But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone.  Matthew 19:11

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.  1 Corinthians 7:32-35

A wedding is this joyful moment when two people say something to the effect of, “over all others on this earth, I choose you to be with, you to be rich or poor with, you to be healthy or sick with, you to enjoy the better or the worse with.” While weddings are beautiful affairs (and often expensive), there is perhaps no more preparation for being married than a driving test is for hitting the open road!

Marriage is the complex relationship that follows the wedding! It is two people learning to live as one. As we read scripture, we see marriage is never overly romanticized. In the story of Jacob (Genesis 19), we see a man who is tricked into marrying his beloved’s sister. He marries his beloved a week later while staying married to his first wife. In the book of Job, when the famous long suffering titular character is at his lowest moment, his “helpful” wife tells him to “curse God and die”. If you know the Bible, then you noticed that I cherry picked some of the least controversial marriages for illustrations!

We live in a world where people want to embrace the ‘happily ever after’ moment but don’t always want to work hard at the relationship they have entered into. In this week’s passages, both Jesus and Paul make it clear that marriage is not the easy road. It is a path of sacrifice, and it should be entered into with that in mind. The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer includes these words in the wedding service:

“Marriage is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined”

While presenting the challenges of marriage, the Bible also presents the joys. In Ecclesiastes 4 we read these words:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In this week’s passages, Jesus and Paul remind us that marriage was never designed to be THE central relationship. That place belongs to God alone.

Today, regardless of your relationship status, choose to thank God for his work for you, his relationship with you and his presence in you.

You might:

Take a walk and notice Jesus walking alongside you.
Write a note of thankfulness and gratitude.
Open your hands and surrender each relationship, and recognise it is second
to your relationship with your Heavenly Father.