Marriage Rites and Rules
A Scripture Study On The Rules and Requirements For A Successful, Happy Marriage
In June, my wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Since about half of all marriages now end in divorce, what is our secret to lasting happiness? As I often like to say, we are soul-mates, very similar in our nature, beliefs, likes and habits. That has been immensely helpful to us, and it is not an accident that we are so similar. After being fortunate to have a conservative Biblical-based upbringing, she had joined the church that I pastored and was steeped in my sermons!
I think marriage is an important subject, especially these days, and a few recent articles in mainstream media offer very good advice for young people contemplating marriage. A Wall Street Journal report, “Rules for a Happy Life” (3-30-14, C1) concludes the more you have in common with a spouse, the greater the likelihood of marital happiness. That suggestion should not be a shock to anyone, and yet far too many people marry for superficial reasons such as looks alone, or they rush to the altar with whomever they happen to find who is eligible at the moment they desire marriage. The article listed quite a number of areas that matter to happiness in a marriage according to the study; of course, the two big items are politics and religion, but there was much more. The article presented such things as musical inclinations, interior design styles, color preferences, and food likings. That may sound like a tall order, yet our young people need to know that marrying someone with a similar background, beliefs, and tastes does indeed improve the chances for a happy and successful marriage.
You might never even think of some of the “happy marriage” items that were listed in the Journal article. For example, the time of day that you like to do your shopping was a humorous head-scratcher for me. That would not have been my first question on a date!
Those who marry for money should take the advice of billionaire music and film producer, David Geffen, “Show me someone who thinks that money buys happiness, and I’ll show you someone who has never had a lot of money.” No, money doesn’t buy happiness, as witnessed by the rich but divorced athletes and movie stars, who often divorce multiple times.
Julie and I both tend to be very strong-willed individuals. Such a combination could easily spell conflict and trouble for a marriage. Yet we live pretty much a serene, happy life together. In thinking about it, we have so much in common that there really is not a lot that we could argue about. The Bible has much to say about marriage. “He who has found a wife has found good, and receives favor from ???? .” (Proverbs 18:22; all scripture quotes from The Scriptures Version) I will attest that a good marriage is one of the best things that can ever happen to you.
The apostle Paul offers good advice for Bet Yeshurun Assembly (BYA), “If I speak with the tongues of men and of messengers, but do not have love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all secrets and all knowledge, and if I have all belief, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am none at all.” (I Corinthians 13:1-2) Yes, the faith to move mountains is nothing without love.
Yah gives BYA these warnings through His prophet, “Trust no friend. Rely on no companion. Guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom.” (Micah 7:5) Be careful what you say! It is not a good habit to be going around telling everyone their supposed faults, especially one’s wife! And, heed this apostle, “Above all, have fervent love for one another, because love covers a great number of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) To this the Amplified Bible adds, “Forgive and disregard the offenses of others.” This ancient saying concurs, “Hatred stirs up strife. But love covers all transgressions.” (Proverbs 10:12) If we love one another, we will forgive their transgressions against us.
Another apostle of Yahushuah wisely advises us, “By this we have known love, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers … My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16,18) We should show our love and faithfulness in Yahushuah ha’Mashiach by our actions and our lifestyle.
On many of the hot button issues of our day, we find ourselves at odds not only with the ungodly but also with a growing number of Christians (in name) who criticize, or think we are hateful for upholding Scriptural moral values. “Yahushuah answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he shall guard My Word. And My Father shall love him, and We shall come to him and make Our stay with him. He who does not love Me does not guard My Words. And the Word which you hear is not Mine but of the Father who sent Me.” (John 14:23-24) Obedience to Elohim is sometimes hard, and often politically incorrect, but it is the truest love, although hated by the world!
Sam Roberts wrote an article for the New York Times entitled, “To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered.” Yes, he’s correct, less than half of American households are married now, a steady decline from the past. The U.S. Census Bureau published an American Community Survey that indicates less than half of the nation’s households (49.7% or 55.2 million families in 2005) were comprised of married couples. A growing number of children are brought up in one-parent households, which is neither easy for the parent nor beneficial for the children. In addition, there is growing “peer pressure” now that encourages young people to simply move in together without the benefit of a stable marriage. There was a moral time not so long ago in which this was referred to as “living in sin.”
In his newly released book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Do’s and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living A Good Life” (Random House), American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray has much to say about marriage. He suggests people marry young because there’s a “symbiosis, where two people become more than the sum of the individuals.” Couples who made their way together in life have a set of shared experiences and are satisfied to know “that you wouldn’t have become the person you are without the other.” Murray, too, advises marrying someone similar to yourself, and that if “you think that you can change your beloved after you’re married, you’re wrong.”
To this, I will add that sometimes, that it’s a very good thing that I can’t change my beloved! I am glad that Julie is still so much the girl I fell in love with. Over thirty years, we have been through so much together, and I have appreciated her standing by my side.
As a loving father, I can only hope, encourage, and pray that Elohim will lead and guide Sarah, our young daughter, in the major decisions of her life. Above all, I pray that in the declining moral and spiritual atmosphere we see today that we all realize the importance of being loving, guiding moral lights to our own children and to the younger generation. Shalom! -J.S. Brooks
Thoughts for Meditation
“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.” Albert Einstein
“God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than any other slackers.”
C. S. Lewis
“A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart. H. Pryor
“If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” Lewis Carroll