People live together, have sex, share finances, have monogamous relationships, and even have children together but do not consider themselves to be married. People go to work dutifully at corporations and places of employment for upwards of 40 and 50 years, but do not consider themselves married to their jobs. So being loyal to the work in a relationship doesn’t make you married. What then sets marriage apart from these other relationships? The terms of the covenant. In the first example, people enter relationships all the time with no real expressed covenant. It’s often understood, even if not spoken, that either of them can split or go their separate way at any time they feel the need. In the second example of employment, there is a covenant, but it is based on work and some form of compensation and normally doesn’t require ordination by a higher authority like GOD, clergy, or a justice of the peace. Also, who has ever heard of someone taking a vacation from their marriage, or clocking out from being a spouse until the next day? We probably all have, but I would question if those relationships qualify as marriage at all. Another important difference to recognize is that everyone needs to work, but everyone does not need to be married. People should only enter a marriage covenant as a result of desiring to be joined to another, not because they need food or shelter, or some other necessity of life.
People are often praised and esteemed highly if they have been in marriage for many years. Many years of marriage used to be 20 or more years, but due to the pervasion of selfishness in recent times, this has been reduced to ten or more. The principle of quality over quantity has never had a more necessary application than that of marriage. One of my early mentors once said, “Marriage can be the closest thing you experience to either heaven or hell, while still on earth.” How many people have lived unhappily, unfulfilled, or miserably in a marriage relationship for many years, but stayed because divorce was considered a worse option? I have found that many people considering divorce really need to be considering remarriage, because the divorce has actually already taken place; it just has not been formalized. So, the real consideration is to either make the divorce official or to remarry all in this time. True marriage involves pursuing an intimate knowing of one another, but there are people who consider themselves to be married but are actually strangers, because they never share their true heart with one another. True marriage involves unity or becoming one, but there are couples who consider themselves to be married and they can’t agree or unite on hardly anything. True marriage involves sharing an expression of love for one another, which means each seeks to joyfully fulfill the other at the expense of self, but there are those who consider themselves to be married yet perform the necessities of marriage life grudgingly and painstakingly, only because they feel they have too.
I am speaking here about basic biblical marriage. If you are either unfamiliar with biblical teaching or do not believe the holy bible has authority, then your idea of marriage can be what ever you imagine. On the other hand, if you want your marriage to have the life-giving blessings of The Creator, The Most High, YAHWEH (the self-existent one), then there are some specific criteria that must be part of the covenant. For the body of Christ, the Church, one of the main misunderstandings leading to missing the mark and unfulfillment, is not understanding their own heart and coming to terms with what they really value. A drug addict looking to remain drug free, by focusing on not doing drugs, is still in bondage to drugs because it is still their main focus. A person not wanting to be a sinner, focusing on not committing sin is in bondage to sin because sin remains their main focus. A person just looking to remain married, focuses on avoiding problems and disagreements. They are not free to journey into the joyful depths of real marriage because they are focused on the minimums to avoid divorce. This is also bondage. Furthermore, this can bring about the very end they are trying to avoid because what you focus on becomes great in your life. The Apostle Paul talks about being a bondservant to Christ. This means every day, he lives his life thinking, “How can I get closer to Christ? How can I know Christ more? How can I please and be more of a blessing to Christ? How can I love Christ more? This form of bondage leads to indescribable freedom!
So, what is the key to entering real marriage? It is the same key to a fulfilling life with GOD.
SURRENDER, as a result of experiencing TRUE LOVE.
To be clear, I am not speaking of true love with your spouse, I am speaking of true love between a person and GOD. I am also not speaking of surrendering to your spouse but surrendering to GOD. There is a certain amount of mutual submission required between married couples to find harmony, but it will not happen joyfully if surrender to GOD does not come first. GOD is love, so you need union with Him before you can love anyone, including yourself. GOD must be your FIRST love. That is my desire for every human, whether you are considering true marriage or not. It is from the spring of love that flows from GOD that we have the hope, strength, desire, and knowledge to fulfill the covenant of the joyful marriage He has ordained. Only GOD is good. If you want to be a good husband or a good wife, and have a good marriage, don’t focus on your spouse, focus on GOD, and His goodness will permeate your life. It is this same spring that feeds a true civilized society. So then, what is true marriage? It is individuals expressing their relationship with GOD through physical and social intimacy, bound by a covenant, which He has authorized.