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Pastor Dan Hawn publishes a weekly article which is also emailed to members and regular attenders.  Let us know if you would like to receive this weekly article via email.


More on the Sanctity of Marriage

In considering Jesus’ teaching on the subject of marriage (from Mark 10), we had two objectives. The first was:

To instill in the people of First Baptist a deep sense of the sanctity of marriage . . . as a counterbalance to all the false and harmful messages that we receive daily from our culture.

In this article, I’d like to address some of these false and harmful messages. I’ll divide them into two categories: (1) entering marriage; and (2) exiting marriage.

Entering Marriage

Probably the main message of the culture, which I did mention in Sunday’s message, is that the heart (i.e., feelings) must rule. This is presented as the sure pathway to happiness and we mustn’t allow anyone or anything to stop us from doing what “our heart tells us.” It’s even suggested a person may need to do that which is unwise or unbiblical in order to follow their heart.

Another factor is what a person expects of marriage. David Garland writes:

“The institution of marriage has changed from a predominantly socioeconomic one to something supposed to meet personal and emotional needs. We expect more from marriage than people did in the past. The vow ‘to have and to hold . . . as long as we both shall live’ has been updated to ‘as long as my spouse meets my needs and I feel fulfilled.’ Beyond the desire for financial security, companionship, and children, we expect unconditional love, emotional support, personal fulfillment and ardent romance.”

This quote reminds me of a conversation I had several years ago with a close relative. She was planning to divorce her husband of 25 years. When I asked why, she somewhat casually explained, “Because he doesn’t make me happy.”

What Garland is suggesting is that “he or she make me happy” is a relatively new expectation.

Exiting Marriage

We have these sky-high expectations at a time when there are fewer external forces to hold marriages together. Work and home life weren’t separated in the past. Now, couples go their separate ways in everyday life, meeting each other occasionally for a meal a brief vacation. Parents raise children in their vehicle as they hurry from one activity to another. Under these circumstances, it’s not unusual for spouses to grow apart.

Moreover, the social stigma once attached to divorce no longer keeps couples together. The advent of no-fault divorce laws not only give legal permission to divorce, but makes breaking up rather easy.

When given the opportunity to counsel somebody in a struggling marriage, I’ll often ask what their friends & family think and advise. In virtually every case, the advice of friends & family is to end the marriage. The attitude is: “Marriage isn’t permanent; it’s time to upgrade.”

Marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. Few things make a greater contribution to human flourishing than does a stable marriage. The entire society benefits. However, we really have our work cut out for us in teaching the sanctity of marriage to our children.

Pastor Dan

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