As a professing Christian, I look to Holy Scriptures for guidance on marriage as well as on other social issues. Ninety years of observation also impacts my views. Nevertheless, my personal experiences are very limited, and I’m certain that some readers will consider my comments somewhat quaint and superficial.
Marriage is not treated consistently in the Bible. As you probably know, most heroes of the Old Testament practiced polygamy. In the nomadic society of those early times, and with the high infant mortality rates, perhaps that was the best way to ensure a family’s survival. But even in that era of complex family structures, the Lord God promulgated certain rules for sexual morality that were supposed to be adhered to by His people.
From New Testament times and continuing up until recent centuries, monogamous marriages became the norm (at least in the West), and they were usually arranged. Romantic love, when it existed, either developed within a marriage or sprang up in some extra-marital attachment; and in some Western societies these extra-marital affairs were quite common. Yet, the Christian scriptures gave us instruction as to what a true marriage should be. The husband should be head of the household, and it is his duty to love and protect his wife. The wife, in turn, was to honor and obey her husband. Neither the Old nor New Testament defined the love of husband for wife in romantic terms, but those who read relevant passages in the New Testament also read the Song of Solomon and knew what romantic love was.
From the New Testament model, we know what a marriage of believers ought to be. It is a union between a man and a woman who love and respect each other, and it provides a home in which children can be reared and instructed in the faith. Hopefully, there is also true romantic love in that union, being, in a sense, icing on the cake.
In modern Western nations marriages are not usually arranged but come out of some sort of pre-nuptial romantic attachment. Some think this development is an improvement, but others are not so sure. I do believe, however, that when a young couple conceive themselves to be hopelessly in love, they should not be denied the opportunity to marry.
One thing I do believe. Marriage vows are to be taken seriously. When I said “I do.” I truly meant “in sickness and in health, till death do you part.” No marriage is perfect, and it can truly be described as an up and down business. There are good times, and there are hard times. If there is romantic love, it tends to become less passionate. Everyday life can become stale and predictable. As a man, you might encounter a nubile young woman who entices you. Your wife might be similarly pulled in another direction. Gradually, you both become old and physically less attractive. Through it all, remember that you made a vow to God and each other. I will never leave you! I will always love you!
Sexual intimacy is something very special. Promiscuity cheapens the experience. Once married, sex outside the marriage is a betrayal of your mate. I thank God that I kept my marriage vows. I loved my wife Ann, and I was faithful to her. I took joy in our time together. I look forward to our reunion in heaven.
Many are not so fortunate in their marriages. It takes two to tango, and sometimes the other partner is not willing to dance. The relationship might be turbulent and unhappy. Your spouse may be unfaithful or wish to end the marriage for other reasons. Perhaps the fault lies in you. You can only do your very best to honor your commitment. If the marriage fails, nurse your wounds, be honestly self-critical, and look for someone you can truly love – and who loves you. And remember, God will not turn away from you because of your failures. None of us is sinless, and a Christian may truly be described as a forgiven sinner.
Of course, many persons never marry. Perhaps it is a lack of opportunity, or there may be other impediments to marriage. Sometimes, singleness may be a deliberate choice. Marriage is not essential to a happy and fulfilling life, nor is it a guarantee that it will be.
Married or not, I wish each of you love and happiness. May the good Lord bless you and give you his perfect peace.