It will soon be the season for weddings. I’d like to give these couples some thoughts and wishes as they begin life together.
I’ve been blessed to participate in the weddings of our three married children and privileged to officiate in one of them. Our unmarried daughter finally got tired of my asking if she had found someone and ever so politely and lovingly and in so many words told me to buzz off. And no, she wasn’t crude about it, just firm. She’s quite content being single.
I was just going through my files looking for something else when I came across the notes I used in those weddings. Reading them again brought tears to my eyes as I recalled those happy occasions and am able to reflect on what has happened since then in all of them. I sometimes joke that I’m where we now live because of my wife, and she’s here because of the grandchildren. We have others in different states now, but these were the only ones for quite a while. It’s been a blessing to watch them grow and mature, and to see our children happy and settled.
In the beginning of all things earthly, God created the heavens and the earth, with all the creatures that are in them. On one level, it was for occasions like weddings that all these wonderful things were made. We read in Genesis that God made a man and gave everything into his hand, except one tree. God brought all the animals to Adam, and Adam named them. There was, however, something missing. Every animal, every bird, had its own corresponding mate – there were two of them. Only Adam stood by himself. God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” and He set about at once to finish His creation. When He was done, He brought the first woman to the first man. Now God hadn’t been caught off-guard or surprised and so made Eve as some sort of after-thought. I think He did it this way to show the special relationship that one man and one woman are to sustain toward each other for life.
For the man: –
There’s an interesting verse in the Old Testament that’s very applicable here. Most people think of the Old Testament as all stern and unyielding and there are some things in it which do sound strange to us. And it’s true that we don’t live under its requirements any more. but there’s still a lot of wisdom in its pages. This verse has some of it:
When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to the wife whom he has taken, Deuteronomy 24:5 (NKJV).
“Bring happiness to the wife whom he has taken.”
“Bring happiness to your wife.”
When was the last time you heard that in marital counseling?
And, yes, I understand that there are sometimes complex issues involved. After all, we are human beings.
But this is a good place to start.
We men are pretty good, or bad, about what we expect from our wives: “She’d better” do this or that. We don’t give much thought to what they might expect from us. However, God said to the man, “Bring happiness to your wife.” It’s your responsibility to make her happy, not hers to make you happy.
The world has a saying, “When the queen is happy, there’s peace in the realm.” There’s a lot of truth in that. If you treat your wife like a dog, don’t be surprised if she barks at you. Of course, that’s the trouble with a lot of men, they would treat a dog better than they do their wife.
It might be objected that that’s Old Testament, and even I have recognized that we don’t live under its rules any more. However, the same God Who wrote the Old Testament wrote the New Testament as well. In 1 Corinthians 7:33, Paul wrote, …he that is married cares about the things of the world – how he may please his wife.
Many consider Paul to have a negative view of marriage and of women in general. Not so. In this verse, he explicitly says that it’s the man’s responsibility to please his wife, although he does also say that the wife is to make her husband happy. Being well-versed in the Old Testament, since that’s pretty much all they had in the beginnings of the New Testament, not forgetting the teachings of the Lord Jesus, he likely was thinking of Deuteronomy 24:5.
I suppose there might be some who look at the phrase “the things of the world,” and figure that they don’t have to worry about it. Marriage is “of the world,” and Christians are “not of this world.” However, God ordained and instituted marriage, and laid out the guidelines under which it was to be entered and lived. That those guidelines have been ignored or rejected has a lot to do with the mess society is in right now.
And we can’t overlook Ephesians 5:25, which says, Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it. I don’t know of any man, no matter how much he thinks of himself, who would say that he’s done that! Also, Colossians 3:19.
He shall bring happiness to the wife whom he has taken.
For the woman: –
Genesis 2:18 gives us the fundamental reason why God created Eve, as we’ve already noted. It wasn’t good for man to be alone. Malachi 2:14, …she is your companion… These two verses bookmark the Old Testament view of marriage. It is a companionship. There may or may not be legitimate reasons for “girls’ night out” or “boys’ night out,” but blessed indeed is that couple which finds its greatest joy in each other.
Marriage isn’t a competition. One is not “better” than the other. We’re all fallen, fallible creatures and it wouldn’t be until heaven, if marriage were to endure til then, that a wife would have a perfect husband, and the husband a perfect wife.
And there is no condescension in marriage. Those who disagree with the Biblical view of marriage accuse it of making women second-class citizens. That’s not true. We each have different roles and responsibilities in marriage, but one is no less important than the other. There are physical differences to be sure; I don’t know that my wife could pick up a 40 lb bag of salt to put into the water softener, but then she has mothered five children and birthed four of them. One went ahead of us, whom we never got to meet, hold or love. She wins, hands down! And it has taken a woman of great grace, courage and mercy to put up with me for 43 years!
Eve was to be a completion, a complement, to Adam. She was the finishing touch to creation. It wasn’t until after her appearance that God pronounced everything, very good, Genesis 1:31.
A lot of the trouble in marriage is caused because people overlook this basic dictum: He created them male and female. Men are men and women are women. Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. We are both from the hand of God.
A lot of women want their husbands to be more like themselves. I suppose that has to do with feelings and emotions. And men want their wives to be more like them. Or they want to “get in touch with their feminine side.” If you want to see my feminine side, I’ll introduce you to my wife!
God “made them male and female.” In every area and in every difference, God has made them that way.
To a young woman standing before me, I would say, “you are about to enter into uncharted territory, so far as you are concerned.” [I admit that this is an old-fashioned view, that couples don’t move in together without the benefit of marriage “to see if it’ll work out.” Where’s the fun – and the challenge – of discovering a new country, so to speak, if you’ve already explored all of it? And this doesn’t consider what God says about such an arrangement, that it is sin.] (continuing – ) “No longer will you be a single young woman answerable and responsible only to God and yourself. From now on, the young man standing by your side must have great consideration in your plans and in your life. You are required by Holy Scripture to have respect for him, to obey him. This does not mean that you are to become a door-mat or a non-person in any way; it simply recognizes that his is the main responsibility before God in your marriage.”
It’s very interesting that there’s no Scripture which tells the wife directly to love her husband, only to respect him. [Fellows, listen up. Are you worthy of respect?] Indeed, there is a verse which counsels older women to admonish the younger women to love their husbands…., Titus 2:4. It must be tough on you ladies when your Prince Charming turns out to be a frog. I don’t see how you do it. The older ladies are supposed to have some experience in this and are to pass it along to the younger ladies.
To both of them: –
Marriage is a “they” proposition: A man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh. “They” speaks of a mutual endeavor. “Shall become” speaks of a mutual effort. “One flesh” speaks of a mutual experience. This is very brief. So much more could be said about it.
To any young couples contemplating marriage who are reading this, I wish for you two that you will become like an ornamental Benjamin fig tree I once saw. Someone had taken three slender trees and planted and braided them together. The tree had grown over these three individual shoots and they had become united as one tree. I know it loses a lot in the telling, but the tree was beautiful. May you two as you plant and entwine your lives grow together as one and become beautiful in the hand of God.