I spoke recently to a couple that has been married for 62 years. That's right: sixty-two years. The dear woman said to me, "Patrick, do you know what the key is to making marriage last?" "What is it?" I asked. "Learning to keep a promise," she said.
People enter into marriage in our day with more of a "we'll give this a shot" attitude than a "for better or worse until death separates us" one. Why do we have abortion? It traces back to the fact that people's love has grown cold. Life to modern Americans is about personal fulfillment, pleasure, recreation, and self-actualization. We don't see life as God commands us to: Philippians 2:3 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." Many have simply decided not to marry at all. What's the point? Actress Cameron Diaz was asked recently if she thinks marriage is a dying institution. She responded:
I do. I think we have to make our own rules. I don't think we should live our lives in relationships based off old traditions that don't suit our world any longer.
Mom. Dad. Children. A home. Who needs them? Those are old school, traditional, outdated institutions that don't "suit" our world any longer. So, what about the "let's just shack up occasionally" mentality of the Hollywood elite and of Americans in general? What about this whole "marriage is outdated and children are a lifestyle option" way of life? What is the end result of this?
In the lives of such people, is there any real sense of belonging? Is there a sense of connection with anyone? Is there a place that is called “home” because of the permanence of the relationships found there instead of how much money we’ve invested remodeling a drywall enclosure? Are there ties to anyone that cannot be broken? What is man without permanent relationships? He is utterly selfish, self-centered, and self-destructive. Who will mourn Cameron Diaz when she dies? Will her lifelong companion who was by her side “for better or worse" be there to see her off? Will her children and grandchildren gather around her so she can bless them and encourage them as she draws her final breaths? Sadly, those whose love is so cold they can never commit to anyone will find themselves destitute and alone in those final hours. Everyone they knew, everyone they shacked up with, everyone who came and went in their lives will be busily ignoring them as they die. And those ignoring them will also die friendless and alone.
A world that hates God's wisdom and design in the family will become drunk on death (Proverbs 8:36b) and will leave a world of desolation behind them. They will have few or no descendants since they wanted none, no vision since they had none, no permanent relationships that required any degree of self-giving and self-sacrifice on their part since they dismissed them as unsuited for our world, no legacy except shame, and no love because their hearts were cold. Psalm 49:20 says, "A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish."
Contrast Cameron Diaz with John Calvin's words about his wife which he wrote upon her death:
And truly mine is no common source of grief. I have been bereaved of the best companion of my life, of one who, had it been so ordered, would not only have been the willing sharer of my extreme poverty, but even of my death. During her life she was the faithful helper of my ministry. From her I never experienced the slightest hindrance. She was never troublesome to me throughout the entire course of her illness; she was more anxious about her children than about herself. As I feared these private cares might annoy her to no purpose, I took occasion, on the third day before her death, to mention that I would not fail in discharging my duty to her children. Taking up the matter immediately, she said, 'I have already committed them to God…. I know you will not neglect what you know has been committed to God.'
Such words will be written or spoken by no one concerning the Cameron Diazes of the world. Duty. That's a word Americans have long forgotten. We are a culture that insists on avoiding duty at all costs. Cut yourself loose of all responsibility and obligation. The sad reality is that a world without duty, responsibility, and obligation is a world whose love is cold. Marriage and human relationships are at the center of what God created man to be - first and foremost our communion and relationship to Almighty God Himself. The current despising of marriage is actually just another way of attacking God. But those who detest what God has called blessed will reap the dreadful consequences of such rejection in this life and the next. They will be unloved in life and unsung in death. What is there to sing about those who live lives of perpetual adolescence? A culture that sees marriage as a burden and children as a curse will soon disappear and be forgotten. But it is my most earnest prayer that God will do a work in our day to awaken Christian people from their sleepiness with regard to marriage and children and arise once again to call blessed what God calls blessed: marriage, children, truth, and the worship of the true God. When that happens atrocities like abortion and public disgraces like the specter of homosexual marriage will at last come to an end - because those in favor of both will have killed themselves off and those who loved marriage and life will cover the earth as a deluge of righteousness.