People today have a very impractical view of marriage. Marriage is considered a relationship to make one’s life fulfilling and complete. Making and raising a family is not always the first concern, and of course not everyone is blessed with children, either. People fall in love, so they get married. The relationship gets difficult and people fall out of love, so they get divorced. People think they need to find themselves or complete a checklist of life goals before they can “settle down” with a “ball and chain.”
Don’t get me wrong. We should be very discerning in whom we marry. We should be sure to find someone with a similar worldview, similar faith, and similar beliefs. Those are the most important things. But do we need to be head over heels in love to get married? No, for that is making marriage into something that it is not.
Someone that shares your faith, goes to church with you, and wants to raise your children in the same faith is most important. On top of that, we should look for someone with good character, someone that is responsible and serving, someone that we like and will generally be happy to be around everyday. These are important things.
Obviously, physical attraction is a good thing, but people gain weight, lose their hair, endure accidents and illnesses that alter their bodies, and physical attraction will not sustain a marriage. The most important thing is to be attracted to the person as a whole, to their character and personality. However, even those things may change, so the reality is that people who would be married need to be committed to serving each other, growing together, and enduring together through the good and bad things in life that come their way, because that is what love really is.
If we think that love is having good feelings about someone, and that when the person is unworthy of those feelings of love that we should walk away, then we really have no understanding of love at all. We have done nothing to make us worthy of God’s love. We are completely undeserving of His forgiveness, but as Romans 5:8 says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God had every right to walk away from us and forsake us, but He chose to love us instead.
Real love involves sacrifice, forgiveness, and sometimes great effort from sinners to do the right thing. Real love is dying to your sinful instincts that tell you to take offense and revenge, and to forgive and serve instead. Real love endures the heartaches of illness and loss and remains to serve the other, even when one is giving but not receiving much.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Will we love perfectly? Of course not. That is why we continually repent and forgive each other. And that is what makes a marriage last.