Today's Family: Have You Performed Your Vow Today?

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Today's Family

Have You Performed Your Vow Today?

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Standing before a large crowd of friends, another young couple solemnly exchanged wedding vows. The minister asked the groom, “Do you faithfully promise and covenant with God in the presence of these witnesses to take so-and-so to be your lawful wedded wife—in sickness and in health, in good times and in difficult times, for as long as you both shall live?” He then asked the question of the bride. Both joyfully said, “I do.” But would they? In much of the Western world many couples do not honor their vows by staying together as husband and wife. The tragedy of divorce dismantles a significantly high number of households. The pain of failed marriages is experienced all too often. Although every failed marriage has its own sad tale, several common misunderstandings contribute to the problem. Marriage more than a physical relationship Debates over mankind’s origin don’t help. The common—and erroneous—view that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution explains our existence is confusing and detrimental to marriages. The theory classifies man as part of the animal kingdom. Though placed at the top of a hierarchy of animals because of his superior skills and abilities, such thinking degrades humanity and hides the fact that God created us to be part of His Kingdom. We humans often live up to the expectations of our parents or other influential figures. If we are taught or influenced to believe that we are no more than animals, should we be surprised that many of us act like animals? Although a few species of animals mate for life, most do not remain faithful to one partner throughout their lifetimes. When the females of the species go into heat, they have sex with any opposite-sex member of their species that happens along. Driven by their sexual urges and not realizing their ultimate potential, some people live their lives in a similarly promiscuous fashion. Although most people agree that a committed relationship with one person is ideal, television shows and movies continue to glamorize and portray indiscriminate sexual relations and divorce as normal and even desirable. Such entertainment, coupled with disregard for our spiritual potential, takes a toll. Marriages pay a dear price for such confusion and aberrant messages. From the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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), God’s plan has been to expand His family (Ephesians 3:14-15 Ephesians 3:14-15 14 For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
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). Jesus Christ came to earth to help us attain our spiritual potential—”to become children of God” (John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
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). Those who respond to this high calling will be invited to the greatest wedding in the history of the universe—”the marriage supper of the Lamb.” When Jesus returns He will take as His bride those who have made themselves ready through “righteous acts” (Revelation 19:7-9 Revelation 19:7-9 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he said to me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.
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). The apostle Paul understood that God instituted marriage between human beings as representative of the great marriage to Christ and a way for us to better understand the loving relationship between Jesus and His devoted followers, who comprise His Church. Paul taught wives to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22 Ephesians 5:22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
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) and husbands to love their wives “just as Christ also loved the church” (verse 25). Concluding his explanation of godly marriage, Paul wrote: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (verse 32). Marriage is not simply a physical relationship that exists on a human level. It is a God-plane relationship. It was instituted by God to help us prepare for an eternal relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus. (If you wish to know more about God’s plan for humanity, please request our free booklets What Is Your Destiny? and The Gospel of the Kingdom.) Understanding love Another misunderstanding that threatens marriages relates to love. Many people don’t know what real love is. Assuming that love just mysteriously happens and they have no control over it, some believe divorce is the solution when problems appear. It seems too many forget their vows to stay together in the good times and the bad. Writing to members of the Church in Corinth, the apostle Paul described how true love works. “Love suffers,” he explained. And not only does it suffer, it “suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4 1 Corinthians 13:4Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,
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). Some people apparently have never understood that love entails considerable patience, bearing with another’s human weaknesses and faults. Paul’s instruction is not meant to condone abusive behaviors or immorality but to teach us that the little irritants of living with another human being—their likes and dislikes and foibles—need to be tolerated. As Paul wrote: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (verses 4 to 8). The biblical definition of love does not cast humans as victims of a capricious, uncontrollable emotion. Instead, love involves conscious choice—and its depth and breadth are demonstrated most fully not in good times, but through difficulty. Immature love is an emotion that focuses primarily on personal gratification—what someone else can do for us. Godly love, the kind of love that Paul and other biblical writers describe, focuses on what we can do for others and how we can make ourselves both more loving and lovable. (If you would like to know more about this kind of love, please request our free booklet The Ten Commandments.) Marriage and commitment When we understand that marriage is a covenant (Malachi 2:14 Malachi 2:14Yet you say, Why? Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant.
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), that understanding should have a positive impact on the longevity of our relationship with our husband or wife. Though we commonly speak of exchanging wedding vows, many forget the three-party covenant involved in marriage. They lose sight that the marriage covenant is a solemn agreement that includes not only one’s mate but God Himself. When we make a covenant with God He expects us to honor that commitment —even on the days we wake up feeling no longer “in love.” Wise King Solomon explains: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 4 When you vow a vow to God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed. 5 Better is it that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; neither say you before the angel, that it was an error: why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear you God.
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). Emphasizing the personal responsibility each of us must take in fulfilling our vows, King David wrote a song that included this phrase: “Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God” (Psalms 56:12 Psalms 56:12Your vows are on me, O God: I will render praises to you.
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). He concluded another psalm: “So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may daily perform [honor] my vows” (Psalms 61:8 Psalms 61:8So will I sing praise to your name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
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). If you are married, consider these important questions. Do you understand that marriage is a God-plane relationship? Do you realize love is something we do rather than only something we feel? Finally, have you performed your vow today? GN