To have and to hold

January 25, 2014 5:27 PM

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THOUGH marriage was ordained or instituted by God, it is not mandatory for everyone. Therefore we dare not overlook the positives of singleness. From history we learn that many accomplishments and inventions were made before marriage.

A study done by Satoshi Kanazawa, a University of Canterbury psychologist, concluded after his research of 280 of the world's greatest scientists that: "Scientists rather quickly desist (from their careers) after marriage, while unmarried scientists continue to make great scientific contributions later in their lives".

The same pattern is seen in other areas of life, music, art and other disciplines including religion. For example, Daniel, Paul and Jesus never got married. This is to say, singleness can be good and therefore the pressure that some societies put on other folk that they must get married at all costs is not always warranted.

In the book of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul mentions four times that it is good to remain single, verse 1, verse 7, verse 8 and verse 26. Jesus also emphasises this point. Matthew 19:12: "For there were eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this let him accept it".

In the ancient times, Kings had male staff who were castrated so they do not mess about with the females in the palace, including the queen. For example John the Baptist and Paul were single because of their own choices for the kingdom of heaven's sake (Jesus's reason #3). Daniel was made single because of man-made loss (Jesus's reason #2). Jesus was single because of His unique mission in life. (Jesus's reason #1) Therefore, although we will be talking about marriage and relationships it must be emphasised that singleness has its own advantages. We must not underestimate the value and opportunities that being single affords.

Some people say marriage is a universal desire and headache, those on the outside want to get in, and those in the inside want to get out! Some men are immature and confused about this subject while many women are desperate and hurting. So we're all caught up in this dysfunction. The question is why are we in this state? Some suggest there's no love (but what is love?), no communication, no financial security, no respect etc. Certainly, all these are symptoms of a problem, but what is the problem?

The reason for all this is the secularisation of marriage. Marriage is no longer viewed as a Divine institution, but rather as a social institution, just like the Sabbath. These two are mentioned in the same breath because they are the two institutions that God initiated for the benefit of man-kind in the Garden of Eden; the seventh day Sabbath and Marriage and both declared holy. Unfortunately, some Christians claim that the Sabbath is for the Jews. If that be the case, then marriage must also is for the Jews, and they must give up their spouses. In fact, both the Sabbath and marriage were blessed and sanctified for all humanity.

Small wonder then that both are secularised and under attack today. The Sabbath is no longer the Holy day of the Lord but holiday of man. Hence folk would say, "Today is my Sabbath" as if any man can create their own Sabbath or make anything holy. We can make our own Sabbaths and keep them "holy" till we're blue in the face but know that will not make them holy. Only God can make anything holy. God says keep 'the' Sabbath holy. Though I'm not English major, this I know; 'the' is a definite article and it's different to 'a' Sabbath.

Marriage has been secularised from a permanent sacred covenant to a temporary social contract. A covenant is a permanent commitment, witnessed and guaranteed by God. A contract, on the other hand, is an agreement to render or receive certain goods or services to another. It's like, "I marry you to come cook or pay the bills for me." If one party breaches their end, the other can walk. Remember marriage is a vow; "I ... do take thee ... to be my lawful wedded wife/husband and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses to live together with thee after God's own ordinance in the holy state of matrimony. To have thee, hold thee, love thee, and honour thee. I do solemnly promise to be thy faithful loving wife/husband... till death us do part." Alas, today we write our own vows, which is a compromise on its own, and even sign prenuptial agreements that if the other spouse snores in their sleep I am out of here and will receive so much money.

Genesis 2:24. "Leaving" means that all lesser relationships must give way to the newly formed marital relationship, including our dependence on our parents and their influence, authority and attitude. And to cleave, which is to permanently glue things together, to his bride. There is therefore no coming out at a whim. On the basis of Genesis 2, God's plan for marriage is monogamous, heterosexual and permanent and this is not a homophobic statement. It's just truth. Any other way is a recipe for disaster and headache. You're just waiting.

Genesis 2:8-9 is an account about the first home. Four types of trees are mentioned as in the garden before God performed the first example of a marriage; trees pleasing to the sight, trees good for food and that of knowledge of good and evil. What lesson can we learn? We need to keep our homes tidy, clean and neat, thus pleasant to the eye. Take care of the small things. Trees good for food; that is, food at home. If you girls don't know how to cook you're not ready for marriage yet. The man must also understand his role as the provider-in-chief, primarily. Tree of life ... Jesus. Let Him be the centre of your home. Tree knowledge ... the choice remains yours.

This is for those women who would like to build Godly homes. Why women? Because though marriage is every woman's dream, it has become today a nightmare to many of them. Somehow the men get away with it and manage to come out of it less scarred. So far love has not been mentioned. It's because the word 'love' has been prostituted. One will say, 'I love ice cream instead of 'I like ice cream' so love has become taste. 'I love a Volvo', love is preference; ' I love painting' it has become a hobby; 'I love my child' it's become fond; 'making love' it's become sex. So love means different things to different people and it's confusing.

Three scriptures have been chosen. John 4:7 "... give me a drink"; 1Kings 17:10 "give me a little water ...". Genesis 24:17 "… let me drink a little water". One thread runs through these accounts; a request for a little water. Reading further you know that they got a lot more in return of giving that "little water". The woman at the well got living water in return; the widow of Zarephath, her and the son's lives were saved and had so much oil she even sold some to her neighbours.

What about Genesis 24? In God's plan for relationships, marriage and life in general, there are no non-essentials. Little things of life hold the key to greatness and success. We shall look at what it took for Abraham to find a good wife for his son Isaac.

2) a virgin, a solid character (verse 16) - pure moral compass....some people make mistakes along the way but soon learn from them and become spiritual virgins and wonderful home builders.

3) Hardworking and courteous. She addressed this stranger as 'my lord'. (verse18) What are you doing with someone who is disrespectful and swears, even a bit?

So what? Be willing to stoop down and make service to other people second nature. Pay attention when someone asks for these little things. "A little drink" you don't know who is requesting. In Rebecca's case it was Eliezer, a servant of Abraham who was a friend of God. For the widow; Elijah, a prophet of God. For the woman at the well; Jesus, the Son of God. Pay attention, that person could be instrumental in your life or career. Little things are important always: morning, (Elijah) afternoon (Jesus), evening. (Eliezer) so the test may come anytime. Make kindness a general attitude, not an occasional act. I imagine that when Rebecca did the act, heaven decided that she should be the great, great, great, grand mother of Jesus.

Success in this life, success in gaining the future life, depends upon a faithful, conscientious attention to the little things. You can live without the fear of a broken heart and broken home if you pay attention to little things. A little kindness, a little gentleness, a little thank you.. It's not in cars and houses but in little things. Ultimately, the choice is your.


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