On Oct. 6, my wife and I will be celebrating 40 years of “holy Christian marriage.” It’s a blessing that we do not take for granted. Holy Christian marriage is a sacred institution, not a human idea.

The Bible tells us that marriage is a divine order of creation, not an invention of the state. In the Beginning, God created marriage and established it for the good of His beloved creation. Marriage benefits and blesses not only the husband and the wife, but also the family, the children, the community and the world.

When asked about divorce, Jesus redirected the conversation. “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:6-9).

Addressing the subject of marriage, Jesus quotes two passages of Scripture, both from the creation story in the book of Genesis (1:27 & 2:24). The Old Testament and the New Testament are of one mind when it comes to holy Christian marriage. Jesus emphasizes God’s will, God’s intent for marriage; namely, that married couples, one man and one woman, share a lifelong, monogamous union of holiness and grace. Though human beings fall short of this ideal, we nevertheless still strive for God’s will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

St. Paul, quoting Genesis 2:24, reminds us that holy Christian marriage is a “profound mystery.” This mystery cannot be explained, but it can be experienced and proclaimed. When husbands and wives submit to one another out of reverence for Christ; when husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave his life for her salvation; and when wives respect their husbands; then the world sees a reflection of Christ and His church. Holy Christian marriage is intended to be a mirror whereby the world sees the love of Jesus for His bride the church. From the beginning, God designed marriage to be a Gospel picture of Christ and the church.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, in their book, Trading Places write: “In August of 2006, Newsweek magazine profiled the lives of Ruth & Billy Graham — not their historic crusades and international impact, but their life as an elderly couple approaching their final chapters on earth. As we read the article together, we were struck by the incredible quality of their marriage. ‘At night we have time together,” Billy says. ‘We pray together and read the Bible together every night. It’s a wonderful period of life for both of us. We’ve never had a love like we do now — we feel each other’s hearts.’”

Christians pray for holy Christian marriage, and seek to protect husbands and wives, and parents and children from harm. It’s been forty years. Where has the time gone? Our marriage is a gift, a sacred trust from God. We don’t believe that luck or good fortune brought us together, or kept us together. Where we have failed, it’s all been our sin. Where we have succeeded, it’s all been God’s grace. “Grace has brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.” Holy Christian marriage offers each of us the love of Jesus. “Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” In Christ Jesus, the BEST awaits us all, in and for all eternity. Happy anniversary!

David Steffenson is pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Rochester, a mission congregation of the North American Lutheran Church. Pulpit runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Life Editor Jeff Pieters at 285-7748 or life@postbulletin.com.

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