In a time when we are seeing the decline of traditional marriage, the essential element to unleash the greatest potential is still found in marriage. It is hard to believe this because we are seeing so many marriages disintegrate. Even in the church, divorces are happening one after another. We are supposed to be the light to the world, lighting the way to everything good. But our light has dimmed. It is flickering and about to go out altogether.
The problem is not with the institution of marriage. The problem is that the marriage ceremony has become ritualistic. People do not truly consider their vows before saying, “I do.” Anytime something becomes ritualistic, the meaning is lost. “Will you love her, keep her, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her so long as you both shall live?” That is the question that is asked by the preacherman. I don’t know about you, but I have never been at a wedding or performed a wedding where the man or the woman stopped and said, “Wow! That is a serious promise. Let me think about it and get back to you.” Of course, that would be horrible if it did happen, but shouldn’t this question be considered heavily before anyone says ‘yes’ to the proposal.
Most people would say, “Of course I love him. Why wouldn’t I marry him?” And there we find a most significant problem with marriage. People ‘feel’ in love so they jump into relationships. They get married. They move in together. They have children. People define love as a feeling and then promise to feel this way forever. It’s impossible. Feelings are too fickly. People do not know what to do when the feeling is gone. “I’ve fallen out of love,” is what they say. But wait just a dog-gone minute: You promised to love that person “til death do us part.” These two phrases do not go together if people associate love merely as a feeling. This is why whoever wrote the marriage vows got it right by adding this little phrase to the end…”til death do us part.” These words change everything. They are the key to lasting and fulfilling marriage. But when people are getting married, they are so overwhelmed by the feeling of being in love with the other person, it doesn’t even cross their mind that they might ever come to the point that they would ever say, “I want a divorce!” It sneaks up on them. They never thought it would come to this, but the feeling is gone.
“Til death do us part,” is a promise that cannot be built on a foundation of feelings. There are going to be days when we do not ‘feel’ in love with that person. The feeling of love can dissipate like the dew when there is a stormy season. But that promise ‘til death do us part’ holds it all together. This promise keeps people together and deepens their love for one another. No one can honestly promise to always feel in love with someone else, but we can all promise to keep loving them with words and action no matter what. I realize that this kind of promise is hard to keep, but that is why we must seek strength from the Lord. “Til death to us part” gives strength to a weak marriage. It gives life to a relationship that should be dead. It revives the heart and soul. When we promise and keep our promise to love our spouse no matter what until death, we become a very safe place. We become a place that no matter how badly someone messes up, they rest in the assurance that their spouse will never leave, never betray, but always love.
When a couple says, “wanna move in and see how it goes?” the very nature of the question screams out, “I may not love you tomorrow!” Who would want to enter into that kind of situation? If you are going to love me, then love me with your whole heart today and forever, til death do us part. “Til death do us part” says, ‘even when you are difficult; even when times are hard; even if we lose a child; even if your forget my birthday; even if you lie to me; even if you yell and scream, I will keep loving you.” This kind of love is powerful. It melts hearts and changes minds. It is the same love that Christ exhibited on the cross. “While you are yet sinning, I will die for you.” That is the message of the cross and when people truly encounter this kind of love, they hunger and thirst for more and the relationship deepens.
Each of us are so completely aware of our inability to be perfect that knowing someone will love us even at our worst is is overwhelming. “Til death do us part” releases a love that draws lovers back to us one another. This love overcomes, overwhelms, and never fails. Marriage is intended to be the ceremony celebrating this magnificent promise. If you are married or thinking about marriage, do not go through the motions repeating words you have never considered. A promise to love ‘til death do us part” so drastically changes the dynamics of a relationship, it will become a treasure so great that you will sacrifice anything and everything to keep it.