What builds a strong society? Is it a booming economy with a high standard of living, adequate educational funding, or wise foreign policies? All of these are great, but other than a culture-wide reverence for God, the single most significant determinant of a strong society is its prevalence of stable, life-long marriages.
“Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9)
Why is this? Think of a mature tree with large overhanging branches and deep, far-reaching roots. One not unlike that described here:
“…a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky…Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches…” (Daniel 4:10-12 NIV)
Each family begins with only one man and one woman who determine to spend their lives together. “…A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh…” (Mark 10:7, 8, NIV)
It may not be easy because marriages are made up of normal, sin-prone people–it may, in fact, be very hard, depending on the individuals involved.
Yet, if they obey God and persevere, over the years this tiny two-person family will become a mini-dynasty. It will have become a large, thriving tree with the deep and thick roots of common shared experience and intimate knowledge of each other gained only through the passage of time, and with the branches of children, grandchildren, and possibly even great-grandchildren–each with their own lives and families extending ever-outward toward the sky. What an incredible picture!
Now, imagine a forest of such trees all growing next to each other, their roots intertwining and their branches overlapping against the sun. There is not much that can prevail against it! That is what a society comprised of families who have stuck it out over the years through thick and thin is like. There is a stability, both individually, because each tree is solidly grounded, and societally, because of the strength of the family units.
Yet the irony is that when you’re in the middle of a bad marriage it’s very difficult to see that far ahead. It may, in fact, seem impossible to imagine anything good coming from your current situation. In a disposable consumer product-oriented society such as ours there is a tendency to suppose there are “good” and “bad” spouses (just like there are good and bad products), and to assume that we just got stuck with a “bad one”–hence the high divorce rate and continued search for that elusive “good one.”
And while it is easier to live with someone who submits to the authority of God, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, they’re supposed to be a keeper. Each and every human being has flaws, yet God can use the specific person we have chosen to chisel and polish our characters–as we ourselves personally submit to Christ through even the most unpleasant times–into the image of Christ, which is His goal for us. And, as we commit to our marriage and continue to grow into the person God wants us to be, we will find our love for our spouse and concern for their eternal destiny growing as the years pass, as Christ fulfills His purpose in our family, and in society through it.
Help me be faithful to my spouse, in my thoughts as well as with my body. Bless our marriage, and may it fulfill Your purposes. Let it grow into a well-rooted and wide-branching building block of a stable society. Amen.