Our Own Defense of Marriage Acts

By Mark A. Taylor

Last year, just before my daughter’s wedding, a friend e-mailed me about the big day.

“My daughter’s wedding was the most exhilarating and exhausting day of my life,” he said, and soon I would know what he meant.

But it occurs to me that exhilarating and exhausting describe the whole gamut of married and family life.

For example, it’s exhilarating finally to hold a newborn baby, especially after an exhausting labor and drawn-out pregnancy.

Likewise, each milestone of the new preschooler’s life is exhilarating: first words, first steps, first everything! And keeping up with her is exhausting for the frazzled parent trying to adjust to life with perpetual motion.

This is how it goes with each new year. The on-task parent is exhausted again and again—helping with homework, traipsing to practices and games and lessons and recitals, monitoring chores, teaching good habits, tending to bad behavior, coping with illness, navigating school, encouraging church.

And then come the teen years when that sweet darling turns sullen or the friendly chap suddenly quits talking. We’re so bamboozled by this stranger in our house we forget they’re as upset by it all as we are.

But each conversation and confrontation adds another brick to a foundation that can become a great friendship by the time this child becomes an adult. And that new, mature relationship is exhilarating.

July9_eddy_JNWhat’s true for rearing children is just as important in building a marriage. Good communication, shared goals, mutual pleasure, and ongoing satisfaction don’t just happen because two people are eating and sleeping in the same house. Good marriages, like healthy children, develop when involved parties work to make them flourish. The result can be exhilarating, but the process is often exhausting.

Last month, amid the hubbub over the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, I thought about all the things we can do, we must do, individually to defend our own marriages.

Of course we’re unhappy with the judges and other government leaders who have turned their back on an ages-long understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman. Of course we’re disappointed, maybe even devastated, that they’ve ignored the Bible’s simple description and prescription: a man and a woman leave their families to cleave to each other and become one flesh.

But let’s concentrate on what we can control, and we can control this: We can defend our marriages against the devil’s relentless attacks against our marriages. We can recruit a friend to hold us accountable to keeping our commitments. We can wake up every morning with the conviction to make our marriages a place where God’s at work. We can remind ourselves daily of all the things we love about our spouses. We can persevere through all the change time throws at the two of us.

And if that sounds exhausting, remember this: It’s easy to moan about the decline of our culture and to document the failure of our government. It’s easy to write off one segment of society because we’re confused or disgusted by same-sex behavior. It’s easy to pray for God to bless America.

But if every Christian couple would commit daily to defending their own marriages, I’m guessing the result would send fresh air throughout our neighborhoods and around our institutions. And the result would be . . . exhilarating.

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  1. July 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

    God bless you, Mark. in 62 years of ministry, I have watched our church marriages decay and that was the spark that allowed the Supreme Court decision. This last year was a teaching year for me as to marriage and how to handle. After nine natural births, a full adoption of a 10th child, 29 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, and years of a very satisfying ministry, I came face to face with the fact that I had neglected my darling wife in many ways. I am a type A that moves at the speed of life, and I had begun making important decisions on my own, that led to my wife moving out of our home, and nine months of personal reevaluation as I sought to hold a church from splitting and taking sides, since their senior minister and his wife that was a very important part of that ministry were living apart. I had some hard questions to ask of myself, and some long and difficult talks with my wife about what both of us had done wrong over the years that we got careless. I rearranged my 14-hour-a-day schedule with two important missions and a very busy church, and set aside each week two supper evenings and the whole evening—the first one to do Bible study at where we went wrong, and the second on just to talk and love on each other. This month my wife moved back home, and our marriage that had gotten old and stale after 60 years has a new freshness of decades ago. Jeremiah was not as popular as the false prophets, but he was right. When defeat is a reality, surrender, and follow God’s instructions, in Jeremiah’s case setting up the Persian worldwide synagogues to speed up the first century AD Pauline drive to take Christianity to the Gentiles. Let us reach out to these same-sex couples and explain why marriage is more than a loving relationship.

  2. July 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    My humble thanks Mark for giving us all an update on marriage relationships that is long overdue. Especially did I like your comment: “We can recruit a friend to hold us accountable to keeping our commitments.” Often times in our church we make special mention of the need for personal accountability in our relationships within the Body of Christ…brothers with brothers and sisters with sisters…And that goes double for the experienced couples interacting with the younger couples in order to bring spiritual accountability to the forefront.
    Yet, Mark, in all of this relevant and much needed discussion, how much do we emphasize the ultimate need for a deeper relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ? Sometimes I find it too ironic how we talk about the responsibilities of marriage, having and rearing our children, paying mortgages; the upkeep of cars, school functions, and the like—have we forgotten that we are first and foremost married to Jesus? And that—is perhaps where we’ve fallen so far short of God’s glory and purpose in our lives on a daily basis. Plus, is not our relationship with Christ the very pattern for our marriages with our spouses? Our brother, the Apostle Paul gives us such a beautiful picture of marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33.
    In any event, I sincerely pray for our churches today, because we always have our greatest needs met when we see our relationships thru the eyes of the Holy One Who created us in His image to fulfill the love and mercy HE imparts to and thru us to one another. Only then, as we continue to love one another as does Christ will the world take notice that we are Jesus’ disciples [John 13:34-35]. And with our marriage to Christ intact [hopefully] we are thus enabled thru the Holy Spirit to show “others of different persuasions” what true marriage looks like.

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