Is Marriage A Thing of the Past?

To understand anything that was designed for a specific purpose you have to go back to its origin which includes the designer’s intent and purpose. This objective provides a clue to its meaning along with the laws and principles regulating it. Looking beyond the many viewpoints on marriage that apparently have been influenced by our culture within a small window of time, we must go back to the beginning. The answer to the rhetorical question is that marriage is absolutely a thing of the past—for it predates history. The fact is, marriage was designed by God as the foundation on which to build the human race through the most intimate form of companionship—decidedly by design—between a man and a woman.

A Thing of the Past, Present, and Future
The very essence of its design is that God’s purpose for marriage was so critical that he made this institution a fixed law rivaled only by the laws of the space-time continuum that preceded it. In fact, since God is outside of space and time, his laws and institutions are timeless. Though many attempts have been made to redefine marriage, like a firmly driven nail that refuses to be removed, its very nature defies redefining. Those who scorn its tradition turn it into a debate over civil and religious liberties and gender rights. Many who see the fallout of their parent’s broken marriages view it as either an untrustworthy arrangement or a less attractive alternative to cohabitation.

A Matter of Distinctions
But all who deny God-given aspects of their created humanity and twist its glorious intention must live with the consequences of that denial which will inevitably reveal itself. Moral absolutes, like all fixed laws, have built within them a reap what you sow scenario. That scenario is a constant reminder that God cannot be mocked and that we are not sovereign. How could we be? We didn’t create a thing let alone give it meaning. As Dr. Peter Jones of The Truth Exchange said in his article titled, Why I Signed The Nashville Statement on Sexuality, “It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences, but God structured the cosmos on a principle of distinctions within unity, reflecting the very nature of the Trinity. The Bible presents a heterocosmology, not a homocosmology—a created universe based on “otherness,” not “sameness.” That primary “otherness” is between God and His creation. Within the creation, there are many distinctions that witness to that ultimate distinction—between animals and humans, for example, and (supremely) between male and female persons. This cosmic fact is true for everyone.”

Getting Back to the Garden
So as we look back to the inception of marriage, all of our questions crystallize into simple yet profound answers regarding love, marriage, sexuality, and divine intervention. Imagine the beauty of human love as it first began when God introduced Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden. Everything God created was perfect and had its perfect counterpart: heaven and earth, land and sea, day and night, and the woman for the man. God created a companion for Adam from his rib so that loneliness would be a stranger and companionship would be an ever-present guest. The introduction was more like a ceremony; one with an intimate magnitude rivaling the cosmic magnitude of the creation of the world. Let there be marriage! On that day, the divine officiator established the original mandate for marriage. That sacred scene where God himself was present would set a pattern for all time, and provide us with the most quoted text in history: Genesis 2:24.“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.” Subsequently, teachers of the law and followers after them would be forever bending the Genesis mandate. Jesus, later in his ministry had to reinforce the account in the wake of erroneous opinions about divorce in Matthew 19:5-6.

Let There Be Marriage
We know that the reference to “leaving father and mother” applies to all subsequent marriages because Adam and Eve had no parents. The “leaving” and “uniting” was directed to all descendants of Adam and Eve. From the historical account in Eden, at the very first marriage on earth, it is clear that marriage is a divine initiative rather than a man-made mirage. It is God himself who proposed the first wedding. He then conducted the ceremony and joined male and female into a mystical union. His defining proclamation to let no one separate what God has joined together carries the weight of intended permanence. Marriage, according to God, is to be preserved. Knowing the power of this union gives us considerable reason for confidence because the prospects are positive when we stay on course with the original plan and the Planner of the plan. Breaking marital oneness is difficult, painful, and unnatural, precisely because of the spiritual dynamic present when we take our vows.

Thankfully, because marriage is a thing of the past, we can count on it to be a thing of the present and future—and what a way to spend life with your closest companion.

Bob Smith
Co-Author of The Music of Marriage


Marriage Is A Conversation

Getting Inside the Song
Bob Dylan recently released a CD of cover tunes from the 40’s and 50’s—many were originally sung by Frank Sinatra. In a recent interview, Bob was asked what he thought of Sinatra and he said, “Frank had the ability to get inside of the song in a conversational way. Frank sang to you, not at you.” You know, I thought what Bob said was true. When you listen to him sing, it’s as if he is conversing with you about something, whether it was his view of life or the ups and downs of his love life. The “getting inside the song in a conversational way” is what is often lost over time in a marriage relationship.

Like the dating relationship, marriage usually starts out as a conversation. You cherish every thought your spouse has, and because you do, you are intent on listening intimately. The capacity to understand each other is at its highest in those early days. But routine and friction soon wear the edges off romance like water over river stones. Now the concern is being heard rather than hearing—what’s on our spouses’ heart that is. The emotional shift leads to erecting defense mechanisms rather than putting up an antenna for a better signal. This naturally is where quarrels and other opportunistic forces begin to drive a wedge in the relationship. But not too many people reflect on why they’re quarreling—that’s not the conversation they began. There may be some obvious things like the emergence of an unpleasant character trait in a spouse that gets routinely criticized by the other, yet the critique is not always met with a willingness to change. Yet change is a necessity for a fruitful life and by extension, marriage.

Dialog or Monolog?
Love in marriage grows through mutual understanding, (the dialog, or conversation) but love is stunted through a lack of mutual understanding (the monolog). One or both parties want to be heard, but no one is really hearing the other one. Perhaps one party does get it and the other doesn’t. Have you ever heard your spouse telling a story but you weren’t listening, and you had to find a way to reply in such a way that they wouldn’t know you weren’t listening? Our natural tendency is to be preoccupied with our own thoughts. If we don’t consciously break through that self-centered barrier, we effectively shut communication down and bigger problems arise. So if the love of your life shares a thought or desire it should never be taken as insignificant. Because behind it all is a heart where that thought or desire lives. If what is important or meaningful to them gets shrugged off, he or she will think you don’t care about them.

Enlarging Each Others’ World
If you’ve lost that loving two-way conversation where you’re talking at your spouse rather than to them and with them, how do you get it back?  We’ve seen in our marriage that problems have a way of resolving themselves when we transfer our mind and affections to the other person. That means, a purposeful movement to fulfill the other person in every way—like we said in our vows—rather than seeking fulfillment for ourselves. Our new book, “The Music of Marriage” goes into detail about fulfillment. When we decide to see life through another’s eyes, instead of just our own, we step inside the immense beauty of another’s world, which enlarges the small confines of our own. A new appreciation for the gifts, the uniqueness, and the contribution your spouse makes to your life emerges. It becomes apparent when the focus is shifted to the other person that you both embrace and enlarge each other’s world. That doesn’t mean you’ve solved all your problems; it does mean that you’ve already gone half the distance toward solving them. Once thoughtful, loving communication is established, you can solve anything and accept each other for who you both are.

William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet said, “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”

A Never Ending Conversation
Within Christian marriage, you have the added dimension of the lordship of Christ—who makes you one in marriage—bringing even greater significance and scope to your unity. To get to the point where we see the complete dimension of being ‘one’ with our spouse as we are one in Christ takes an ongoing understanding of both. This is why it takes a lifetime to develop a never ending conversation.

Bob Smith
Co-Author of The Music of Marriage