Marriage: To Rejoice Over or to Mourn
by: Deji Yesufu
A friend got married a few days ago and published pictures on social media. I am one of those who had been on his neck to end his bachelorhood and was supposed to have been rejoicing to see those pictures but the first thoughts that came to my mind are the very things I will be sharing in this essay. Instead of writing them on his wall, I simply joined the bandwagon of well-wishers to pray God’s mercies over his home. My honest view is, however, that there are very little reasons to rejoice over marriages; in fact I dare say that when couples marry today, people should be mourning rather than rejoicing. In this essay, I want to suggest a few things that individuals can do to guard against their marriages heading to the rocks.
On face value alone, that the relationship between a man and a woman results in marriage is a reason to celebrate. For us Christians, it assumes that the couple are no longer exposed to the temptations of the world and can find sexual satisfaction between themselves. The institution of marriage also gives opportunity for children to be brought into the world and where these children can be brought up in the godly admonition of Christian parenting. There is also the blessedness of a man loving his wife and protecting her – taking over the responsibility of her parent since the birth of the girl child. Then the man has the opportunity of finding a woman who can love him genuinely, care for him and even mother him. The marriage institution is one created by God and where it functions well, it can be heaven on earth. It is because marriages have become hellish that I wish to share some of my thoughts here. When I see a man and a woman marry today, I no longer know what to think. I neither rejoice nor mourn. The reason is because, in my estimation, most marriages will fail in the long run and these are some of the reasons why I think this to be so.
First. Like most institutions that God created, the marriage institution is to function on a supernatural basis. The natural man cannot operate in a marriage; it will take the supernatural powers of God to operate in it. This is what I mean. I am convinced that only born-again human beings can operate successfully in a marriage. What keeps a home going is the Holy Spirit operating in the man and the wife, instructing both of them individually on what their roles should be in the home. It is the Holy Spirit that births sincere love in the hearts of couples for each other. It is the Holy Spirit that sustains that love. It is the Holy Spirit that provide restraint in times of anger, frustration and crisis. It is the Spirit of Jesus that speaks quietly to the heart of the redeemed and teach us how we should be husbands to our wives and wives to our husbands. Where the individuals involved in a marriage are not born-again, they are only open to the flesh to teach them what they should do and the end result of that home is always disaster.
The real crisis in homes today is not that marriages are not working. The real crisis is the fact that the individuals in a marriage covenant are not born again and thus do not possess the supernatural power they ought to have to operate in a supernatural institution. In some cases, it is the woman that is saved and it is the grace upon that woman that sustains the home all through. In other cases, it is the man. But the consistent testimony of such a home is that the born again individual in the marriage will suffer a great deal until it pleases God to deliver him from his/her sufferings. This is why the number one admonition of the Bible to individuals who are single and are seeking to be married is that they should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. “You must be born again…” is the first admonition to couples. When the Holy Spirit is planted in the hearts of the couples, God will guide them through their marital life. It will not mean that there will not be issues; it will however mean that they will not lack godly wisdom and resources to wade through those issues.
Second. Another reason why I think we should mourn over marriages is because there are very few churches in our world today who are genuinely concerned about propagating and preserving the gospel; and in the process birthing godly individuals to fill the institution of marriage. This problem extends further to the fact that churches that are not gospel centered, will not have the wisdom to counsel couples on how to wade through marital challenges that are sure to come to every home. In fact the almost unanimous counsel that many give to couples is that they should keep their marital problems to themselves and never share it with their pastors. Why? Because the counsel that many churches give these days have only further help divide marriages and not heal them. Many pastors are bereft of godly counsel for couples and it is sad.
The result is that couples are left to handle issues between themselves and many of such issues, some of them very little issues, end up splitting the couples further and further; until they have learnt to live without each other. They are simply husband and wife in name alone; they have long divorced under the roof of the very house they live in. I remember living in a neighborhood where a man owned a mansion with many rooms. The children had left home and the man and wife were left alone in the house. The man lived downstairs and the woman lived upstairs. They had no relationship beyond this. Whatever might have caused this split would very likely had been a small issue but they had no godly influence or authority figure over them to direct them on what to do. Or, maybe they did and refused the counsel. When crisis hit a marriage and the couple cannot listen to each other, the church leadership should be able to step in with godly counsel and use some of their authority to compel the parties involved to carry out their responsibilities. But where the churches have become a den of thieves: where the pastor is only interested in enriching himself and to show to his pastor colleagues that he has arrived, marriages will begin to shrivel and die under him and he will not even know it. Many marriages are failing because couples lack godly authorities over them to guide them in times of misunderstanding or crisis.
Third. Another reason to mourn over marriages is because men and women entering into marriages are failing to realize what their responsibilities should be in the home. In many homes today, money is the determining factor of all that is done. The person who earns the most between man and wife, makes the decisions. Money is the determining factor for raising children, career pursuits, where they live and even sex. Some marriages have deteriorated to the point that the man has to pay his wife to sleep with her!
The underlying assumption in this essay is that I am speaking to Christian men and women. Thus my hope is that the reader will understand my worldview which is most certainly biblical. The Christian marriage is one where the man is the head of the home. It is the man’s responsibility to lead. It is hoped that the man possesses the resources to lead his home but where it turns out to be that it is the woman that makes more money between the two, the Christian woman must be made to understand that it is the man that has the final say on how money is to be spent in the home. I counsel that Christian couples own a joint account. I propose that the spending of money should be jointly discussed and the man lead in the decision on how money is to be spent. Where there are cases of abuses of the resources in the home by the man, the woman must bring the matter to the leadership of the church and the man must be commanded to the right thing. Where he fails, he would be put on church discipline. If he leaves the church, the leadership should guide the woman on how she will get a separate account and own her money.
The woman in a Christian marriage should submit to her husband and follow his instructions. The Christian woman must be given to prayer and know that her husband’s direction in life could maim the direction that she and her children will go, so she needs to really pray. Finally, Christian couples should pray together.
It is because these elements of false conversion, lack of a healthy church and lack of a biblical understanding of roles in the marriages, are so rampant in our society; this is the reason I say that most marriages will fail in the long run. Many couples are living for the public in their own homes. If they had their way, they will wish they were either divorced or the other partner was dead. Others have taken to the liberties that many assume in western societies where divorce rates are at the heights. The marriage institution will work if a couple will be committed to it according to the Christian worldview and according to the dictates of the Bible. The other option is for couples to spend millions in one day rejoicing at a wedding ceremony and to use the rest of their lives mourning and wishing they had never entered into marriage.