The Naked Truth about Marriage

December 5th, 2010 by azweddingpastors Leave a reply »

 This week I read a Time Magazine article with a title that asked the question: “Who Needs Marriage?”. Its author, Belinda Luscombe cited a poll that Time & Pew Research [ii]conducted this fall from which they concluded that “marriage, whatever its social, spiritual or symbolic appeal is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be. Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children-yet marriage remains revered and desired.” So why do people choose to get married if they can “enjoy the milk without buying the cow?

 Recently, in helping couples craft their wedding ceremonies I’ve noticed a trend that I believe sheds light on why couples choose marriage over cohabitation. By far one of the most popular wedding readings selected by couples for use in their wedding ceremonies conducted by Arizona Wedding Pastors is titled, These Hands:

 These Hands 

“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

 

These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

 

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

 

These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

 

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.

 

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.

 

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

 

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch—a touch from these hands.”  [iii]

 

What does this reading reveal about the aspirations of men and women? Marriage, while flawed by the respective limitations and imperfections of the individuals who enter the relationship, offers to couples the hope that their mutual commitment to one another will enable them to build a life together that will be life-giving for them even during hard times. And while couples don’t have to look far for examples of others whose marriages didn’t last they are inspired by the prospect that their relationship will be one where they will  enjoy the comfort of knowing another person intimately and being known and appreciated for who they are.

While some balk at the idea of being restrained by the obligations that marriage brings into their lives others recognize that their deepest hopes and dreams can only be met through life-long commitment. And here’s what motivates me to champion the cause of marriage: There is actually a long track record of evidence to support the claim that marriage is the most life-giving relationship on the planet!  According to Maggie Gallagher, co-author of the book The Case for Marriage”, “In virtually every way that social scientists can measure, married people do much better than the unmarried or divorced: they live longer, healthier, happier, sexier, and more affluent lives.”[iv]  Did you grasp that?! There are HUGE advantages to being married! Why would anyone settle for the crumbs of cohabitation when there is a banquet of life-enhancing emotional, physical and psychological nourishment to be found in marriage?!

The Origins of Marriage

As a non-denominational wedding officiant I don’t require couples to share my faith but choose instead to treat every couple who comes to me with the same respect and dignity I would want for myself. [v] Today’s marriable couples come to me from across the spiritual spectrum and I serve them with deep joy knowing that marriage was the Creator’s idea and apparently something that He is particularly fond of. If one reads the Genesis account of creation you will notice a pattern in which after God acts to bring something into existence the commentary is that “it was good”. [vi]  Six different times you will find this statement followed by an overall summary that “it was very good”! The sheer repetition of this phrase emphasizes that God felt positive about what He had orchestrated. Then, however, in stark contrast to this sevenfold emphasis on the goodness of what had been made, God reveals to Adam, through his encounters with the diverse species of animals, that “it is not good for Man to be alone”.[vii] What follows is the description of God’s intervention to address Adam’s isolation by the forming of the woman –an indispensible partner, uniquely designed to meet the man’s needs. (See my blog “Acknowledging the Giver in the Gift Your Spouse” for more on this). I love the record of the man and woman’s introduction to one another:  “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”.[viii]  Men and women are drawn to commit themselves to one another in marriage because by making this relationship offers the hope-filled prospect of connecting with another human being on a deep, intimate level.

So Who needs Marriage? 

The naked truth is most men and women have a God-given, felt-need for a close, intimate and enduring relationship with the opposite gender. The institution of marriage helps couples by calling them to make a commitment to exclusively devote themselves to one another. Unlike Adam and Eve before the Fall, we bring to our marriages personal and familial baggage and behavior patterns that complicate our relationships. While I don’t require premarital counseling to those who come to me for my Officiant services, let me make a “shame”-less plug (pun intended) for the tools I do use to equip those who want to gain better relational skills such as conflict resolution, open & candid communication, how to talk about money, sex and the in-laws. We really do want to help couples “Turn ‘I Do’ into ‘Happily Ever After’ ” and The Prepare-Enrich Inventory [ix]is a great resource to do this.  

We Need Marriage!

While some want to redefine marriage or down-play its significance we can rest assured that this time-honored institution will continue to provide fulfillment, security and many other life-giving benefits to the men and women who choose to enter it and continue to invest their time and energy in making their marriage a success!


[i]  Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution, Time Magazine, November 18, 2010 (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2031962,00.html)

[ii]   The Decline of Marriage And Rise of New Families

By Pew Social Trends Staff, November 18, 2010

( http://pewsocialtrends.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and-rise-of-new-families)

[iii]  These Hands, Author Unknown

[iv] Quote from the article: http://www.city-journal.org/html/10_4_why_marriage_is.html

The Case for Marriage, Linda J. Waite, Maggie Gallagher, Random House, Inc., 2001

[v] ““So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (www.biblegateway.com)

[vi]  Genesis 1:3; 1:10; 1:12; 1:18; 1:21; 1:25; 1:31.

[vii] See Genesis 2:18-20 for the Biblical context of this expression

[viii] Genesis 2:21-25

[ix] Prepare – Enrich by Life Innovations, Inc (https://www.prepare-enrich.com)

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