Marriages can work when you add God to the mix

( [email protected] ) Sep 16, 2003 07:51 PM EDT

AS A YOUNG child, I cried myself to sleep many nights as I listened to my parents arguing downstairs. From my bed I heard their voices rising, doors slamming, and my mother weeping. I prayed for my parents to find a way to work out their problems. And through my tears, I asked God to stop their fighting.

One night, as my brothers and I sat around the kitchen table, our parents asked each of us with whom we wanted to live when they separated. Our hearts were flooded with emotions and our minds tried to grasp the implications of their question. We refused to choose between them because we loved them both so much. Instead, we begged them to keep our family together. Fortunately, my parents never divorced, although like all couples, they had their difficult moments. Their marriage survived as they resolved their differences.

Too many children cry themselves to sleep at night as I did. Marriage and family defense is needed because our most sacred relationships are under attack. Many different forces at work in our culture are destroying far too many homes, and far too many marriages end in divorce.

Like great football teams, strong homes are made of well-built defenses. Unfortunately, many couples forget this. They permit defenses to break down, sometimes from neglect, but more often, from the distraction of life's many challenges. There are many reasons why defensive strategies are needed.

A good defense is needed because marriages are valuable beyond measure. God instituted marriage and family as the building blocks of society. That is why, in the Garden of Eden, He created the first man and woman and appointed them to care for His creation. Throughout history God has used the home to fulfill His purposes.

God fashioned the marriage union as an illustration of the relationship of Jesus to believers. In the Bible, the church is viewed as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). God's desire is that a husband and wife should live in a relationship that is mutually fulfilling and functions in a healthful manner.

A first-class defense recognizes and prepares couples for marital struggles. Since marriage is such a visible entity in the church, many Christian partners suffer in silence, their struggles rarely coming to light. Because of the stigma we attach to marital failure, these people fear their struggles will become common knowledge. But the sad fact is that the dissolution of their marriage is exactly that - an obvious and painful event.

A superior defense is required because marriage is on the decline in our culture. Marriage is losing its place in American society as an increasing number of couples choose to live together without marriage. And what about divorce? Divorce is, for far too many couples, an easy way out, a painless solution to problems they'd rather not deal with. This does not diminish the horrendous situations many find themselves in. But too frequently, spouses bail out of marriage as soon as the going gets tough.

Many women braid their hair. At first glance, it appears that each braid has two strands. But two strands are unworkable. When you try to braid with two strands, they come apart. A third strand is required. It is the third strand that makes the braid possible.

A solid defense recognizes the need for the third strand. The reality of God's presence provides the defense our homes need. And that's what many have forgotten. God is the third strand that keeps us working together. His power brings about the healing needed to turn a hurting home into one that honors Him.