keeping marriage free from the outside attack of extra-marital affairs, office romances, old high school flames and the like, what about the possibility of an "inside job". What if we were slowly becoming unaware that our marriages were falling apart, not as a result of an outside force, but because of our own selfishness.
What if we continued to keep the needs of our spouses as the number one priority of our marriages?
What if husbands and wives repeated their wedding vows to one another at the start of everyday?
What if the honeymoon stage was more than that?
What if husbands and wives both committed to loving and forgiving as Christ has chosen to love and forgive?