God is so good. You may not believe it, but 47 years ago this week, I married my wife. That reality has caused me to reflect, and my, how times have changed.
It used to be that as children grew up, marriage and family were most important values for adulthood. But in a recent survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau, those goals were radically challenged. In that survey, young adults were asked about the importance of various life transitions.
Here’s what the young adults said about transitions were “extremely important” to them:
Completed formal schooling — 62%
Employed full-time — 52%
Capable of supporting a family financially — 50%
Financially independent from parents — 43%
No longer living in parents’ house — 26%
Getting married — 12%
In interpreting that data, blogger Rod Dreher comments: “Stunning. Less than half of Americans aged 18-34 say marriage and family are part of being an adult. All the other factors have to do with achieving personal autonomy. To be an adult, then, is to be free to exercise one’s will independently of obligations to others, including spouse and children. To choose spouse and children—formerly the most distinctive marks of adulthood — is now considered ancillary to adulthood by most American adults.”
One question that continues to plague us is simply, “Why?” Why are children growing up and NOT valuing family and marriage for themselves in their adult years? May I suggest it is because they have not had good role models?
A few years ago, Ira Glass, the podcast host on “This American Life” podcast, interviewed a marriage therapist named Esther Perel. During the interview, Mr. Glass asked Dr. Perel, “I was wondering if, in your line of work, it makes you feel hopeful for most couples, and hopeful for the idea of people finding what they want with their partners?”
Perel, who has counseled thousands of married couples, said: “You know, the thing that just popped in my head is I have days where I have faith in humanity and days when I don’t. I’ll answer you from a different angle. I once wanted to write an article on couples that inspire. And I asked about 60, 70 people, at the time, if they knew of couples that inspired them. And the vast majority could sometimes come up with one.”
Dr. Perel went on to say, “I never wrote the piece, but it’s the answer to your question, right? It’s that we can see some couples who are very good at this and some couples who are very good at that, but we don’t have that many models where we just say, wow, this is who I want to be, how I want to be.”
Some years ago a dispute arose in Britain between Foreign Office and the Treasury. The argument was about which British ambassadors would be provided with a Rolls-Royce for their official duties in a foreign capital.
The Treasury unsurprisingly wanted these wonderful cars restricted to a few — perhaps Washington, Moscow, and Paris. The Foreign Office argued for many more based on the following reasoning: most people in a foreign capital have never been to Britain, they said. But when they see this magnificent car gliding through their streets with the United Kingdom flag on the hood, they will say to themselves, “I have not been to Britain. I don’t know much about Britain. But if they make cars like that there … then Britain must be a wonderful place.”
In a similar way, it is Christ’s hope that men and women may say to themselves as they watch a Christian marriage, “I have never seen God, sometimes I wonder, when I look at the world, if God is good, or if there is a God. But if he can make a man and a woman love one another like this; if he can make this husband show costly faithfulness through sickness as well as health; if he can give him resources to love his wife with Christ-like sacrifice; well, then he must be a good God. And if Christ can give this wife grace to submit so beautifully, with such an attractive spirit, then again he must be a good God.”
I believe I can quite frankly and honestly say that God has blessed my bride and me in exactly this way in our years together. I’m not sure that I would call it a Rolls-Royce, but it is close!
Some couples reading this have been marred much longer than 47 years. Some much less, and some of you may not have had that privilege at all, but none of that diminishes the statement that marriage is a gift from God and God is good in providing just the right amount of grace, mercy, and forgiveness to make it through each day, each year, each decade.
Whether married or not, what we have is from God, and we should praise Him for every second of it!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at email@example.com.