There were five divorces in his immediate family so his perspective on marriage was influenced by the high failure rate. The young man knew marriage was important, particularly for raising a family, but the results in his family were not encouraging. In his wisdom, it seemed rational that a couple should live together for a period of time to make sure a marriage would work. That was his plan but when he met the right young lady, she told him to talk with her dad about that.
The young man did not have enough conviction of his plan or theory to approach her dad. Fortunately, a father-figure in his life did have the conviction of a personal relationship with Christ to share with him. The man suggested that the failure of marriages in his family had more to do with the worldly contamination of selfishness in the relationships when marriage is really about selflessness. The advice was to keep the focus on a personal and passionate relationship with Jesus and learn to emulate His selfless, sacrificial relationship in marriage. It could be said that all marriage problems are really more personal Jesus problems.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. – Matthew 5:8. In his popular devotion book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “Purity is not innocence. … Purity is the result of continued spiritual harmony with God.” That makes staying chaste until marriage look like one simple step forward on the journey as a Christian. The relationship Jesus calls us to is a personal, passionate and growing relationship with Him. The stronger that relationship is, the closer we are to being in spiritual harmony with God. Spiritual harmony provides discernment in the midst of worldly influences and power to rebuke those at work to contaminate us.
Living together does not increase the likelihood of a marriage working. In fact, it has the opposite impact. Since the 1970’s, studies have found that living together before marriage could undercut a couple’s future happiness and ultimately lead to divorce. On average, researchers concluded that couples who lived together before they tied the knot saw a 33 percent higher rate of divorce than those who waited to live together until after they were married. Spiritual maturity and purity in a relationship gives a marriage strength beyond this world.
Prayer guide: My Father, thank You for your patience with me. My perspective on marriage and relationship issues have been limited to personal life experiences. The actions I have taken in prideful strength have been ineffective. Forgive me. The perspective You offer through Your Word opened the door to enter into a relationship with You as my Father, to grow in spiritual harmony with You. Thank You for helping me realize that healthy relationships are grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus the Christ. Grant me strength to emulate His selfless and sacrificial example in marriage and family. Amen.
A faithful father works to be pure in heart, in spiritual harmony with God.