What's the Big Deal About Marriage?

I saw this sign on Facebook the other day...

Funny thing is, I had just been thinking about the lack of interest in marriage these days...well...er, the biblical definition of marriage.

So, what is the big deal?  Can't a couple be just as happy living together without the confines of marriage? You know, marriage is kinda final....well...sort of.   Once you say your "I dos" then there's that pesky nail in the coffin that just won't go away.

You find yourself stuck to another person for a very, very, very long time, or unless either of you decide it just isn't working out.  If you're married, then you have the hassle and expense of obtaining a lawyer, dragging the kids through the mud, dividing up the property, etc., but if you just live together, well...you're foot loose and fancy free!  Right?

Hmmm.  Things to think about.  So suppose I went car shopping and found a car I really, really wanted.  It had all the bells and whistles and a shine like no other.  I couldn't keep my mind on anything else.  I had to have that car.

Walking towards me was this flashy salesman with a grin from ear to ear, from what probably seemed to be an easy sell.  I said, "Sir...I would like to take this car out for a test drive."

"Why sure," he said with a grin.  "Let me get the keys."

Rubbing my hands together in anticipation as I imagined myself getting comfortable in that all leather interior,  I hastily snatched up the keys from his hand then jumped into the car and in a flash was gone before he knew what hit 'em.

I went straight home.  Parked the car in my garage, then shut the door.  I would then go out each day and drive that car to my place of employment like there was no tomorrow.

Two years later, the car had somehow lost its luster.  The interior no longer had that fresh scent of leather.  The shine was covered up by a layer of dirt.  The tires were wore down from all the miles I had put on the car, and stale french fries were stuck to the back floor interior.  It was time for a change.

I saddled up and drove back to the car lot.  I spied the same man who years before I had taken the car from.  Clearing my throat I said, "Sir...this car is just not what I'm looking for.  I'd like to try out something that's a little less used." 

"I'm sorry to hear that," he said.  "You took something that did not belong to you and used it for your own pleasure.  Now, you will have to pay the price."

Of course, the police would be called and I would be promptly arrested for violating something that I clearly did not have license for.

Okay, so it's a silly little story, but that is what is happening every day in our world.  Couples are foregoing the marriage license, and instead moving in with one another to enjoy the benefits of marriage without first obtaining the God-given right to those things.

The Bible tells us that sexual relations outside of the boundaries of marriage is sin.  These boundaries were set up for our protection, not to cause us needless pain and suffering.

Marriage is a God-designed institution between one man and one woman for life.  We can debate that fact...portray it in movies and books as something else, and even get the government to back us in a skewed representation of what it is, but the fact remains the same.  In the beginning God created man and woman, male and female to enter into a legitimate covenant relationship with one another, allowing for the procreation of humankind and the security and well being of a healthy family unit; forsaking all others, for a lifetime of friendship, partnership and love.

Sex outside of marriage is nothing more than uncontrolled lust, selfishness and greed towards another human being.  It displays a "me first" attitude, and tanks the commitment level.    It makes a relationship something that is cheap and replaceable.  With no strings come less reason to hold one to another solely.

Take a look at the following quotes:

Research indicates that people who live together prior to getting married are more likely to have marriages that end in divorce. " The Boston Herald

A recent study on cohabitation concluded that after five to seven years, only 21 percent of unmarried couples were still living together. " The Boston Herald

Couples who live together not only are significantly more likely to divorce after marriage, but about 45 percent of them will break up before marriage, studies show. Cohabitation, Mike McManus said, has a high failure rate because it’s based on selfishness. 

 “’If you make me feel loved, then I might marry you. If you make me happy, then I might marry you.  Love and marriage is an investment, and cohabitation is a gamble. Cohabitation is conditional; marriage is based on permanence. These are radically different psychological premises.  True love is selfless -- seeking to serve the other person. Cohabitation is based on selfishness -- ‘How will this relationship satisfy me?’” - Mike McManus 

Women who cohabitate are more likely to be abused and to be depressed than women in a marriage, studies cited by the McManuses say. Additionally, men and women in a live-together arrangement are more likely to cheat on one another. But perhaps most concerning, couples who cohabitate are nearly just as likely as married couples to have children -- meaning that the failed relationship has an impact beyond the man and woman.

So, my question is this, "Why compromise?  Why settle for something less than the best?"

God has our best interest at heart.  His commands to commit to a loving, marital relationship are for the building of strong families and the framework of a godly society. 

Marriage is actually a physical picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride the church.  Just as husbands are commanded to "love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy...husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies."

Christ came and gave Himself up sacrificially to offer the free gift of salvation to mankind.  Those who freely accept His sacrifice, become His bride - His chosen ones to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.  Christ's love for mankind was unselfish and willingly bestowed upon an undeserving people. 

Husbands should love their wives more than themselves and do everything in their power to provide for her, cherish her and love her just as Christ did for each of us.

Wives on the other hand, are commanded to "submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior....The wife must respect her husband."

As the bride of Christ, we recognize that He is our Provider, Protector, and Guide within our lives here on earth and to come.  Our husbands are to be our earthly provider, protector and guide within our homes.  They should be leading us spiritually (though many are not) and displaying that Christ-like character of unselfish love and humbleness (though many are not).  When they are leading well, then it is easy to submit and acknowledge that though we are equal in God's eyes, our husbands are the head of the home positionally just as Christ is the head of the church.

For Rick and I, our marriage has been 25 1/2 years in the making.  Though it has taken much time, practice, tears, heartache, prayer and unbridled devotion to get to a place where I can honestly say that he is leading well and I am learning to follow his lead, we are (hopefully) displaying to our children and others a lifelong commitment and covenant before God and man.  Plus, we are completely one unit in thought, desire, God-centeredness and body.

I pray that if you are in a relationship today that is not God-established....perhaps you are living together, then you will consider the true meaning of marriage and seek to please God above popular acceptance.  I promise, marriage can work and can be an amazing lifetime of blessing.