Whoever said that marriage was for the weak did not understand the heavy weight of wedding vows. Lately, vows are often equated with tradition – just a ceremonial formality and words that a couple repeats. However, when we make a vow before God, significant shifts change in the spiritual realm. We cannot hold back those shifts; they are a part of the nature of vow-creation. And when we break those vows, we also don’t have control over the spiritually significant consequences.
I, (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
Hearing a couple recite the words “from this day forward until death do us part” makes me think they are committing to remain faithful and legally married to each other until one of them physically dies. Until recently, I thought everyone understood those words to mean the same thing… but I was wrong! A few days ago, I ran across a website that said until death do us part can mean until the death of a person, or until the death of a relationship.
This takes the sacred bond of marriage and completely flushes it away. The “death of a relationship” can come at any time, for any reason. If he decides she no longer turns him on, he can declare the relationship dead and move on to someone new who dazzles his eyes. If she is tired of doing his dishes and sharing her life with him, she can hit the dusty trail citing that their relationship is no longer alive.
As fallen creatures, we have always looked for ways to justify the things we want. Let me assure you: if you are getting married, or are already married, there will likely come a day when you will wonder if you made the right decision in your marriage partner. After a fight, or when he or she is grinding on your last nerve, you may really wonder what single life would be like again. Hopefully these thoughts won’t come often – and it’s important that you don’t dwell on them – but they most likely will come to your mind.
When these days come, you have an option. You can take God at His Word and admit that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:10-16) or you can justify your actions by your own standards and say that you really didn’t mean to vow to God until death do us part – you just meant until the marriage ran its course. God is not fooled and it still does not excuse you.
If you have been through a divorce, please know that this blog is not meant to point fingers or to condemn. God’s grace and forgiveness applies to all who repent (turning back 180 degrees and going the opposite way – from unrighteousness in doing what you want to do to righteousness in doing what God has for you to do) of their sins and put their faith in Christ. My purpose in this blog is to once again show the depth of commitment God expects when couples marry. With our culture battling hard to tear down the institution of marriage, we have to stand up and declare that the family is not obsolete and marriage is still for a lifetime.
Couples can end up having serious issues. At those times, it is essential to see a pastor or marriage counselor. The Bible reads in Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (ESV). Get people to help you – do not let your pride of not seeing a pastor or counselor destroy your marriage. Additionally, though you may have been hurt – and even hurt for many years – let God be your sustaining factor. It is Him you are trying to please by staying in the marriage, not your spouse. Keep praying for your spouse to turn around and come back to God.
Most of the time, in situations like that, I haven’t seen the person turn back. But, in rare cases, it happens. If that happens, and though you may be shocked, be open to reconciliation. It will take time – especially to rebuild trust – but, it is what God honors. And continually remember the grace that God gave to you by saving you. That is how we can keep forgiving our spouse – not only because God tells us to do so, but because we are so grateful for the gift of grace we have personally received from Him.
One more thing (and this may be an uncommon message) – if you are divorced and both of you have not remarried other people… again, be open to reconciliation. Go see a counselor. Find out what went wrong and what can be done to fix it. It will likely take time, but what an amazing story and representation of God’s grace and restoration that would be to a secular culture that breaks up whenever it is inconvenient.
If you are dating someone you are absolutely crazy about and you are considering marriage, do this – take a long look at him or her. Consider everything he or she is and the potential you see. Get good pre-engagement and premarital counseling. Think about this person turning forty, then fifty, then sixty. Consider this person lying in a hospital bed late in life. Imagine spoon feeding him or her, driving him or her around, and helping him or her bathe. If you marry this person with whom you are so enamored, you are committing to be with them as long as you are both alive. Can you get excited about seeing her age? Can you see him still being your hero when he’s gray headed or bald and pudgy? These are important questions to answer.
I’ll end by quoting my great-grandmother. “Marriage is a lifetime business. It’s not together today and separated tomorrow.” If you do take the plunge, it’s sure to be a wild ride… but with God, all things are possible. Are you ready?
Does vowing to be with someone until death excite or frighten you? Why?