Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rate of failed marriages alarming

Our spouse a gift of God

When we were young we were made to believe that marriages are made in heaven. After all these years of witnessing and experiencing the problems of marriage, we are not sure whether marriages are really made in heaven but we do know for certain that whether they succeed or not is very much determined by us here on earth.

With the casual attitude to sex and marriage today the sanctity of matrimony that was held in high esteem is under threat of total destruction. The resulting escalating divorce rate is alarming and is a sign of the failure of marriages today. It is seriously threatening to undermine the basic family unit which was the source of all success and happiness of man throughout history.

Lately I had the opportunity to attend a church wedding of a friend’s son. I was impressed by the sermon delivered at the service, which was simple, clear and very practical. It made reflect on what marriage is all about and why it is failing today.
The pastor said “The fact that Christ has sanctioned your marriage means that he has chosen the spouse for you. It implies that your partner selected by Him is the best for you and you can never find someone better however hard you try”.

Turning to the bridegroom he reiterated “This woman is the best wife for you as she is chosen by Christ himself. It will therefore be futile and even foolish of you to leave her for someone better in the course of your life as you will never find such a one”. He then turned to the bride and gave similar advice regarding her husband.

With my own experiences over 25 years of married life, I can safely vouch for the truth of what was stated by the pastor; that our spouse is chosen by God and as such must be the best for us. We need to acknowledge that fact and adjust our lives accordingly to accommodate the person specially chosen by God. If we do not have that faith and trust in Christ regarding this simple fact, then it would be meaningless to call ourselves His followers.

Jesus was very clear in His Sermon on the Mount regarding divorce “I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.(Mathew 5:32).

Today weddings have become a show of prestige and glamour. The church ceremony is just another fashionable ritual. We seem to be more concerned about the physical aspects of the ceremony; what clothes and make-up to wear, type of photographs and video recording to take, type of church service to have, number of priests who solemnise the marriage, the type of banquet to hold, the number and status of guests to invite and the list is endless. We just want to make our wedding a memorable one not just for us but for all who attend it.

Amidst all these external preparations we forget the real essence of marriage. We forget that we are taking our marriage oath in front of Jesus himself. We forget that Jesus has sanctioned and blessed our marriage. We forget that we are promising to Jesus that we will be true each other in times of good and bad. We forget that we are promising to Jesus that what come may we will stay together till death does us apart.

Looking back, to many of us who are experiencing severe marital problems, our wedding including the church ceremony was just a fashion show and nothing more. We have forgotten and breached all the promises we made to Jesus but we still say we love Him and follow him.

Today even among Catholics, divorce is slowly being accepted as a norm. What is frightening is that it occurs not only soon after marriage but even after many years of marriage. If only the couples, who took their matrimonial wows, in the presence of Christ, understood that they were chosen for each other by God himself and that they are the best for each other, they would have never considered divorce as the solution to whatever problems that they encounter.

Very often we see only the defects in our spouses. In fact it is much easier to see the bad than the good in them. It is easy for us to say “Lord, I love you”, and we do say that many times a day, but very difficult to say the same to our spouses even once. If only we realize that Christ reveals himself daily in our spouses, in their strength and more so in their weaknesses, then saying the phrase to our spouses will be become a joy. We continue to look for Christ all over but fail to see Him in the one whom we see every day and with whom we share our life.

Once when we are convinced that Christ would give us the best in everything, including our spouses, only then will we see the good in them and overlook their shortcomings. This would be the beginning of a lasting and unshakably strong relationship with them that will withstand the stress and strain which are common in the process of bringing up the family.

We preach so much about faith and trust in God and we often presume we have that faith in us at all times. It may be so in good times but the real test of faith is at times when tragedy strikes and our lives are thrown into disarray. That is the time we must recall our matrimonial wows we made to the person handpicked by God to be our partner in life, in the presence of Christ, “I’ll be true to you in good and bad times,in sickness and in health ….. .till death does us apart”.

For those among us contemplating separation for whatever reason, let us stop to ponder on the consequences of our actions. If we are true followers of Christ, as we claim, we must gain the strength and courage to accept our spouse as a special gift from God to enrich our lives. Our spouse may be imperfect as we are and it will only be fair to accept him or her as a whole as presented to us by God.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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