By Cindy Koch –
His eyes were focused and nervous as he watched that beautiful woman brought to him from the back of the room. Her father held her arm, proudly and sadly, as she walked out her childhood into a new life with another man. Her heart was happy and scared as she slowly stepped closer to this defining moment of union. Quiet smiles, hopeful hearts, kind wishes surround the man and woman who have come here to be married.
But too many of us know that this pretty scenery does not last. Months, years, decades after those heartfelt vows, we have watched such happy marriages crumble. Lost loves, failed unions, broken promises, marriages just don’t seem to last anymore. I know, it’s her fault, it’s his fault, they were too young, too many issues, they didn’t work hard enough. Yes, there are lots of reasons we have that a marriage seems not to work out in the end. But the secret of marriage is hiding in plain view from the very beginning.
But it’s not a special formula or a kitschy piece of advice to live your married life by. It’s not your pre-screened compatibility or your financial security together. It’s not a well-written vow proclaimed publicly, nor is it your ability to live out your love in the best way possible. The secret to marriage is in a few insignificant words that are tripped over on the way to the reception party.
After the man and woman exchange rings, vows, promises to each other, an outside voice enters into their little world. No longer is this a nice little private conversation between a man and woman in love. No, this moment is about to get really strange. A loud external voice creates something new that was not there before. “Husband and wife,” he calls them. For the first time in their personal relationship together, this other voice names them a new thing together. “One flesh,” he says to the happy couple on this marriage day. And if that wasn’t enough, the pastor now proclaims the secret of marriage we all have been waiting to hear.
“What God has joined together, let no man separate.”
God just did a great thing for this man and woman! By the humble words of his servant, God created union. As incredible as forming man from the dust of the earth, as amazing as building woman from the rib of the man, God now joined these creations to be one flesh. But the secret of marriage is an unnatural way for a sinner like me.
Because the secret of marriage is a lifetime of listening to a voice that is not your own. The secret of marriage is believing a word about yourself that might even run contrary to the desires of your heart. The secret of marriage is that God has done something to you. His creative word has made you one flesh with another person. And the secret of marriage never promised this would be easy.
God joined together a man and wife, two sinners in His broken creation. They will laugh, cry, dance, fight, eat, and work together side by side. But the danger in their whole marriage is that they will certainly forget the little secret of who God called them to be for each other. He will forget that is own flesh is starving for connection as she sits home alone waiting for him to return. She will forget that her own flesh is wasting away in lust when he is denied sex yet again. He will forget that his own flesh is suffocating under a blanket of righteous expectations. She will forget her own flesh is slowly dying just to provide for his family.
But what God has joined together He has not left alone. Even from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, man and woman were not abandoned to their own selfish ideas of what God had joined together. God promised an end to the struggle. God promised victory to a savior. And so, God covers up his naked and ashamed newlyweds. He spilled innocent blood in the Garden of Eden for the sake of His beloved couple. Here, man and wife remembered again the secret of marriage: God has joined them together, and together they are covered by His mercy.
So the secret of marriage was never really a secret at all. It was not our clever idea to begin with. God joins one to another by His Word. God promised His Son as a covering for our whole sinful, shameful body. We proclaim it to both our self or our spouse, since God has called them one flesh. And the secret is to simply trust what He has said. We have been made to love and care and remember and forgive each other in Christ, because God has joined us together.