The answer in the traditional wedding vow to this question is “till death do us part.” A few years ago I was reading through some sample wedding vows online and found one that read “till love dies.” That is certainly the vow many people seemingly mean even if it is not the one they promise, and the tabloid news gives us an example of this in one more brief celebrity marriage lasting 72 days. If it were just a matter of celebrities, I’m not sure it would be worth noting, but the evidence around us is that a biblical view of marriage is in trouble.
What is the evidence? The divorce rate for first time marriages is around 40% (it has been as high as 50%). Seventy percent of Americans were married in 1960. Now it is about 50 percent. In the 1960s, two-thirds of twenty year olds were married. Today it is about 26%. What has replaced marriage among young adults is living together. Cohabitation which was once rare is now the norm. Over half of marriages begin with cohabitation, yet couples who cohabit are more likely to divorce. Forty percent of births in the U.S. for 2007 were out of wedlock.
What does God’s word have to say? Here’s a small sampling:
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:6, ESV)
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4, ESV)
Let me summarize the Bible’s teaching on marriage.
- God designed marriage as the union of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 19:4-6)
- God desires that marriage be until death do us part. (Matthew 19:6)
- God permits divorce in the case of sexual immorality, but God hates divorce. (Matthew 19:9, Malachi 2:16 see NASB)
- God will judge sexual activity outside of marriage. They are the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4)
In today’s world, these verses are like a voice crying in the wilderness. Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear?