Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, Genesis 2:24
Almost half of marriages end in divorce, and the average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is only eight years (according to 2014 US census data). Eight years! It’s shocking that we stand up and promise “‘til death do us part,” yet only half of us make it past eight years. Marriage is hard. And indeed, the skills necessary to simply get along long-term with other people, not just spouses, are really difficult to come by. When we concede that marriage doesn’t have to last, we also allow that friendships don’t need to last. When the going gets tough, it’s just so much easier to find new friends and start over. Except it’s not.
On paper, marriage is an unachievable task. Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands, and then he turns to the husbands and piles onto the first unbelievable task this astonishing humdinger: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:22-25). In one fell swoop, it seems Paul is making an open-and-shut case that marriage is just never going to work. He even follows this up by saying, essentially, marriage is too much for him, and he’s chosen to keep out of the fray; and if anyone else has the constitution for it, they should stay unmarried also (1 Corinthians 7:8).
But here’s the problem: not everyone has Paul’s self-control, and instead we, ahem, “burn with desire” (v. 9). We fall in love, and that love leads us to make wildly extravagant promises to each other. We promise, in our best clothes, in front of all our aunts and uncles, to love and honor one another for the rest of our lives. These are the bravest, most ridiculous promises I’ve ever made.
I want to write a book titled, ’Til Death Do Us Part, and Other Lies I Told While Wearing a White Ball Gown. Because even though I’ve been married for thirteen years, have I truly kept my wedding vows? Have you? Even before we’d driven off into the sunset, I had already broken my vows. My heart was full of love, but my soul was still inclined to offer my new husband far less than the love I’m called to give. But that’s really the whole point. And that is why marriage is a covenant. We make extravagant promises that we cannot keep, but God keeps His promises. He created marriage and designed it to last.
God has called us to live in peace (v. 15), and it’s His peace that makes it possible for us to do so. I can rely on Him. He keeps His promises. He is there in the ceremony, walking through the covenant just like He did in the Old Testament. He makes our covenants, and He keeps up both ends of the deal. May we look to Him to preserve our marriages, our friendships, and our families. He is the One who takes our brave words made on brave days and makes them come true.