Thirty-five years ago this month, my fiancé, her little brother and I entered the Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove to view the wild animals.
Just a few metres inside the gate was the lion cage. A couple of lions were laying down, but there was a male lion who was pacing back and forth near the front of the cage. He seemed a little agitated as a number onlookers had paused to watch.
For some reason my fiancé was left standing alone several metres from cage while her brother and I were watching with the crowd. The lion continued pacing along the front of the cage, then suddenly turned the corner, lifted his tail and urinated with the force of a fire hose into the surprised and gaping mouth of my fiancé.
We laughed so hard and so long it took ages to convince her to come out of the bathroom at her parent’s place.
Thankfully, she recovered and the wedding went ahead as planned the next month. And we’ll be celebrating our 35th anniversary in October.
We had rough spots during the engagement, as well as in the years since. But it has been well worth the commitment and faithfulness to each other.
We couldn’t have done it on our own, though. We needed and received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit of God. He makes all things beautiful.
Our country is at a cross-roads with respect to marriage. Couples are separating and divorcing at a high rate or choosing instead to live common-law. Our society increasingly bears the scars of broken relationships and marriages eroding like sandcastles.
And the situation in our churches doesn’t seem much better. A 2001 Barna Poll found that evangelical Christians are just as likely to get divorced as non-evangelical adults.
The Bible says: “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” [Heb. 13:4].
The good thing is that our actions as churches and as a society to support marriage can make a difference. When we support traditional biblical marriage, by our affirmative talk, supportive actions and biblical teaching, then couples can receive the encouragement and resources they need to get married and to stay together.
Marriage is a good gift from God that forms the most profound union of all creation and brings blessing to those around us. It’s a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman and forms the foundation of families.
Canadian author William Gairdner writes: “The primal and inescapable natural family-triangle – mother, father and children – is the most basic universal fact of our existence.”
He also quotes another author: “The ancient trinity of father, mother, and child has survived more vicissitudes than any other human relationship. It is the bedrock underlying all other social structures.”
The purpose of the family is to provide physical, emotional and spiritual care for its members, equipping them to function in society. This seems to be a rarity today and dysfunction, rather, seems to be the order of the day.
There is no way a healthy marriage can be attained, or maintained when one or both parties are seeking to dominate or usurp authority over the other. What happens is that married couples then tend to go their separate ways, if not through divorce, then through separate interests and activities. He does his thing, she does her thing. God has made man and woman differently by design, and a determination to attain unity in this diversity is essential to a healthy marriage.
Significantly, Genesis 2:24 says that a married man and woman are to leave father and mother and become “one flesh.” One flesh isn’t only in reference to physical intimacy, but mental, emotional, and spiritual intimacy.
It’s a separation of dependency; a separation from undue influence; a separation from negative cultural influence; a separation from misguided philosophy and values.
When I got married, I left behind my father’s authoritativeness, his verbal abusiveness, his anger and his bigotry.
Why hold on to the old when God has something new and beautiful?
Les Warriner is pastor at Living Way Foursquare Church in Maple Ridge.