DEL CITY, Okla. (BP)–A once-popular Country/Western duet opened with an admission that the two married “in a fever.” They were not alone. Today’s crumbling marriages are evidence that, more often than not, couples enter marriage with little time given to the foundation upon which they hope to build a union that will last a lifetime.
Good homes, like good houses, both require and deserve a proper foundation. This truth was vividly illustrated several years ago while I was making an “emergency run” to the home of a family in crisis.
The summer heat, beat back by the straining air conditioner, was no match for the discussion being carried on in the living room. I had been in the home before but never under these circumstances. A seemingly stable, faithful family was falling apart.
The children had been packed off to their grandparents for less than an hour when the argument began. When words like “divorce” and phrases like “no love left in my heart” began to be thrown about like the punches of a desperate boxer, the grieving wife had picked up the phone and called the preacher. Now I was bargaining for a delay, calmness, an opportunity to see what God could do.
I don’t remember everything I said in my attempt to buy time for a miracle. But I do remember afterward standing on the couple’s front porch, trying my best to convey a sense of hope. In a lame attempt to change subjects, the husband pointed to a crack in the brick veneer, a crack I traced, first up to the roofline, then as it meandered all the way to the foundation which had settled and cracked. Here was a house that would be hard to sell if a divorce occurred. Who wants a house with poor foundation?
That house with its settling foundation and cracking veneer was the least of their worries. Their home was in a far more serious condition than their house. The pressures of life were revealing the simple fact that this family, like the house in which they lived, was built on something other than a solid foundation. Now the cracks were numerous and exaggerated. The couple despaired of there ever being a way to repair them.
Nothing is more critical to a building than its foundation. Everything rests upon it. Beautiful buildings have been abandoned because they rested upon poor foundations. I once saw a cartoon which depicted two stone masons, trowels in hand, discussing a building being erected immediately behind them.
“I skimped a little on the foundation,” said one, “but no one will ever notice.” A closer look revealed the building to be none other than what would ultimately be known as the “leaning” Tower of Pisa!
Marriage ceremonies can involve an incredible expenditure of time, energy, emotion … oh yes, and money. Doesn’t the institution of marriage itself deserve at least equal time? After all, the ceremony is just the initial celebration for what is meant to be a lifetime of happiness. Shouldn’t appropriate consideration be given to the foundation upon which the future will be built?
No marriage can possibly be all God intends unless both husband and wife possess an intimate, saving relationship with Christ — a relationship which brings them together in the experiences of prayer, worship and faithful service to him. This truth is simply stated in the Scripture. “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1
Corinthians 3:11 NASB). Christ is the foundation upon which everything else in the marriage must be built. Fail here and the marriage will never enjoy God’s best, even if the couple should happen to still be married at the end of life’s journey.
More than 28 years ago, I began insisting that couples asking me to conduct their marriage ceremony must agree, up front, to participate in a session in which I discuss with them the scriptural prerequisites for marriage, focusing on this simple fact: Since marriage is God’s idea and God’s institution, it is imperative that the bride and groom each know Christ as Savior AND possess a vital, dynamic relationship with him as Lord. Given the current proliferation of divorce, the results of this insistence (and the accompanying counseling) has been nothing less than astounding! When a couple is determined to start out right and build on God’s principles, they are on the road to a relationship that can stand all the tests life throws at it.
From Tom Elliff’s soon-to-be-released book, “Seven Pillars of a Kingdom Family.” Elliff is chairman of the SBC Council on Family Life which, in conjunction with LifeWay Christian Resources and the SBC Pastors’ Conference, is hosting the Kingdom Family Rally Monday night, June 17, 2003, in Phoenix, just prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.