(First published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson, on March 29, 2014)

It’s that time of the year when wedding announcements start appearing in the newspaper and invitations start arriving in the mail. I can’t help but think of the pastor who asked the children what God said about marriage. A little boy answered, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Isn’t that the truth?!! Frankly, I prefer funerals to weddings. They pay more and last longer! Okay, I’m exaggerating a little…but I wish couples would invest just as much in their marriage as they do in their wedding. Here are some questions to consider:

1. Do you understand God’s plan of oneness in marriage? Many couples just have the urge to merge. They claim to have body chemistry…that typically turns into toxic waste. God’s plan for marriage is that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”(Gen. 2:24) That means being connected with your spouse in mind, body, and spirit. It is the opposite of isolation. Many marriages are just roommates living under the same roof. Nicole and I take time weekly to cultivate the oneness that God desires for us.

2. Do you know the role of the husband and wife? The husband is called to lead and the wife is called to follow. Sometimes I am tempted to ask the groom to take the ring out of his nose and put it on his bride’s finger! I’m not suggesting that “Bubba” should prop up his feet and demand his beer. To the contrary, the man should lead by serving his wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Eph. 5:25) As to the wife, she shouldn’t belittle her husband but respect him. (Eph. 5:33) Don’t forget – the greatest desire of a husband is to be respected and the greatest desire of a wife is to make her husband happy.

3. Do you know how to fight? Anytime I hear a couple say – “We’ve never had an argument,” I think – “Very soon, one of you is going to get tired of giving in.” No marriage is without its share of conflicts. Remember to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (James 1:19) Avoid throwing ultimatums like “If it happens again…” or keeping grudges overnight. Take every conflict to God in prayer and allow Him to bring healing and maturity. By the way, some conflicts are just not worth it. As someone said, “A bulldog can whip a skunk any day, but it’s not worth it!”

4. Do you know the difference between an instructor and a photographer? Maybe you heard of the student pilot who was waiting for his lesson. A man jumped in the cockpit with him and said, “Let’s head towards those mountains to the south and then fly as low as you can over the lake.” The student took off and the man started taking pictures. After a while the student asked, “Do you always take pictures when you give flight lessons?” “Flight lessons? I’m just the photographer for the newspaper.” The student replied, “If you’re not the flight instructor, then you probably can’t tell me why these red lights are flashing. Can you?” So also in marriage, some people are just photographers. Be careful of their advice on marriage. Find godly, mature, and time-tested couples to help you navigate through the storms of life.

Well…I have more questions but my word count is up. Here’s just one more – “Do you have Jesus on the invitation list?” He is known to go to weddings and do miracles! He will take your ordinary life and make it extraordinary with His power. He did it for us.

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