Does Marriage Mean Anything?

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“Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Hebrews 13:4).

During a recent conversation I was challenged by the statement, “Marriage doesn’t mean anything. It’s a piece of paper. It actually takes more commitment to live with someone than it does to marry them. I’d rather know I’m committed to that person because everyday I choose to stay, rather than having a contract that forces me to stay.”

There are so many things wrong with this statement that it’s hard to know where to begin.

  • Marriage is a formal arrangement between a man and woman that they are committed to one another for life.
  • Marriage is the second highest way that love can be expressed. The first is dying for someone. Marriage is living for someone, committing to that in a legal way.
  • Marriage is not a piece of paper. It is a religious rite in which the man and the woman commit themselves to one another with God as witness. If the marriage goes wrong, God is witness, and God will avenge.
  • The “contract,” if we can call it that, is actually a meaningful expression of love, more so than living together. You are being willingly bound to another person in a legal way. You are willing to commit to the other person you love in a way that binds you until death; and there are consequences for abandoning that commitment. 
  • Many people look for a partner who can make them happy. Marriages under this arrangement have a higher chance of failure. This is also true with living together. But if your hope is to make someone else happy, then your marriage stands a better chance of surviving.

Jesus said the greatest act of love is to die for another (John 15:13). But what is the second greatest act of love? I believe it is marriage. Marriage tells another you will live for them for your entire life, and you bind yourself to fulfill that promise in a legal way. One dies for love. One lives for love. Other romantic relationships do not attain this height. Living together falls short since it has no lifelong commitment in either a ceremonial or legal way, and you can get an easy out. The boyfriend/girlfriend scenario falls short even of that. Even loving children comes in a distant third. Why? Because though we love our children for life, they will eventually move on and in many cases devote themselves to the love of another.

Marriage is far more than a piece of paper. It is a holy thing and we should treat it as such. 

Memory Verse

“Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Hebrews 13:4).

Application

If you are married, express to your spouse how important they are to you and that you want to spend your life on his or her happiness. If you are not married and hoping to find someone, consider searching not for someone to make you happy, but how you can make someone else happy.

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