“The chain of wedlock is so heavy that it takes two to carry it
– and sometimes three.” – Heraclitus
WEDLOCK – is the state of being married; to be closely combined or linked. Wedlock sometimes feels as uneasy as it sounds. From the late Old English wedlac or marriage vow, wed actually means to pledge. A pledge is a solemn promise or undertaking. In marriage, we pledge our commitment to a single person: for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health, forsaking all others, until death us do part. In the old fashioned version, we vow, “I plight thee my troth,” or I pledge to you my faithfulness. We are basically locking ourselves into a pledge that we often make during a much happier time of blissful courtship. Dave Willis said,“Your marriage vows are the most important in those moments when they are most difficult to keep.” Sadly, half of our country prepares for the wedding and not for the marriage – the locking part – and ends up in divorce.
God is serious about marriage because it reflects the mystery of Christ and the Church. This is clearly expressed in Ephesians 5:21-33, where Paul describes the concept of mutual submission alongside the Biblical headship of the husband as the familial leader. This leadership however, is to look like Christ’s sacrificial love for His Church, which is a tall order. Not only is the husband to love his wife as he loves himself, but he is to nourish and cherish her as Christ cares for His Body. Jesus literally suffered, bled and died for us…that’s a hard act to follow. Christ’s indescribable love is why we voluntarily surrender our lives to Him. His passion for us and willingness to go to the greatest lengths to express it is never in question. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Experiencing and comprehending the height, width, and depth of this kind of love (Eph. 3:18) leads us to worship Him. A husband representing God’s love in marriage warrants his wife’s reverence and respect. (Eph. 5:33)
The ‘lock’ part of wedlock is as important as the ‘wed’ part. We fear we cannot count on our spouses (or sometimes ourselves) to keep the vows we made before God and witnesses. Will they stay locked in when we reveal our true selves, as we grow older, become less attractive, or fall upon hard times? In the Old Testament, men could divorce their wives for any reason. Jesus revealed God’s original intent for marriage, “Haven’t you read,” He replied,
“that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6) “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (vs. 8-9) That’s pretty serious. “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (Malachi 2:16) It is NOT that God hates people who divorce; God loves all of us. It’s that the tearing and scarring that divorce brings does not reflect the love of Christ that marriage was to reveal. This is a great reminder for those of us who are married, are courting, or desire to be married one day. Be prepared not just for the wedding, but for the lifelong yoke of a conjugal bond.
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