Keeping the Knot Tied

A union embodying such an
ideal (the ideal of Ephesians 5) is not to be entered into lightly or unadvisedly,
but reverently, discreetly, soberly, and in the fear of God. Such is one statement
in the marriage ceremony that I use as two much-in-love people stand in front
of me on their wedding day. That ideal is very high, and one that is not being
met very often these days--even among Christians. In general, marriage and the
family have fallen on hard times, and in a majority of non-christian homes the
whole concept of one mate for life is not even deemed possible any more.

Among Christians, however,
the standard for marriage must still be the Bible, but with the pressures of
life and the culture in which we live, that standard is being gradually lowered,
until in some Christian's minds it is seen as unattainable. That is a real tragedy
and one that needs to be reversed.

As the statement at the
beginning reads, this union is not to be entered into unadvisedly. This I believe
is one of the problems we need to face today. To have a good talk with older
believers who not only have a solid biblical understanding of marriage, but
have weathered the storms of life together and have a marriage to model, and
will share their understanding and experience with the uninitiated--this is
a must. Just because young people come from good Christian homes does not mean
they will be able to automatically have a good marriage. Good marriages don't
just happen!

There are three books I
would like to suggest as must reading for any couple contemplating marriage,
by any couple contemplating helping young people in the marriage relationship,
and by any couple whose marriage relationship is not all that it should be.

First is God's Blueprint
For Marriage
by Dan Smith. Dan has has dealt with many young people contemplating
marriage. This is written as an Emmaus Correspondence course and in that format
has questions to answer which is very helpful for couples to work through. Biblically
based, covering all aspects of marriage, such as has its foundation in creation,
the roles of husband and wife, relationships outside of the home, parenting,
and other aspects of home life are all handled well and biblically in this book.
He handles the subject of divorce and reminds us that God hates divorce--a clarion
call that needs to be sounded today.

The second book is by a
marriage counselor, Gary Smalley. The book is Hidden Keys to a Loving, Lasting
. Many marriage counselors come from the direction of psychology.
But Gary's book is solidly biblical. While drawing some things from his background,
these don't detract from what the Bible teaches about marriage. This book emphazises
relationships and what builds good ones. Attitudes such as honor, appreciation,
and understanding are the key elements of both husband and wife working together
toward a good marriage. Well written and well worth reading.

The third book is one of
the most honest, open books I have ever read. Bill Hybels, whose well-known
church on the outskirts of Chicago has stirred much controversy, had a problem
marriage. The book is entitled Fit to Be Tied. This book is about his
marriage, not his church.

The first two chapters are
worth the price of the book. The first chapter explodes the myth that marriage
will be the answer to all of life's problems. Being single is not the worst
thing that can happen in life--a wrong marriage may be. In the second chapter,
he advises that spiritual compatibility is necessary; that means more that both
parties in the marriage are saved. His workaholic life-style (in the Lord's
work), and many other factors openly and honestly shared, make this book well
worth reading. Most marriages could be helped by putting the principles discussed
in this book in practice.

Fifty percent of the marriages
in the US end in divorce. The great tragedy is that statistics for "churched
people" are almost the same as unchurched. Most families are touched by it.
It is high time we began to expend some energy in reversing this trend wherever
our influence can be felt.