It’s easy to understand why most Christians are frustrated with the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage. We believe marriage is much more than a civil ceremony; it is a divine covenant. The Bible teaches it was God who brought Adam and Eve together and God who performed the first marriage ceremony. Marriage was established in the Garden of Eden long before the government and the church. God designed it to be the basic building block for an orderly society.
It’s our conviction that no human being has the right to completely disregard, easily dissolve or dramatically redefine an institution that God established. God formed the marriage bond between a man and a woman for the purpose of reproducing life and providing the best and most secure environment for children. Marriage was also intended to be a symbol of God’s faithfulness to us. “This is a profound mystery- but I’m talking about Christ and the church,” the Apostle Paul taught. No wonder Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Now that five unelected government officials have usurped God’s authority and redefined marriage what should Christians do? There are numerous positive actions we can take, including speaking the truth in love regardless of how hostile the world’s reaction may be. But I believe the best thing we can do at this point is to model what a Christian marriage and a godly family should be.
About half of today’s youth grow up in broken homes and have very little understanding of what a good marriage is supposed to look like. The television show The Simpsons is currently used on some college campuses to teach about the family. But Homer and Marge Simpson are certainly not good role models for marriage.
ABC now airs a program called Modern Family. This award-winning show bills itself as: “… three families give us an honest and often hilarious look into the sometimes warm, sometimes twisted, embrace of the modern family.” Not surprisingly Modern Family makes light of affairs, live in relationships, divorce and the homosexual lifestyle.
Our culture’s poor perception of marriage, however, is not totally the fault of Hollywood, the media, educators, no-fault divorce laws or the Supreme Court. Those of us who are married haven’t set a very inspiring example.
When you see a couple at a restaurant engaged in eager conversation, touching, laughing, completely focused on each other, what do you conclude? “Not married yet.” When you see a couple at a restaurant staring into space, not talking, obviously bored, what do you conclude? “Must be their 40th wedding anniversary!”
No wonder today’s youth have such a negative concept of marriage and the family. If they go to church they may hear sermons about God’s design for marriage but they don’t see many inspiring examples of Christian couples who appear to be fulfilled and happy.
One of the best things we can do for today’s youth is to model a loving and lasting marriage. That does not mean we pretend to have a syrupy, sickeningly-sweet relationship that’s so phony it turns people off. But we can model marriage by showing kindness to our spouse and treating one another with tenderness and respect. It should be evident to the world that we love each other in spite of disagreements. We stick together when the going gets tough. We can be very different and still complement each other. Somehow that’s more realistic and inspirational than faking an ideal relationship.
It would be helpful if those of us who have been married for a few years would be a little more demonstrative at times. Perhaps our children would place a higher value on the institution of marriage if they saw us holding hands, embracing, teasing, laughing and making it obvious that we enjoy each others company.
Howard Hendricks said he and his wife were embracing and kissing in the kitchen early one evening when his fourteen year old son walked in with a friend he’d brought home from school. Hendricks’ son protested, “Good night! Let’s go back outside! They’re at it again!”
As the two young teenagers left, Howard Hendrix overheard his son’s friend ask, ‘What’s wrong?”
“Oh, they’re hugging and kissing each other again. They do it all the time. It’s sickening!”
Hendrix said he overheard the young visitor say, “Wow! You’re lucky. My parents are divorced and my mom is dating a different guy every month. I wish I had parents like that.”
A few months ago my wife and I had lunch with Cecil and Frieda McGee from our church. Although both are over 90 years old they are blessed with good physical health and mental alertness. They laugh a lot and are a joy to be with. Cecil and Frieda have been married for 66 years. On the way home my wife said to me, “Did you see the way Frieda still patted Cecil on the leg and smiled admiringly at him as he talked? That’s so neat!” Judy and I just celebrated our 50th anniversary, yet we’re inspired by the loving example of a couple who are two decades older.
That’s what the world needs to see in the coming years when marriages around them are crumbling and the understanding of what a family should be is muddled. There’s an old saying, “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” I believe the best thing a Christian couple can do for their children and the youth of their community is to model what God intended a marriage to be.
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he does himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).