The radiant bride moved down the aisle towards me with her proud father. The smartly dressed groom stepped forward to meet his wife-to-be. Then my part in the marriage ceremony began.
As pastor of their congregation it pleases me greatly to see a man and woman in love pledge to each other their lifelong loyalty. But somehow marriage is now perceived as a burden to many.
Marriage's declining popularity
Here in Britain many young people see no need to marry, especially those who have survived the parental wars. The current trend is for couples to live together in casual partnerships.
In 2007 the number of official marriages in England and Wales (231,450) was the lowest since 1895—less than half of the 480,300 recorded in 1972. Also—beginning in 1992—more couples who do marry formalize their union with civil rather than religious ceremonies. By 2007 civil unions topped 65% of all marriages in England and Wales.
As a whole, the British people no longer have a strong belief in eternal values. Statistics show that half of all marriages end within a few years. "Til divorce do us part" is a more likely to end the marital bond than death!
Divorce is especially hard on children. In 2006 the 132,000 couples who divorced in this nation affected more than 90,000 children under one year old!
The cost of leaving God out of marriage
Marriage was intended to be a wonderful blessing to humanity. It was our Creator who instituted marriage, saying: "It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him" (Genesis 2:18 Genesis 2:18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
American King James Version×, The Amplified Bible). However, the partnership that God desires for husbands and wives requires a firm commitment to each other.
Strong family bonds stablise society and prepare the next generation for leadership. Children who grow to maturity in that type of environment are much more likely to be stable and secure.
But that degree of fidelity and commitment is rapidly disappearing. Much of today's society has grown frighteningly unstable in regard to strong, solid and lasting relationships. This trend is greatly affecting marriages and married couples' commitment to maintain enduring, stable families!
As the apostle Paul predicted for our time, "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God ..." (2 Timothy 3:2-5 2 Timothy 3:2-5  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
American King James Version×, New International Version).
The eternal quality marriages should exhibit
Marriage was created to be both enjoyable and lasting. But modern society has lost sight of the divine purpose for this important relationship.
Actually, the marriage relationship should have an eternal quality. The apostle Peter tells husbands and wives that they should regard each other as, "heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7 1 Peter 3:7Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
American King James Version×). And Paul urged all husbands to "love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church" (Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×).
Also, through their children, husbands and wives are privileged to share our Heavenly Father's experience of personally guiding others to maturity by their teaching and example. As we share His likeness (Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×), our children can share our likeness—both physically and in the attitudes and character they develop.
When Jesus Christ returns to this earth, He will help mankind understand the wonderful blessing of marriage. But you don't have to wait until that time to know and apply God's teaching.
To better understand God's marvelous gift of marriage, I suggest that you download, read online or request our helpful and informative free booklet: Marriage & Family, The Missing Dimension.