This week the country’s oldest living First Lady died. Living in Georgia most of my life, I know her story, popularity, and her legendary marriage. Even after leaving the office of public servant, the couple continued to work together to help others in the community.
She had a servant’s heart and understood what the Bible meant by putting others first, whether it was her husband and family or strangers. I believe we can learn a lot from the example set by the former first couple.
The Carters were passionate about meeting the needs of others. They are famous for their work with Habitat for Humanity. I have worked on three Habitat for Humanity builds myself and understand the hard work that goes into building a house.
A few years ago the Carters gave an interview about what it takes to build a strong and successful marriage of 75 years. Mr. Carter revealed that not only did they “Read the Bible together every day, they put in the work needed for a successful marriage.”
Marriage is a human commitment that is supposed to be stronger than any other human relationship; relationships take work to make them stronger. Over a decade ago I had a chance to go back to Colorado to celebrate my father’s best friend’s wedding anniversary and the renewal of his wedding vows.
The priest offered some sage words of wisdom, “You can plan a wedding, but marriage takes work.” It’s no wonder Christianity has a lot to say about marriage. Marriage is the appropriate place for couples to have sex because of the intimate relationship between a husband and wife (1 Corinthians 7:1-40).
Husbands and wives are to honor each other and keep the marriage bed holy (Hebrews 13:4). The intimacy between a husband and wife is sacred because God brings them together and makes them one (Genesis 2:24).
Twenty years ago I listened to a Jewish speaker for Promise Keepers explain how Judaism considers marriage “holy,” he shared that it is a divine institution by God and for God.
Jewish marriage and the wedding are a little different than Western cultures. The first stage is the betrothal or Kiddushin which means holiness. Once this commitment is made, the couple is married. According to the Torah, the couple can be betrothed in one of three ways.
- A money or object of value transaction.
- A marriage document of intention.
- Sexual intercourse with the intention that it consummates the marriage.
However, the bride and groom are not permitted to live together until the second stage is complete. The nisu’in finalizes the wedding vows. Its rituals affirm the commitment made between the husband and wife in the Kiddushin, like a Thanksgiving celebration.
After, the betrothal it is the husband’s job to go and prepare a home for the couple to come together as one.
The marriage process is so holy, the New Testament writers use it to describe the relationship between God and the church. The church is the bride and our Lord is the bridegroom (John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7-9).
As a man, I understand the marriage analogy, because a man can know who he will marry, but will not make a move or further commit until he knows it is the right time and the bride is ready.
Throughout the Bible there is an expectation that God is working in preparing something for His people, we are constantly encouraged to be ready for it (Daniel 2:44, Matthew 24:36, John 14:1-31).
God’s timing isn’t like ours; there is testing in the waiting period. Some people will never be ready for the commitment of marriage. They aren’t willing to do the work.
- Be faithful
When Jesus defended the woman caught in the act of adultery, He mentioned the men she had been with and none of them were her husband. He tells her to go and sin no more (John 8:1-11).
She needed to do the work of marriage. As the people of God, conservatives need to do the work at home and in our communities because our commitment to God is holy(Kiddushin)!