Marriage 101

       Shock, it's my middle name. You can't live in a house with all girls and not be shocked. It's just me and the rabbit named Gizmo. We're the only guys.

       What my oldest daughter asked me the other night not only shocked me it alarmed me too. Katie and I were on a father-daughter date to the movies. Katie is almost 11 now. In the middle of a conversation about music she took a left turn and asked, "are mommy and you getting a divorce?" "No, and why would you ask such a thing?" I answered.

       Katie went on to name several friends whose parents are divorced. She was just frightened and that scared me.

       Truth be told, Judy and are madly in love. While on rare occasion we have intense fellowship, it doesn't diminish our feelings for each other. Divorce for us is out of the question.

       Our marriage is based on covenant with God. Genesis 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh." (Some bibles use the word "cleave" in place of "united.") In the Old Testament it is a covenant term. When Israel is obedient to God's covenant, she "cleaves" to him.

       We have come to place where marriage is little more than a contract that can be torn up and tossed out. This "anything goes" society is destroying one of the greatest things about it... 'the family'. The divorce rate is about 50-percent in this country and even higher in the Christian Church.

       I must confess to you that I am not perfect. My experience is that I was married very young. It was not grounded in God. It was not grounded in the church. My first marriage lasted two years. We had no children, but I speak now with authority because Christ is the head of my marriage. There is no other way, because no other way was intended. Judy and I have been married 15 years now.

       In Ephesians 5:21:33 Paul teaches Marriage 101. He writes that God requires a high degree of commitment from husbands. As Christ gave his life for the church, so husbands are to give to their wives and are always to put their wives needs before their own. It's called "servant leadership". A wife in turn is to honor her husband as the church honors its husband, Christ. Honor and worship of each other in Christ brings lifelong loyalty and true meaning to your vows.

       The saying "what you value is what you'll have" rings true. In their book "Boundaries in Marriage", Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend talk about six great values for your marriage. These values are love of God, love of spouse, honesty, faithfulness, compassion, forgiveness and holiness.

       Perhaps the greatest of these is holiness, because if holiness is in your marriage, five critical things will be present. Which are present in your marriage? We begin with confession and ownership of the problems in each individual. A relentless drive toward growth and development, a giving up of everything that gets in the way of love, a surrendering of everything that gets in the way of truth, and a purity of heart where nothing toxic is allowed to grow.

       Marriage vows are done in reverence, hope and faith, because only God can consecrate our union with His grace.

Bill Martin is a multiple winner of Emmy and Associated Press awards for excellence in broadcast journalism. He was also inducted into the Ohio Television/Radio Hall of Fame in 1999.