“Two are better than one…” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
It was for good reason the Lord said “It is not good for man to be alone.” He who made humans knew them. “He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Genesis 2:18 and Psalm 103:14)
The Heavenly Father knows we need someone in harness with us.
Ever try to row a boat with one oar? By stroking only on one side of the boat?
Without the counterbalance of the other oar, we tend to get off course, to go in circles, if you will.
Most of us need marriage. We are better people as a result of being joined in wedlock to someone different from us, someone who loves us, but who sees life from another angle and brings their own perspective into every issue.
Consider this a word in favor of marriage and remarriage.
Bertha and I were married to our spouses–Gary and Margaret–for some 52 years each. The Lord took Gary to Heaven in May 2014 and He took Margaret in January 2015. While we had never met each other’s families, Gary and I had been friends since seminary in the 1960s. Bertha and I met for the first time on February 15, 2016. We were married on January 11, 2017 after eleven months of visits (we lived 200 miles apart), phone calls, texts, letters, and all the usual stuff.
As I sit at the laptop typing this, our marriage is two weeks old. I recommend it!
A child expresses dismay that her grandmother is thinking of marrying again. She may say this, or perhaps it goes unsaid: “How can anyone take grandpa’s place?” Her older siblings are surprised to think of grandmother going to bed with another man. “And at her age!”
An adult son expresses dismay that his father is thinking of marrying again. He may voice this, or perhaps it goes unsaid: “He’ll end up marrying some young thing who will walk off with our inheritance!” His sister adds, “Mom has a dog for companionship. What does she need with a man? I thought she was beyond that.”
In an article on this website, I told how Bertha Fagan and I met last February 15 and quickly came to see, in the words of Psalm 118:23 that “this is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our sight.”
Making plans for marriage–at some point; we’re still undecided as to when–is certainly exciting and more than a little scary. A relative said, “I admire your courage.” I thought to myself, “Courage is the right word. It takes courage to uproot your lives, sell your homes, downsize your possessions, and merge your existence with another person for the last years of your life.”
It takes faith.
There are so many issues, questions to be settled, matters to be determined before we take that step.
Now, everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner til death…. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises…. And of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. –C. S. Lewis, “Christian Marriage” in his book Mere Christianity.
In the wedding vow, we promise to be true to our beloved “so long as we both shall live.”
But what we do not promise and probably could not keep even if we did is to always be “in love” with the other.
Say what? How’s that?
C. S. Lewis says, “A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions; no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.”
But shouldn’t we always be in love? Isn’t that the goal?
“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23 NASB).
It’s time to “spill the beans,” say my friends.
Bertha Fagan is her name. She is a native of Jackson, Mississippi, and lives nearby in the community of Pearl where she teaches English at the Rankin Center of Hinds Community College.
Bertha is the widow of Dr. Gary Fagan, a seminary classmate of mine. But even though Gary and I knew each other for fifty years, and at one time we all belonged to First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi, we did not know one another’s families. Gary went to Heaven in May of 2014.
My wife Margaret died the following January.
Bertha and I met for the first time on February 15 of this year (2016). Within days, we both knew the Lord had done something special here.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” (Proverbs 27:6)
Perhaps the most dangerous place on the church campus is the pastor’s counseling office.
When the minister is shut up in a tight space with a vulnerable female who confides in him the most personal things of her life, often the two people do something completely natural and end up bonding emotionally.
The bonding process is simple: she opens up to him, he sympathizes with her, she reaches out to him, and there it goes.
Many a ministry and a great many marriages have been destroyed in the counseling room.
Can we talk about this?
The newlywed couple can easily be overwhelmed with their new circumstances. They are adjusting to each other–the delightful as well as the mysterious, the obvious as well as the surprising. They are finding out how to plan their days and nights now that dating and courting have suddenly been removed from their agenda. And, they are finding out about mortgages and rents, taxes, and neighbors in ways they only imagined earlier.
It’s called life. It happens to all of us.
It would be natural for the newly married couple to postpone some things. And true enough, some things can be put on the back burner. Let them delay going into debt for “big ticket items.” Debt can be a killer for young families. Let them delay having children until they have solidified some matters in their own new relationship and established their home.
However, some mighty important matters should be dealt with head-on and faced immediately.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is like him” (Genesis 2:18).
The old t-shirt said, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
It’s cute, but quite wrong. Dead wrong, as a matter of fact.
We all need other people in our lives. God made the genders male and female so that we complement each other. Because we are different, we bring different things into the marriage. Some of those “things” are gifts and endowments and strengths and some are what we call “baggage.” Such “baggage” may include character flaws, prejudices, areas in which we are immature, fears, guilt, and needs.
No one enters a marriage empty-handed.
“They made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:35).
No marriage is perfect.
The union of two godly well-intentioned disciples of Jesus Christ does not guarantee a successful marriage.
And even the successful ones–however we would define that!–in almost every case had their ups and downs.
So, if you’ve been feeling like a failure because a) your husband spends more time at the church than at home, b) your wife isn’t nearly the cook or housekeeper your mom was, c) you and your spouse argue, d) you have each lost your temper and said/done some things you regretted later, or e) all of the above, then….
Welcome to the human race.
I’ve been reading William J. Petersen’s book “25 Surprising Marriages: Faith-building Stories from the Lives of Famous Christians.”
I’ll take a funeral over a wedding any day.
You don’t have to rehearse a funeral. And there are no formal meals or receptions involved. You stand up in front of the honored guest, and do your thing, say your prayers, enjoy a couple of great songs, and go your way.
But with weddings, you have these rehearsals where a thousand things can go wrong, where the bride and her mother argue, where bridesmaids sometimes see how risque’ they can dress, and the groomsmen how rambunctious they can behave. You have a wedding director who may or may not be capable. (I’ll take a drill sergeant from Parris Island any day over a lazy director who has no idea all the awful things that can happen the next day.)
Weddings have a hundred moments where slipups can occur and trouble can happen. Brides are late to church, grooms forget the rings, someone has been drinking, the flower girl is crying, photographers are arguing, the wedding director is pulling her hair out, and the caterer is trying to get paid. The candles either did not arrive, will not light, or are dripping wax on the carpet. The limo is late bringing the maids and the bride because, this being his third wedding of the day, each one took more time than he had allowed, so instead of arriving at the church at 6:30 for a 7:00 wedding, the limousine pulls in at 7:45.
Charles and I were standing outside the sanctuary waiting for the musical cue from the organist signaling time for us to enter. He was marrying a lovely young lass whose father was an Air Force officer. We had done the obligatory pre-marital counseling sessions, although they both seemed reluctant and uninvolved, like this was something they wanted to get over. My watch said “Two o’clock,” but the organist kept playing. He and I had done a hundred weddings before, so I knew to listen for the Trumpet Voluntare and not to enter until he sounded it out.
Something was amiss.