Marriage is declining in popularity. I cited an article from the Huffington Post a few months ago that stated marriage rates are at an all time low. They, in turn, referenced an earlier article that attempted to offer some explanation for this phenomenon: it is now socially acceptable to co-habitate and/or people want to get financially settled before marriage, are the two basic reasons people are forgoing marriage. Which is really only one reason, if you think about it.
And this is not even to mention those who get married and then settle on divorce. I guess if you’re not married in the first place, then divorce goes away too.
I still think there has to be a better explanation. Maybe it is more socially acceptable these days to just live together. Maybe people think it is important to be financially stable before marriage. But I think there is something deeper going on that is at the heart of the decline we are seeing in marriage. I think that is because marriage has become, in large part, meaningless.
People get married, stay together, even work at their marriages because it makes them happy, or they hope it will, if they keep at it for long enough. That’s all well and good, but happiness it seems is not reason enough any more, for many to stay married, or to marry in the first place. I think people are coming to the conclusion that their individual happiness is just as easily obtained in a relationship outside of marriage. They say: “Why do I need a ceremony and a piece of paper to legitimize my relationship?”
It’s a good question, and on that, on the surface is difficult to answer. But I think there’s one very good reason why marriage matters, way more than most of us have thought.
Your marriage matters, not because it makes life easier or better for a few people, but because it is a symbol of Christ and the church to the world.
Paul writes to the church at Ephesus, that a “man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” He follows that thought immediately with the caveat: “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
I think what he is saying is that your marriage matters, is meaningful, because it is not about you, but rather about the mystery of Christ and his relationship with his bride, the church.
When a husband dies, lays down his life for his bride, he is revealing some deeply significant, deeply important truths about Jesus’ love, sacrifice and death for us into the world.
And when a wife honors, respects and obeys her husband, even in difficult times, she is painting a phenomenal picture of the beauty and joy the church’s, love, respect and obedience to Christ brings to a world where submission and respect for others are not highly valued.
There is nowhere else that the world will see so clearly Jesus’ love for us than in a godly marriage. Your marriage matters because it reveals the hidden things, the mysteries of Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him.