In today’s world where, as a young person, I’m constantly being reminded by professors and publishings of the “1 in 2 marriages end in divorce” statistic, I often find myself wondering why. I understand the explanation of why the statistic is misleading, (many people get divorced/remarried numerous times and are counted for more than the couple who stays together forever) but even so, it’s impossible to deny that failure of marriages is rampant.
While I am definitely a hopeless romantic and am so easily absorbed by the beauty of marriage, I am also a realist, so I do understand that not everybody is wired like me. Not everybody is amazed by marriage and not everybody has incredible faith in it. In fact, I’d suppose if I were to conduct an interview of young people in all different walks of life, the majority would say they had a rather small amount of faith in the institution of marriage. I argue that the reason for this dwindling faith is the culture of marriage that has been created in the last century, by the nature of mankind that has existed since the first man and woman were created.
*Disclaimer: I’m nineteen years old and, from my estimation, a long way from being married. For this reason, I may seem like the last person that should be writing about marriage and divorce. However, where I lack first-hand experience, I have the Lord, His Word, and eyes to see the ways of the world and the evidence of Satan’s destruction in failing marriages all around me.
As a wise, prophetic 80’s pop star once said, “love is a battlefield”. I’d argue that marriage is, in fact, the bigger battlefield. You might think that’s basically saying the same thing, but I make the distinction for a reason.
We’re filled with this ideal that “love is all you need” to make relationships endure all circumstances, and as soon as we start questioning whether that love is present anymore, we flee. This is because of our confusion of “being in love” with true love. We flee because our feelings of “being in love”–being in that initial romantic, glorious state–flee. Our lack of understanding of love as a sacrificial, painful process of growing through all trials and changes in circumstances infects our relationships.
While every situation in this world involves a fight against the Enemy on some level, marriage is the most brutal battlefield against Satan and his schemes. In order to understand why Satan hates marriage so much and seeks to destroy it so badly, we must understand why God loves it so much.
After the creation of Adam, God immediately stated that “it is not good for man to be alone.” In Genesis 2:18-24 God’s love for marriage and creation of it as a divine institution is evident. Marriage is the beautiful representation of Christ’s union with His Church–He as the bridegroom, us as His bride. It is the regarding of man and wife as a single organism–’one flesh’–for life. Marriage is the closest earthly illustration of this heavenly union, so it is Satan’s most direct target for destruction. Causing the betrayal of a marriage oath taken before God and destroying a family from the inside-out gives Satan the ultimate satisfaction. If this doesn’t spark a desire to fight against the Enemy and his ways, I don’t know what will.
If “being in love” is the driving reason for a man and woman to marry and the fuel behind the continuance of their life together, then there is no need for the contract and divine covenant that is, biblically, a marriage. As C.S. Lewis said, “If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made.” The promise remains when one ceases to be in love.
Promises are made of actions, not feelings. One can promise to pay for someones dinner, clean their house, or you know, casually to stand by their side through any circumstance for as long as they both shall live. One cannot promise to never have a headache, to never experience unexplainable emotions, to never “fall out of love”. And God, the Creator who knows our inmost thoughts and feelings, the Creator who knows how we react to situations, still designed the covenant of marriage to last as long as they both shall live. He knew that the initial feelings that we experience when we first date, fall in love, and get married would not last, but He still designed marriage to be for life.
“But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense–love as distinct from ‘being in love’–is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive from God.” –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
While being in love initially inspires people to enter the divine institution of marriage, it cannot be the sustaining fuel if the marriage is going to last. Nicholas Sparks (and millions of other authors and movie producers–no fresh callouts intended…ily Sparks) has created a facade that when you’ve found “the one,” you’ll never lose the feelings of being in love. Because of this, as soon as you start falling out of love, you immediately jump to the conclusion that this is not your “one” so you run.
From my detached perspective, it’s honestly humorous, but I know that it’s so, so real in relationships and marriages. I know because I’ve seen it.
I know sometimes it’s crazy to believe, but God–you know, the One who knows you better than you know yourself; the One who knows your spouse better than you know them–really knew what He was doing when He designed how marriage was going to work. He knew that persisting for the long-run would bring far greater joy than constantly seeking the initial pleasure of “falling in love”. When we first learn to ride a bike as children, it’s really exciting. We feel like we can conquer the world. But wouldn’t it be foolish to spend our life trying to experience that initial feeling of triumph rather than use our new skill to explore the world on two wheels?
Christ told us that something will not truly live until it has died. Until the thrill and initial infatuation dies, the raw intimacy and joy that comes through fighting as one flesh cannot be experienced. Where Satan seeks to destroy, Christ will overcome when two fight in His name.
With all this being said, the one thing that is threaded through all of Christ’s lessons applies: there is hope.
There is hope for a generation that has seen countless marriages, maybe even their own parents’, fall apart before them. There is hope that we will understand the commitment and fight that marriage is–that true, sacrificial love is.
There is hope for those who are finding themselves progressively surrendering to the fight. Where there is a desire for the power of Christ’s restoration, there is always hope.
There is even hope for those who have already severed the contract of their marriage. Anything is possible when the One who is love steps in.
Fight for love. Fight for marriage. Do not let the one who comes to seek and destroy win.
And for more musical art that proclaims God’s glory….