Marriage: the greatest journey two people can take together in life.
Traditional biblically orthodox Christian marriage is a really big deal for OSJ (UK) and we have devoted a separate page for this topic even though it should be a part of 'Sacrament and Service'.
So many of the couples we receive have little idea about what Christian marriage entails and it is a clear sign that they have been let down by the way HMGov, society and the media have mis-represented and de-valued marriage, and also by the church in its silence and lack of commitment and understanding in preparing couples for a successful future together.
True marriage is so much more than portrayed. We want to see all marriages succeed but it means challenging many of the myths and unrealistic expectations that we are led to believe go with 'happy ever after'.
Twelve biblical basics of marriage:
1. marriage is a calling and sacrament, not a matter of temporary convenience, but instead is intended for the life of both partners, and is not only built on mutual love and affection but shared faith and biblical understanding
2. marriage, once entered into and established, cannot be undone
3. marriage is between a man and a woman (as physically defined at birth)
4. marriage is to the benefit of society as a whole in that it provides a good foundation for social stability built on relational boundaries, mutual trust and integrity.
5. marriage is intended for the procreation of children (even if that involves medical intervention)
6. and mutual comfort. It is a self-contained unit where everything that is needed for its purpose can be found,
7. children are a gift of God entrusted into the protective care and stewardship of both parents and the Christian community.
8. marriage, or anything described as 'marriage', between those of the same sex (as defined by birth, self-determination or by other choice or process) is contrary to scripture.
(same sex couples must look beyond their union if they wish to have children and that simply works against the whole principle of Christian marriage being something that is 'self-contained')
9. the deliberate termination of life (e.g. abortion, euthanasia, etc.) is contrary to scripture.
10. sexually or physically intimate relationships between same sex couples (as defined above) is contrary to scripture.
11. sexually or physically intimate relationships outside of marriage, regardless of gender, are contrary to Holy Scripture.
12. surrogacy is therefore not within the scriptural boundaries of biblically based marriage although adoption is.
Taking Christian marriage seriously:
The implications of these statements are manifold and you should really give them some serious thought.
Sad to say, many couples drift in to marriage. It's easy to see why, but that doesn't make it 'right'.
Marriage remains the traditional, tried and tested cornerstone of a stable society and provides the best environment for bringing up children. However, it's not something to be entered into lightly or without some serious thought and consideration. It is not without its problems.
Marriage is God ordained and it comes with lifetime responsibilities and commitments.
Once entered into, it is meant to be for the lifetime of the couple. The only biblically based exceptions would be infidelity of one of the partners or a failure to consummate the marriage.
Divorce, if things go wrong, is not part of God's general plan, even if there is provision for 'divorce' in civil law.
Marriage is not for everyone, and choosing to remain single is an equally valid choice.
Marriage is rarely what you think it is going to be. 'Happy ever after' takes a lot of effort and time and it isn't 'a right'.
'Marriage' doesn't 'fix' things. We have to do that ourselves.
Marriage is a shared lifetime's 'work in progress' rather than a moment in time that needs no further attention.
No two marriages will be the same and you shouldn't judge your marriage against someone else's. It's God's gift to you and it is unique.
Don't want someone else's marriage or try to be like another couple. You have your own path to tread.
Marriage is still between a man and a woman, and is intended to be for life and for the procreation of children.
The marriage vows, whilst being part aspirational, remain a statement of that fact: - in modern commercial terms you might say 'sold as seen - buyer beware - no returns - no refunds - no guarantees - all sales are final'.
A priest/minister/pastor is not obliged to marry a couple if he or she feel the couple is making an error of judgement or is unprepared or is approaching marriage with wrong intent or coercion is being applied.
The practicalities of marriage.
For those who are getting married I caution both to be aware of the following:
get it right, marriage is heaven,
get it wrong, marriage is hell.
A marriage is conceived well before a wedding, but a wedding does not make a marriage.
Don't expect perfection in your partner. Remember that you are not perfect either. Make allowances, not excuses.
Marriage is not a game and not to be undertaken on a whim of romance. There is a massive difference between 'Love' and 'Lust' and it is easy to confuse the two when in the early years of a relationship.
Great sex (or any other kind) is not a sufficiently good reason for getting married. Marriage is and needs so much more. Don't equate or mistake sex with or for 'love', and loving someone doesn't make them the right person to be married to.
Don't make assumptions either. Two people 'in love' don't automatically think the same about things in life. Ask the obvious questions and be sure about what you are getting yourself into. Communicate.
Getting married and staying married are two very different things.
Marriage is rarely ‘happy ever after’. There will be many ups and downs and marriage isn’t always an easy path.
Marriage is absolutely what you make it or what you let it become. It’s no one else’s fault if it goes wrong, it’s down to you both. It is also not just one person’s fault if it fails. It takes two to fall out and have a row.
Marriage is about relying on your partner and not looking for sympathy elsewhere. It’s your marriage and up to you to sort it out. If you need to go looking elsewhere for 'support and comfort' then you have already betrayed your marriage vows.
Marriage is intended to be totally self-contained.
Marriage is not above receiving some occasional good advice from family and friends, but you should look at their marriages as to determining if their advice is sound or not.
Marriage is not primarily about ‘happiness’. That is something ethereal that is hard to quantify. It is different to different people.
Happiness depends entirely on how you interpret the things that happen to you. An insulin dependent diabetic may bemoan their medical problems but someone in late stage Parkinson’s would happily change place with them. A blind man would happily pay thousands of pounds for new glasses if he could just see again, whereas I doubt you would be happy paying that much, even if they were designer frames.
‘Happiness’, contrary to popular opinion, isn’t ‘a right’ or something to be expected or demanded. You have to work hard for it.
You get what you get and need to make the best of it.
For many people, if they put as much effort into making life work for them rather than expend the huge amounts of effort complaining, life would actually be a lot better for them. Look at what you have rather than what you don't have, and be thankful.
The marriage vows themselves don’t mention ‘happiness’. That is something you have to create for ‘yourselves’ rather than for ’yourself’. It’s a subtle but important difference. Marriage is about ‘us’ not ‘me’.
Marriage is about the other person and their needs. There is no room for selfishness in marriage. Selfishness will destroy families and friendships, and it will destroy marriages just as quickly.
Holding grudges and not letting go of past wrongs is ultimately an act of selfishness.
Constantly bringing other people’s faults and mistakes up is selfish too and it shows a distinct lack of forgiveness. It is also a form of emotional blackmail and control based on creating guilt whilst denying forgiveness.
They are both symptoms and indicators of things going wrong in a marriage and they need to be dealt with. If you don’t deal them they will ultimately destroy what you have.
The bible teaches us that we are not perfect. That would be something we should all remember. We can be wrong, we can make mistakes, and we can misunderstand or misread situations.
Thinking we are right all the time puts us on a par with God, and God we aren’t! If you are not sure about that then try walking on water, calming storms, healing the sick, making the blind to see and raising the dead.
A little humility goes a long way in bringing a failing marriage back from the brink.
This is a lot to consider. If you can't remember it all, at least try to remember these key seven facts about marriage:
1. Get marriage right, it is heaven. Get it wrong, marriage is hell.
2. You can live with people but you can’t always be married to them. Likewise a wedding doesn't make a marriage.
3. Marriage is what you make it or let it become. It is your responsibility, no one else's. Talk to and listen to one another, and be honest to one another and especially to yourself. Treat your partner the way you want to be treated.
4. Divorce is never ‘a fresh start’. There are always consequences that have to be lived with and you can't undo or hide from the past.
5. Marriage is sacrificial, and is much an act of faith as it is of trust. There is no room for selfishness in marriage.
6. 'Love' and 'lust' should never be confused. Being 'in love' is very different from 'loving' someone.
7. Marriage is a calling of God to a sacramental life, between one man and one woman (as defined physically at birth), intended for life, and for the procreation of children.
Having children is not something to rush into either. They don’t fix things, they tend to test things to their limit. If your relationship isn’t secure when you have children they will find every weak spot and use it against you.
Divorce: for the record.
Divorce is not part of God's general plan for marriage although there are some exceptions.
Divorce is rarely the desired 'solve all' solution when things go wrong.
If you think things can't get any worse if your marriage begins to collapse, then getting divorced will usually prove how wrong you could be.
Divorce inevitably is about accusation, fault and blame, and is ultimately an admission of personal failure. There is no such thing as a 'no fault' divorce and proceedings can become extremely vindictive, especially where money and children are involved. The acrimony, bitterness and fall out will usually last long after a divorce and persistently interfere with the development and formation of any new relationships.
Divorce has significant and far reaching consequences for the individuals involved and for society in general.
It is a misconception that you can walk away from marriage (or any long lasting relationship) as if nothing ever happened, and start over. There is nothing further from the truth as the past has consequences that can’t be hidden, wounds that refuse to heal, deep scars that ache and hurts that reappear without being invited. Your previous relationship cannot be totally escaped and it will haunt and shape your new ones. There will be memories, guilt and doubts that just won’t go away. Divorce is rarely the end of the matter or 'final'.
The other thing that people don’t realise is that divorce will divide families and friends, and the ripples of divorce will travel far and wide in ways that can never be anticipated.
Divorce in never just between a husband and wife.
The damage to their children is perhaps the worst kind, particularly in the way it affects their ability to trust. If you can’t trust the people who say they love you then just who can you trust? The effect on their ability to hold and maintain future relationships is significant and lasts a lifetime.
Getting married is a huge responsibility and it is not to be undertaken lightly.
It needs great forethought and a life time’s dedication. The old saying, 'marry in haste, repent at leisure,' still holds true.
A good marriage will allow both husband and wife to flourish equally as a couple and as individuals.
Regrettably, those who seek to take control of their marriage will destroy it - marriage is about 'us' and 'our needs' rather than 'me' and 'my needs'. Marriage has no room for selfishness.
'Happy ever after' is a work in progress and doesn't magically happen on its own. It takes a lot of continued effort and dedication. It is a life time commitment for both partners.
Simply put, marriage is what you make it or let it become and the responsibility lies with you.
The Order of St James (UK)
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