UNTIL DEATH DO US PART
"Do you take this young woman [man] whose right hand you now hold to be your lawfully wedded wife [husband]; to love her [him], to cherish her [him], in sickness or in health, in prosperity or adversity, for better or for worse; do you promise to be true to her [him], forsaking all others and cleave unto her [him] and her [him] only until death do us part?"
Without hesitation, but perhaps with quivering lips, the answer comes -- "I do." The legal statement connecting them is stated and then, usually, the statement, "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
I have gone through this hundreds of times, my first being back in 1945. Some of these I have managed to keep track of. Others are scattered all over the country. It is always with a rather sick feeling that I hear of one of these unions being dissolved. Preachers are not just "marrying Sams," looking for a fee; all the preachers I know are somewhat careful about the ceremonies they perform because they are deeply concerned with the eternal welfare of the participants. The world in general has forsaken its marriage vows. The home teeters on the brink of total destruction. Family life is no more. The most pitiable thing about this situation is that God's people are joining the world rather than influencing the world to join them. Preachers are anxiously looking for loop-holes in God's divine arrangement pertaining to the marital state. In so doing, they are perverting scripture, dividing churches and leading many to eternal destruction.
"Buy the truth and sell it not" was the inspired admonition of the wise man. I am persuaded that he was not, exclusively, talking about "truth" as it pertains to the way of salvation. I think he was talking about truth, honesty, in all situations. Truth is a scarce commodity on the world market today, but there are still a few, especially among Christians, that regard truth to be as valuable as Solomon labeled it.
Here's what I am getting at: when we spoke or agreed to those marital conditions as set forth in the ceremony, the exchange of vows, were we telling the truth, telling a lie, or playing the hypocrite? After all, these vows are sacred promises, pronounced and agreed to "before God and the assembled witnesses."
Young unmarried people, read the wording of that vow you will some day be called on to exchange with your chosen one. Look at the tremendous responsibility to which you will agree. Ask yourself: are you ready to assume the obligations of marriage? Talk it over with that "one of your heart" with which you expect to spend a life-time. Is he [she] ready also? If not, then the marriage is doomed from the beginning.
Young married people: look over again the vows you exchanged. Did you mean what you said when you made this most holy promise? Did you understand? Or, did you lie about it?
Older people are now getting divorces because the children are raised, married, and away from home. Well, was your vows made to be faithful for your children's sake, or to be faithful until they were grown, or to be faithful to your mate regardless of what hardships or idiosyncrasies he or she might have?
Parents, try to get your children to read this little article. It might help -- it might not. But something must be done to restore God's will in the marriage relationship.
The good Lord willing, when, and if, January 1, 2002, comes around next year, my wife and I will have completed 65 years of wedlock. Sixty-five years of heart-ache, sorrow, hard financial times, sickness and a limited number of little spats. But on the credit side is sixty-five years of shared happiness, joy and contentment. After sixty-five years, we appreciate more fully than ever the meaning of the four letter word, "love." It is not hugging and kissing, nor sex, but the joy of a companionship with someone you trust; just a look, a smile, a touch -- and thankfulness for someone who loves me in spite of my shortcomings -- just like the marriage vow said: "For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in adversity or in prosperity -- until death do us part!"
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