PASTOR'S PEN: A good marriage

By Pastor Robert Sponable

Lake Community Bible Church

February 14 is Valentine’s Day, that special day for sweethearts.

For the last few years, my wife, Nancy, and I have been in Florida with friends during February. That’s been good for several reasons: warm weather, great times with old friends, Super Bowl Sunday and affording my friends and I the opportunity to remind each other to get something for our sweethearts for Valentine’s Day.

One year, one of those friends and I remembered at the last minute and stopped at a gas station two blocks from home and bought really cool (we thought so) wooden red roses for our wives from a guy selling them out of the trunk of his car.

Nancy (my valentine), and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary in October this past year. Wow, 50 years! I’ve known couples who’ve celebrated more than 60 years together, and I think that is great, but 50 years is still pretty special in this day and age.

When I shared that information a few days ago with a man, he asked, "what’s the secret to your  long marriage?" Since he seemed sincere, I gave the following explanation. I told him God was the third party in our marriage. In Ecclesiastes 4:12 we read "…a cord of  three strands is not quickly torn apart."

When Nancy and I determined that we were God’s choice for each other and believed that we could serve God more effectively as a team rather than remaining single, we chose to obey Him, and marry. We were like the majority of newlyweds: naïve’, broke, undisciplined, filled with unrealistic expectations, selfish, but "in love."

In spite of all our shortcomings and inconsistencies, we each had a strong abiding conviction that our marriage was God’s will, that He was present in our lives, and that,  as long as we were faithful to our commitment and marriage covenant, and surrendered to Him,  He, as the third strand, would hold us together.

We also came to realize a very important Biblical principle. I discovered it while studying some  pre-marital counselling material (I’ve forgotten the author). The principle is: "a good marriage makes for love," rather than the popular idea that "love makes for a good marriage."

Let me explain: 99.9 percent of all couples enter marriage "loving" each other. But something  happens after a few years, or in some marriages even a few months. One, or both of them, come to me or a counselor and say "I/we don’t ‘love’ each other anymore. What happened?"

They lost those loving feelings, and so the marriage is no longer secure; it isn’t a "good  marriage."   I discovered when Nancy and I were committed to a "good marriage" (i.e. doing it God’s way, since He is the inventor of the family (Genesis 2:18­24), our love began to grow again.

God’s blueprint for a "good marriage" is found in His instruction book, the Bible (Ephesians  5:22-­33; Colossians 18­4:1; I Corinthians 11:2­3; I Peter 3:1­7).  There we discover how to be a  good husband and father, wife and mother, and children.  It is in this "good marriage" environment that love is nurtured and can grow and mature to the potential God has for each of us. Thus, indeed, "a good marriage" (doing it God’s way, obedience to His Word), makes for love.

This instruction is for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:13; I John 5:11­13), experienced the saving Grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and are filled, or controlled by God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18),  enabling them to have the desire and power to obey God. I’ve experienced it firsthand in our marriage.

It’s obvious I haven’t perfected it, as was  evidenced by the anniversary cards we received "congratulating" me and offering their  "condolences" to Nancy, but the love we now share is so much better than what we had when  we were first married!

... oh, and a word to you men, don’t get your "valentine" wooden roses.