Seeds of Promise Series by Shenica Graham
Maximizing Ministry Part VI
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WHAT IS MARRIAGE?
Popular culture celebrates the ceremony, or the ritual of marriage. This mode is most closely related to “what” happens (as opposed to the reason why) in a marriage. It is this line of questioning that should be secondary, although it seems to drive conversation.
Marriage is not a cure for loneliness, or depression, or financial woes, or anything else. When marriage is seen as a cure, it is thus portrayed as infallible. If something is a cure, then its implementation means that what was cured should not be able to afflict the cured couple. The result of viewing marriage as a cure is that when financial problems, depression, loneliness or other “cured” ailments reappear, the marriage is blamed – because the cure failed.
Marriage should consist of two whole people. One of the greatest misconceptions about Christian marriage is that it is a rib-binding ceremony. That is to say, it is often portrayed as the culmination of a male finding his rib, who becomes a whole person after having it restored through marriage. The problem is not the concept of a rib in relationship to the body – that it is protected by the surrounding parts. The problem is emphasis on a person not being whole until and unless he or she is married. Many marriages fail because of this lack of pre-marriage “wholeness.”
Proverbs 18:22 reads, Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. It is vital to note that the “wife” in this reference is found. Thus, she existed as a wife – having the character of a wife, before she was found. This means that getting married does not automatically make her the wife whose presence gives favor. Because many women are married before they develop the character of the “wife” God wants them to be, they may become a wife after they are married. Furthermore, a woman may become a wife – that is, exhibit the qualities and character of a wife, after she is no longer married, as may be the case after she experiences divorce.
How can a man become a husband or a woman become a wife without being married? This can be derived from Isaiah 54:5 (KJV). “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” This is a concept that for lack of teaching, leaves many seeking relationships before their time, beyond what God intends to be their “first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Our first love was never intended to be the high school crush we may have had, or something similar. The first love of every human being is supposed to be God. When we love God first according to His will, we are completing our “whole” selves. God wants people to experience Agape love, before marriage. Lack of understanding for this order of affection is the most probable cause of broken marriages. Other affects such as infidelity, lack of trust, selfishness, anger and related symptoms often cited for incompatibility are manifestations, not causes of this fact.
Christians believe that at some point in every person’s life, he or she seeks to fill a personal void. Choices at that crossroad effect him or her eternally. God does not intend for people to wait until they are on a bed of affliction, or until they have been emotionally wounded, to answer that call to wholeness- though He still answers prayer (Psalm 51:17). He intends for us to grow up with Him; and be made whole (Mark 6:56).