Over the years as a pastor, I’ve had the privilege of performing a number of weddings. These are joyous occasions and I always feel a burden to say something profound and meaningful. I probably fail to accomplish this most of the time, but I try. The best wedding sermons usually contain some form of “advice”, and the best advice comes from the heart. I always try to share some profound piece of wisdom gleaned from my experience as a husband or from my own observations as a pastor, counselor and friend. There’s always one thing I am eager to share with people who are getting married: I always remind them that their commitment to their marriage is more important than their commitment to their spouse.
My wife, Susie, is quick to point out that this advice seems a bit harsh for a wedding sermon. Maybe she’s right, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be committed to a happy, loving marriage, even before you ever decide who you want to partner with in that marriage. In fact, I think it’s important to be more committed to a happy, loving marriage than you are to your spouse. I grew up in a broken home; my parents divorced when I was three years old. Growing up, however, I was fully aware of the fact that both my parents loved me deeply. They spent time with me, helped me whenever I needed help and did everything (and more) that could be asked of a parent. But they weren’t married, and this fact presented me with a number of challenges over the years. I had a fine childhood, but there is no doubt that it would have been much better if my parents had been able to stay together in a loving relationship.
The value of such a marriage is often underestimated and underappreciated. Surveys and studies repeatedly confirm, however, children do best (in virtually every conceivable area of measurement) when raised by their two biological parents in a low conflict setting. Loving married families are better for kids than loving divorced families. Loving married families are better for kids than loving blended families. Marriage matters.
Those of us who care deeply about marriage usually express that concern by focusing our attention and commitment on our spouse. But let’s face it, there are times during a marriage when our relationship with our spouse may be less than ideal. Every marital relationship has ups and downs; peaks and valleys. There are times when we enjoy each other greatly and times when we enjoy each other “less greatly”. If you’re married, you know what I mean. It’s easy to be committed to your spouse in the good times, but in the hard times, it’s important to remain committed to your marriage, even when you may not feel that great about your spouse. Marriage is more important than the person you happened to be married to.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. It’s my hope that my commitment to a loving, happy marriage results in a deep, committed, loving relationship with my wife. Commitment to one, results in commitment to the other. It’s possible to be in love with your spouse without being in love with marriage. But when times get tough and your love for your spouse is tested, it’s far easier to walk away from him or her if you don’t value marriage above everything else. If a happy, loving marriage is your goal, you’ll take great care to make sure your relationship with your spouse is in good shape.
As Christians, we ought to be examples to the world around us. We, of all people, ought to understand that our vow to our spouses is actually a contract with God, the transcendent Creator of the Universe.