Some people approach the subject with humor, like comedian Dennis Miller.
“After seven years of marriage,” he said, “I’m sure of two things—first, never wallpaper together, and second, you’ll need two bathrooms, both for her. The rest is a mystery, but a mystery I love to be involved in.”
Bill Cosby philosophized, “That married couples can live together day after day is a miracle the Vatican has overlooked.”
Others are quite cynical, even pathetic, like Woody Allen who said, “Marriage is the death of hope.”
The immensely wealthy J. Paul Getty once said, “I hate to be a failure. I hate and regret the failure of my marriages. I would gladly give all my millions for just one lasting marital success.”
Some observations, in retrospect, are wistful and poignant. Diana, Princess of Wales, once said, “I think like any marriage, especially when you’ve had divorced parents like myself, you’d want to try even harder to make it work.”
Benjamin Franklin was both humorous and wise: “One good husband is worth two good wives, for the scarcer things are, the more they are valued.” He also quipped, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-shut afterwards.”
Dr. Joyce Brothers advised that “marriage is not just spiritual communion; it is also remembering to take out the trash.”
Louis K. Anspacher said that “marriage is that relation between man and woman in which the independence is equal, the dependence mutual, and the obligation reciprocal.”
According to Barbara De Angelis, “The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make—not just on your wedding day, but over and over again—and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.”
Regardless of their marital status or history, most people have opinions on the subject of marriage. Sadly, some people can speak of it only if they talk about divorce in the same breath.
Once when some Pharisees approached Jesus, they asked him first not about marriage but about divorce (Mk 10:2-12). Jesus, though, answered with some strong statements about God’s view of marriage. God brings people together in marriage, Jesus said. It is a spiritual agreement, a covenant.
Scripture acknowledges that marriages will be tested. People in your family, Bible study group, larger church family and circle of friends can attest to that truth. Within any group that gathers are likely those involved in marriages on either end of the health spectrum and at all points in between. For some, talking about God’s ideal for marriage is painful.
The good news for all is that genuine discipleship redefines the marriage relationship, just as it redefines everything else. And that means the birth, and rebirth, of hope.
You may find the following articles helpful as you lead others in exploring biblical teachings about marriage:
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.