by Morris Chalfant
Marriage is the only institution that has come down to us from the other side of the fall of man. God ordained marriage and it is intended to be the fullest, richest, and most joyous life. If it fails in being this, the fault is not in the institution itself, but in those who enter into it carelessly, and fail to fulfill its conditions. God ordained marriage for the comfort, happiness, and well-being of mankind. It is not a convenience. It is a part of God's original plan.
There is no relationship on earth so close and sacred as the relationship of marriage. It supersedes the relationship of a child to mother or father. God intended marriage to be a happy state in which the man and woman function together as a perfect unit-one flesh.
An imperfect and unsatisfying stale marriage is not the result of a bad institution! It is the result of a broken law. It happens because men and women have lost sight of true marital values.
Divorce has assumed popular proportions. One writer has said, "Let's call marriage a belt that we can buckle and unbuckle." In other words, if you do not like it, just unhook! But God never intended this sacred relationship to be assumed or discharged lightly.
Is there, then, an answer to the world's marital dilemma? I believe that any man or woman who sincerely wants to discover the building blocks of a happy and lasting marriage may do so. For the God who planned the home tells us how to build it. "Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it" (Ps. 127:1).
In Jesus' story of the prodigal, the father loved the son even though the son was in the hogpen, but it was only when the son was finally willing to leave his hogpen and say, "I'm sorry," that the relationship was restored and the son could once again experience and enjoy the father's love.
It is love, and only love, that can breach the walls that separate wives from husbands, and children from parents. And love is always willing to say "I'm sorry." And if each of us-parents and children and husbands and wives and brothers and sisters-would all leave our hogpens of selfishness and stubbornness and pride and say to each other, in sincerity and tenderness, "I'm sorry," it would be amazing how the walls that separate us would dissolve, and the gaps that divide us would be bridged, and the relationships in our homes would be happy and wholesome and healthy once again.
As someone has said, "Praying together is both a solvent and a glue. It dissolves resentments and bitterness, and binds hearts in new and joyous harmony." If praying together can restore a marriage about to break up, think of what it can do to strengthen and enrich a marriage that is lacking in communication and intimacy. It is certainly worth trying.
Louis Evans, former pastor of the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, made an amazing statement. He said that he never knew a couple who went ahead with a divorce after first praying together, on their knees, every day, for a week.
Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Tournier, writes, "It is only when a husband and wife pray together before God that they find the secret of true harmony: that the difference in their temperaments, their ideas, and their tastes enriches their home instead of endangering it...When each of the marriage partners seeks quietly before God to see his own faults, recognizes his sin, and asks the forgiveness of the other, marital problems are no more...They learn to become absolutely honest with each other...This is the price to be paid if partners very different from each other are to combine their gifts instead of setting them against each other.