The Scriptural basics about marriage are both lovely and easy to be understood. Genesis 2:21-24 says, "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
This was God creating marriage, the union between one man and one woman till death do them part. And though future generations often sinned and strayed from that plan, God's view on the subject never changed and never will. Jesus himself, in the midst of a generation that wanted desperately to alter what God had established, went right back to the very beginning to once again reiterate every detail of it.
In Mark 10:6-9 he said, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Scripture is unbending on the subject, labeling everything from adultery to homosexuality to fornication and much more as sinful and off-limits. Marriage is, as Paul so aptly described in Ephesians 5, the masterpiece likeness of God's relationship to the church, and thus is sacred and unchanging.
But while all of that is true, it does not tell the whole story of marriage, at least not on an individual, day-by- day basis. By that I mean, this week is the week that my one and only bride and I are commemorating 25 years of marriage. And while we both knew the bare basics of the arrangement from Scripture, there was an entire lifetime of further education coming to us of which we were both blissfully unaware.
Dana had no idea when she married me that I was capable of losing things. Not just mundane things like car keys, mind you. Anyone can do that; no, I lose actual cars. For three days I misplaced an entire Saturn sedan. The look on her face when I said, "Honey, where is the Saturn?" and she said, "Babe, you had it last; what did you do with it?" was indescribable. I knew at that moment she must be rethinking that entire sequence of marriage vows and looking for a loophole.
For my part, I had no idea that a wife will intentionally time all of her questions to you just as you are walking away to the other side of the house after having sat silently together reading or watching the news for an hour. Tucker Carlson could have been interrupted, but no. Instead she waits till I am around the corner and walking down the hall to say, "Honey, will yobre fee foo wobber wads?"
And then I learned that we have radically different definitions of "a couple." My education on this came when Dana said, "Honey, could you get me a couple of M&M's?" and I handed her two M&M's. Trust me, men; while in marriage a couple means "exactly two," in chocolatese a couple better mean "a decent-size handful" to you.
But Dana had far more to adjust to than I did; that is for certain. She did not know that "I will be careful" when installing lights in our fellowship hall meant "I will be careful as I stand on the top rails of the scissor lift 25 feet above the concrete floor." She did not know that "Don't worry, Babe, things will slow down once I get done with Bible college" meant "Oh look! Now I can pastor, teach Sunday School, preach evangelistic meetings, take mission trips, write newspaper columns and books, build church buildings, do maintenance and a thousand other things that often keep us going from before the sun comes up until well after it has bid our side of the world adieu for the day."
She did not know a lot of things. I did not know a lot of things. But a quarter of a century later, we have no regrets.
Marriage is not easy, but staying the course is worth it. I can truthfully say that even though I loved her from the moment I met her, I love her far more now than ever. She has put up with a quarter-century of puns. She has come back from countless interrupted vacations with me after the phone rang and a voice on the other end said, "Preacher, we need you." She has given me three amazing children. She has put up with a tractor that we did not need, a truck from Hades, a shoe-box-size house and a million brilliant ideas that turned out as "what in the world was I thinking."
Hang in there, folks; marriage is worth an entire lifetime of effort.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2know email@example.com.