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Sunday, May 19, 2013
Is marriage dead?Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011, at 7:32 AM
Some have suggested that the institution of marriage is essentially dead.
With the current divorce rate, number of people choosing cohabitation and now even homosexuals entering the ranks of "married," one might wonder if the curtain is closing on the institution.
If it's such a good thing, then why do so many fail?
The downward slide has been rapid indeed. Not so long ago, the term "living in sin" would be applied to the unmarried who were "shacking up." When's the last time you even heard those terms used?
With the oft-stated number of 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, what's wrong with marriage?
How about some perspective?
First off, where do most people become trained in marriage? When a person goes to school, they are versed in the rules and regulations of the institution. When a person applies for a license to drive, they must show that they have knowledge of the rules and some proficiency in applying them in real life. When we enter a relationship with an employer, we will participate in an orientation program of some sort, so all involved understand what is expected and how both parties to the contract will be pleased in the arrangement.
What about marriage?
Marriage has components of all of the above. It is an institution. We apply for a license to enter it. It is a relationship based on a social contract and much, much more. Yet, none of the training, acknowledgement of rules or agreement to terms of pleasing the other party seems to be a standard part of the marriage process.
Let's just call it plainly. Most people enter into marriage with precious little training or knowledge about how to make it work -- outside of what they have observed from their own parents and the parents of friends (half of whom are divorced).
During semester breaks at Purdue, I painted apartments for Student Housing. The training for the job was very brief and the oversight was little.
On the first day, I was paired with another painter, given a key and a work order and then dropped off in front of the proper building with our box of equipment, drop clothes and multiple gallons of paint.
My co-worker was also new to the paint crew. We had lots of paint to mix and neither one of us particularly relished the idea of stirring all of it by hand.
Fortunately, in our box was a device that spun on one end when you worked the handle up and down on the other end. It worked tolerably well, but was a real pain to clean. It seemed poorly designed.
Over time, it worked even less well because paint was getting up inside the device and gumming up the internal parts.
One day, the supervisor came upon us as we were using this paint stirrer. He was not in the least impressed or amused that we were using the brush cleaner in that manner. It turns out that the spinning part on the bottom was for rollers and brushes. After washing out a roller, you simply slipped it on the spinning part, worked the handle and the water would fly right out of the roller.
Getting the liquids out helped prolong the life of the roller. How ingenious!
Our spinner was pretty well ruined because of all the dried paint inside -- even though we were still trying to make it work. Some training early in the process about how to carry out our work would have really helped.
The Bible asks a simple question in Amos 3:3: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"
Have you ever walked with a person and bumped into them because they went one way and you went the other? If we are going to walk through life with another person, there must be agreement about where we are going and how we intend to get there before we start out. Yes, there will be course corrections along the way, but acknowledgement of certain rules and agreement to principles of our contract are vital if we are going to please each other.
None of this undermines the love aspect of marriage. Frankly, if anything, it underscores it. If you truly love someone, you'll do the things that make for enduring happiness. Since acknowledgement and agreement of rules and principles is rarely done, it's probably more surprising that only 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.
There's nothing wrong with the institution of marriage. There's no problem with its design. It's an ingenious arrangement from the mind of God that has existed "from the beginning" (Matthew 19:4-6).
The trouble lies in our execution of it. Most of us, at one time or another, have tried to put some item together without consulting any directions. Sometimes, we're successful and sometimes not (maybe 50 percent of the time?).
Positive marriage training early in (in example and in word), consulting of directions that have existed from the beginning and honest agreement to principles under which we will operate would go a long way to increasing the number of marriages that actually last "till death do us part."
Rob Dispennett is the preacher for the Knightsville Church of Christ. He can be contacted through its website at knightsvillechurch.org or you can just show up next Sunday and heckle him from the back.
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