There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
What’s the big deal about marriage? I have been challenged by that question five times this week by five different people. The first was a middle-aged man who asked me why young people were afraid of marriage. The second was a girl I was with in a bus. I was from my workplace heading to the city when the girl asked me why I got married young. The third was a pal I met in town who asked me if marriage is working. The fourth was a working lady who asked me why I didn’t pursue my Master’s degree first before getting married. The fifth was a phone call from a popular media house in Nairobi city called KTN.
As I left work to go for an errand in the CBD, I happened to sit next to a girl who used to be in my fellowship group at Church. She seemed to have been waiting for this opportunity since I got married. The traffic offered the perfect opportunity to ask me many questions. All that she asked can be summarized in this “Why did you get married, Ernest?” She not only wanted to know why I got married but also why I got married young, immediately after campus. The idea for my decision to marry Waturi was one thing. The idea for her to say yes was a whole different ball game. 22 year-olds planning a wedding and marriage! What was going on here? What gives? A day later, I got a call from a media presenter at KTN Television station. We shared a mutual friend who had told her all about his friend who got married at 23. This was too incredible for her to believe. She saw a possible scoop and called me. The interrogation began.
- So you got married at 23?
- Yes, I did.
- Do you want the long story of the short story?
- I’ll give you the short. We had dated for three years. We did not see it healthy to date for too long. We loved each other and wanted to be together, so we planned our wedding.
- Wow! Okay. So, do you have a kid?
- No, not yet.
- What! You don’t?
- No kids yet?
- I mean, I’m 24 and you’re 23… how old are you guys?
- We’re the same age.
- You know what, I am going to give you another call pretty soon, once I have a word with my boss.
Marriage seems to be a rarer institution by the year. We have many young people in their early thirties and late twenties who express no interest whatsoever. The girl I conversed with in the bus wanted to get married at 40. I asked her why. She said that her parents suffered a terrible divorce and that showed her that marriages don’t work. I then asked her a series of questions that I submit to you today. We discussed these with her and I was pleased to hear her say that after so many years of being against marriage, she now has a glimmer of hope for getting married…sooner than 40. I hope these questions together with the tackling will be of help to anyone reading them.
1) Have you considered where marriages came from?
Who invented marriage? We live in a generation that is itching for the stuff it wants to hear and allergic to what it needs to listen to. I commend us on our indulgence on various views but our applause dies in our fickle stand on an absolute, based mainly on our feelings. In short we are very truth-intolerant. I could tell you that marriage is a social construct developed by the need for humanity to increase in popularity and adapt for survival on this earth. All the Darwinists and sociologists will say AMEN! Or I could tell you that marriage is a tool for religion to tie down men and women to submit to its rules and regulations by encroaching into their social lifestyles. And all the liberalists will say AMEN! Or I could tell you that marriage is a fool’s errand in a hope to find true love that never exists and that ultimately binds the duo and leaves them in a regrettable state. And all the people with degrees from Universities will say AMEN! Those are the things we want to hear aren’t they? Those opinions that many hold sacred today remind me of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. In response to philosophical Horatio, Hamlet states, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” You need to understand that there is much more that exists than you know. And that is conceived from the moment we believe that beyond our tiny ball of rock of mud and salty water in outer space, we are not the centre of the universe. Stars transcend light years beyond our imaginations. Galaxies traverse beyond the creativity of human minds. The universe expands beyond the fathom of human reasoning and it is not a big bang accident. And if it is, there’s something or someone behind it. A living powerful God is in the centre of everything. He is the genesis of everything. He is the cause of everything, He is the beginning and the end, the precious, unimaginable divinity that holds all things together and from whom all things come from…including marriage. Marriage is a God concept. And beyond the less than 100 years that you have spent on the earth, have the guts to admit that there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Marriage was invented by God. That question draws us to the second.
2) Is marriage that important? Can’t we do without it?
A world without marriage is not a good world. If you read Genesis chapter 1 and 2, you will witness a world that was untainted by sin. It was a perfect world. When you read Genesis chapter 3, you witness the introduction of sin into this world. In the perfect world, we can draw out many things that existed in it. One of them lies in Genesis 2:25, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”It is overtly stated that before the world was imperfect, the only human relationship that existed was a marriage relationship. It says the man and his wife, not the man and his best friend or the man and his girlfriend or the man and his fiancée. It says the man and his wife. It wasn’t a father-daughter relationship. It wasn’t a mother-son relationship. It definitely wasn’t a dating relationship. It was a marriage relationship. And God said it was good! In fact, when the world existed in a perfect state without marriage, God said in Genesis 2:18a “It is not good for man to be alone…” A world for humanity without marriage in God’s eyes is called “not good.” God decrees the importance of marriages. A world without it is not good. A world with it is good. What’s good about it? A marriage in God’s format brings some of the following good things: family, children, friendship, sexual satisfaction, emotional gratification and dependence on God. You ask, Ernest can’t we get some of those things outside marriage? Yes we can. We can get things like children and sexual satisfaction outside marriage. But if we get them outside marriage, will it still be good? Will God still look and say it is good? Will we find out that we just dug a hole to fill another? God isn’t just interested in the end. The means is equally important. God said it was good as He placed it. I put it to you boldly that any other way is not good. So if God authored marriage and that marriage before the fall of man was good, why is it so terrible today? This leads to our third question.
3) Why are there bad marriages?
Sin entered the world and dislodged us from the harmonious relationship we had with God our Creator. We tried to get it back but even our most moral deeds couldn’t bridge the gap that our sin created. Yes, our sins were/are that bad. To bridge the gap required a god! So God took up the job. God fought for us back. He fought for us so hard to the point that he shed blood. He became as one of us and took the punishment for our fall so that the original plan of Genesis 1 and 2 could be restored. Jesus came to restore original creation. As he was on earth doing that job, he wanted to show us how much he loves us. So he gave us an example of what his love for us is like. He demonstrated in his word that he is the groom and we are the bride (John 3:29).He used marriage as the example of his love for you! Why would he use such an example in a world full of divorces, broken homes and failing marriages? Why not say I am your parent and you are my child? That’s loving, right? Why the example of a marriage? I’ll tell you why. It’s because He knows what a good marriage looks like. He saw it in Genesis 1 and 2. He saw the spiritual intimacy of Adam and Eve in the presence of God. He saw that the husband had his eye and desire for only his wife, Eve. He saw that Eve respected her husband Adam and called him lord. He saw the friendship and laughter that they shared. He saw the tenderness of Adam in holding Eve gently and he saw the willingness of Eve to be vulnerable to her man. He saw the heart melting emotional union and soul-oneness in the eternal friendship between Adam and Eve. He also saw the sexual enrapturing of their bodies in delight and pleasure to give themselves to each other in the process of lovemaking. He saw them derive joy in their Creator before they derived joy from each other. He saw patience in speech, intention and action. He saw kindness and goodness in their humility towards God and towards each other. He saw faithfulness that did not demand reward. He saw truth expressed in gentleness. And he saw self-control in staying away from the forbidden fruit. God saw a marriage operate at optimum. And possibly because a marriage was the highlight of perfection in the relationship that he created, God said we are his bride and he is our groom.
Then the devil came along. That rebellious angel called Lucifer came in Chapter 3. You kinda wish he came in chapter 17 or in Exodus. That way, we would see more examples of this perfect, good, satisfying marriage. Lucifer tempted the woman who led the man astray and thus ruined everything good…including marriage. There was a curse inflicted in marriage. In Genesis 3:16 we see one of the curses as pain during childbirth and a woman’s disabling desire for her man and having that desire unfulfilled with a man that rules over the woman. We see in v17 marriage ruined by making the man a frustrated individual who works hard but doesn’t reap for what he has toiled for. The first good marriage was also the first bad marriage and it is because of our sinfulness. So, since we are naturally sinful, are all marriages destined to be bad? This brings us to the fourth question.
4) Are all marriages destined to be bad?
The answer is yes. All marriages on earth are destined to be bad but there is a cure for that fatal destiny. There’s an antidote for that horrible fate. That brings our next question.
5) Is there a cure for bad marriages/ potentially bad marriages?
The answer is yes. 1 John 3:8b says “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Lucifer A.K.A Satan ruined the plan for marriage but God decided to redeem that plan. The curses inflicted on mankind because of our sin needed to be reversed. Marriages needed to go back to the way they originally were. Together with that, Jesus came to make afresh the new relationships. There were no father-son, mother-daughter, cousin-cousin etc relationships in the perfect world. So Jesus purposed to make them all reconciled to a good plan.
Colossians 1:19-20a For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus) and through him to reconcile to himself all things (including marriage and all broken relationships) [Parentheses are my own]
So how did Jesus do this? How did he reconcile all things, including marriage, to himself? Colossians 1:20b…by making peace through his blood shed on the cross. Christ appeased God’s desire to punish sin by becoming that punishment for us. The cure for any bad marriage or any potentially-bad marriage is the Son of God Jesus Christ who came to destroy the devil’s work. That begs the inevitable question.
6) Are you saying that there are no good marriages outside Christ?
No. There are good marriages outside Christ. But they are only good as far as your definition of good exists. As far as God defined good in Genesis 2:18, those marriages are far from his definition of good. They may be good in human terms but remember you can’t call a vehicle fixed if the manufacturer says it is broken. If you experience a marriage inside Christ, it’s different. Anything outside Christ may be “good” because things are working like clockwork and there is a sense of happiness and there is no infidelity and there are no heated quarrels. However, I assure you there is a lot more that that marriage could be. It could be much, much more with Christ in the picture. That kind of marriage is safe. It is operating on a 9/10 score. However, what you realise once you are in Christ, is that Christ doesn’t give10/10 scores. He instead ups the scale to 20, and then he helps you score. Once you’re in Christ, the MAX point is a 20. In the world, the MAX point is a 10. A marriage in Christ may score 13/20. In comparison to a marriage outside Christ that scores 9/10, it’s easy to think that the marriage in Christ is not doing well. However if I offered you satisfaction at point 9 and then offered you satisfaction at point 13, what would you choose? Let me advise you. Go for the 13. For starters, it’s greater than the 9. You are experiencing a fulfilment that is so unique that the other person can never attain even if he hits his max i.e. 10. If he does attain it, he/she will get fulfilment at 10. They’ve reached the max. They know nothing more than 10. But you do, don’t you? You may be low at 13/20 but are you willing to increase your score in marriage? Would you prefer a 17/20 or a 10/10. My advice, go for the 17. You may not fill it to capacity because God’s standards are too high to fill it, but God will fill it up for you by his grace and not by your good deeds and moral works. Are you living in a marriage at scale 10? Christ wants to up the scale for you. Give your life to him and you will find out that there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in a 9/10 good marriage without Christ. There is more fulfilment that your spouse cannot give; only Christ can give.
If you’re in the 20 scale and you’re scoring something like a dismal 4/20 in your marriage, take heart. You’re worried that you’re a believer and your spouse is a believer too but even the marriages of the world seem better than yours. Take heart. Without Christ, you’d be at 0/20! Thank God for the 4/20 and go to your Maker. Christ is still in the process of restoring original creation. Submit your marriage to him. Tell him of how you’re tired of the 4/20 and how you desire a 20/20. Christ will begin by restoring first creation in you. He will show you the pride and sin in your heart that kills your marriage. Work on that area. You first, your spouse second. Don’t try changing them first. You’ve probably tried that and it hasn’t worked, right? The work of changing our spouses is beyond our pay grade. That’s a god-sized job! Your task is to pray passionately for them. The one at 13 out of 20 didn’t get there because he is so damn good. Christ elevated him because of his humility. You will be surprised to hear that there are marriages at 18/20 today. Humility got them there. Proverbs 18:12b Humility comes before honour.
7) Must everyone be married? Is there an alternative to marriage?
Is there an alternative to marriage? Yes. Singlehood. Must everyone be married? No, not everyone must be married. The Bible elevates marriage by saying It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18a) but at the same it time tells us that It is good for a man NOT to marry (1 Corinthians 7:1b). Is God contradicting himself? No, he is not. There is a context for saying It is good for man not to marry. That context and reference is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. In 1stCorinthians 7, God says it is good for a man NOT to marry if he is devoted to the work of God so that he may not be distracted. However, God says clearly in 1 Corinthians 7:6 that it is not a command but an allowance/concession. I say this as a concession, not as a command. Why does God give an allowance not to marry but doesn’t force anyone to be like that? Why? It is because of something common in our world. 1 Corinthians 7:2a But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife. It is because of lust that God says it as a concession. Lust does not respect the fact that you have a calling to minister. It will attack you and threaten your sexuality. Therefore God gives a solution to help fight lust. He says that men should marry their own wife (note the singularity). One wife. A man and woman’s devotion to their spouse will keep them busy against lust. It won’t guarantee it but it will give them an upper hand. Marriage doesn’t solve lust, it only gives the player a stronger fighting chance. God is saying something pertinent here. He says, yes you can remain single. He says yes you don’t have to be married. But he says don’t you dare be sexually immoral in your unmarried state. Paul the Apostle whom God used to write 1st Corinthians didn’t marry but lived a life of sexual purity up to death. God is setting a standard and a context here. He says if you choose to be single, then among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3). He is a holy God and will not stand it. Sexual purity applies to the married as well. Severally God says to be faithful to your spouse and to flee sexual immorality. (Proverbs 5:15-20, 1st Thessalonians 4:3, 1st Corinthians 6:18-19). However, God says celibacy and avoidance of marriage is not up to simple human preference. He says in 1st Corinthians 7:17“Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.” God has given grace to some people not to marry and be sexually pure till death. To some, that grace isn’t available. Do you have that grace? Or are you reacting to your parents’ failed marriage by saying you will marry at 40? Will you maintain absolute sexual purity until 40? Will any man/ woman want to marry you at 40? If they do, will it be for you as God desires or will it be for your money? If it’s for your money, you will only assist the devil undo what Christ is doing in restoring marriages. There is an alternative to marriage but it must honour your Creator. Which brings us to the next question.
8) Is sexual purity important?
Is Paris Hilton Rich? Next question.
9) Why are marriages hard?
Marriages are hard because they are the example God uses to demonstrate the love he has for us. Principally, they are hard because there is someone who is against that plan. That someone is Lucifer. As long as Lucifer prowls the earth seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), marriages will be under attack. Why specifically marriages? Why not mother-daughter relationships? I’ll tell you why. Read this familiar passage with me.
Ephesians 5:22-27 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
You want to know why marriages are hard? It’s because the world has taught us that submission is a bad word. Because the world has told man that he is better than woman and he therefore doesn’t need her, yet God says a woman complements a man. Because the world is telling us how marriages should be with its philosophies of the devil and it’s not working. Because the devil is behind the powers of this world and men and women have attained college degrees and become too smart to see it. Higher education, lower faith. Because the devil knows if you have a marriage that mirrors Ephesians 5:22-27, the love of God will be seen and thus the love of God will be spread and people will turn from their own ways and desire God. Because Ephesians 5:22-27 can show us a concept of holiness that the enemy does not want us to see. Because if a marriage that mirrors Ephesians 5:22-27 succeeds, then the children born in that marriage will grow up knowing that marriages do work and that they too will make it work for the glory of Jesus Christ. That will translate into an upright and mostly godly society.
A working marriage is the most powerful evangelical tool. It’s more powerful than a sermon. It’s more powerful than a play and it’s more powerful than a crusade. A working marriage is a spiritual nuke in the devil’s kingdom. Why are marriages hard? Care to guess why? There is a powerful force in a working marriage and the devil is bent to stop it. How? His works are not uncommon. He presents himself in absentee fathers, mothers who desire making cash rather than raising children, men and women who compare success in money and education at the expense of success in marriage, homosexuality and lesbianism to corrupt the very command to fill the earth with children, rape, murder, addictions, poverty, insecurity, unfaithfulness, pornography, masturbation and last but not least entertainment to replace worship. All these things strain a marriage. Men and women are trapped by them. So why are we championing gay rights? Why are we accommodating pornography? Why is having a baby the only reason to get married? Why are we encouraging mothers to be single without remarrying? Why do we have large gaps between the rich and the poor? The answer is that the enemy is working in our world and we are blinded with terms such as human rights, democracy, equality and philosophy that stand in open defiance against the Creator of the Universe. Remember, we will be answerable for every word that we speak (Matthew 12:36). We will stand in the cosmos of the universe, in the everlasting presence of God the father, the Son and the Spirit, we will behold his majesty and supremacy on that final day after the grave. And all our hardened hearts, because we loved pleasure more that obedience, will be softened in his holiness when we realize that There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Don’t you just love Shakespeare? You need to see that to be a Christian and to be married is to enter into the devil’s battleground and to attack him face on! Don’t be afraid. The world needs godly marriages. Are any of the things I mentioned above hindering you? Is it homosexuality? Is it pornography? Whatever it is, be assured, Jesus can undo it and restore you to first creation status. Those men and women who will fight for their marriages to score 18/20 and 17/20 will save the world without knowing it. Don’t fear that the devil is against you. Be encouraged because the Christ that is in you is greater than the devil that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Start by submitting to God. Humility precedes honour. Once you do that, resist the devil and he will flee. Your marriage will be a nuke beloved. And that nuke will save the world around you. James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. So who wants to get married? Our final question lingers.
10) I want to get married. What if I die before that happens?
I haven’t been married for long. As of this day May the 7th 2013, I have been married for 8 months 1 week. I am not a professional in marriage. I am a rookie who is learning and still has a very, very long way to go. The world would say I am still in the honeymoon stage of my marriage. I won’t discuss the disagreement I have with that right now cause it will take five pages and no one will believe me. When I’m married for 10 years by God’s grace, I will write about that and probably someone will believe me. But this is what I want to illustrate. Take it from a guy in the “honeymoon stage”. In all the blissful moments, the dreamy excitement, the sexual fulfilment and the joy of marriage, nothing has given me more hope and joy than sitting in the fullness of God’s presence and hearing him speak through his word. My marriage has given me so much peace, joy and satisfaction but compared to what Christ is offering, I would tell you this: if you died today unmarried and you had Christ, you have everything beloved. But if you died today in the most emotionally and sexually satisfying marriage but had no Christ, (you know you still crave for more) you have nothing. There is a God shaped-hole in every human being that 3 million dollars cannot fill. It’s a hole that only God’s son, Jesus Christ can fully fill and fulfill. Whenever we try filling it with addictions, we think we are getting satisfied but the addictions only make the hole bigger by eating into it. That’s why there’s still a vacuum with sex before marriage, pursuing money as our purpose in life, building a name for ourselves, emotional and physical highs through drugs and substances. They never fill. However, Christ always fits. No matter how big the world has made the hole. Christ is big enough to fill the most broken-hearted person and humble enough to accommodate our victory when we don’t deserve the credit. You need to see that Christ is enough!
However, hope for marriage. It is God’s creation and a gift for you! Don’t fear it! Embrace it when it comes. Why? It will give you a picture, a sniff, a whim of God’s plan for eternity. I can’t explain it. For me I will simply say, it can only be experienced. My writing prowess can’t do it. I fall short. And not just any marriage can show it. A marriage where the man and woman are devoted to Christ first and fully and then secondly and only to their spouse. That kind of marriage will shake the gates of Hades. But if you don’t get married, realize this, God’s requirement for a relationship with him in eternity is marriage…not a human marriage though…but a marriage with him- a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is a marriage. Even if you avoid marriage now, you will have it for eternity. Marriage is inevitable! You deepest wishes will still be fulfilled and believe me, the marriage to Christ will surpass all emotionally fulfilling, physically attractive, sexually satisfying, spiritually gratifying relationship here on earth. All the things we crave for will seem as nothing in the presence of his glory. Christ is our best marriage and every man and woman, married or not should crave for this marriage more than they crave for a husband, a wife, their spouse, for children, for money, for a job and for earthly exaltation of any form. If you don’t long for it as much as you long to be rich or have what you want, ask God to give you a hunger for things eternity. He will always give when we ask.
So, back to the main question? Why did I get married young? God has called me to encourage you.