Marriage celebration in the 21st Century

Friday 13th April 2012 was the 10th wedding anniversary of my wife and I. Unfortunately that same day my dad went into hospital with problems associated with COPD from smoking and needed the attention of my family. Almost all my relatives forgot or saw no cause for celebration. My church friends (some who I had not heard from for some time) prompted by my announcement on facebook heaped on the encouragement and the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ kept comin from all over the world. I was living in a glorious stew of contentment and unabashed swagger the whole day. I felt a sense of achievement and great blessing. God did it (Proverbs 18:22).

Sadly, in recent times, the 10 years anniversaries of both my siblings and those of my wife’s siblings were not treated as cause for celebration by Deirdre and myself. It is only experiencing this landmark for ourselves we realised what an insult to God it was that we did not mark their occasions with a pleasing memorial and words of encouragement.

We celebrated Deirdre’s parent’s 40th wedding anniversary a few years back. We pray now that we will see their 50th.
My parents seperated when I was 10 years old and though, as a child, I agreed in principle, at the time, with the split, it inevitably had negative consequences on my life. When i started to contemplate long term relationships in my late teens, I saw a lasting marriage as a pipedream. One day I painted the word WIFE in capital letters on the side of my table and stared at it for about 20 minutes. I was talking to God but didn’t really know it. A wife is God’s plan (Genesis 2:18).

It was only when I studied the bible I realised how the empty way of life myself and my family had been handed down was the source of the seperation and divorce of my parents and many other couples in our community (1 Peter 1:18). I saw the biblical plan and knew it was neither what I had been taught or what i had seen practiced, in the family i grew up in, in the church i went to on Sunday or in the communities i lived in. After my baptism for the forgiveness of all the immorality i had committed, I set about dating in the church with a passion. I so enjoyed the company of the single woman in the ‘date’ setting of ‘absolute purity’ (1 Timothy 5:2). They taught me so much about women through their openess and humble and truthful witness. The biblical lessons at church meetings on relationships, purity and responsibility just added to my zeal to immerse myself in the church lifestyle. Almost everything good I learned about women and marriage, I learned from disciples. I needed a lot of teaching, correcting (and yes rebuking discipline) to ready me for a marriage God’s way, and I still need my brothers to keep me on track. I am nowhere near there yet.

I was mocked and marginalized many times as a single by those close to me outside the church for contributing to the salaries of the men and women who moulded my character and that of my wife in the fire of Discipleship. Now.. the 10 year marriage I have as a direct result proves me a child of wisdom. I have something of great worth. I am humbly standing on the lower balcony of the Lord’s penthouse overlooking the river that flows from within paid for in His blood.. and my darling is by my side. I am celebrating. We are celebrating.

It was 10 years after my baptism and 3 dating relationships later that brought me to be the husband of the woman who has become my soulmate, my Deirdre, and we have made it to 10 years. I remember Deirdre warning me when we started dating that she had not had a relationship last longer that 3 months. I was confident in her even then. I just gave her a knowing look (Pro 31:11).

As disciples we don’t expect failure. We are promised first to God. With him all promises are ‘yes’.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 Enjoy life with your wife.

Sadly in the world many have lost hope. Surrounded by crumbling promises, broken dreams and lingering doubts many have given up on celebrating marriage. I see people all around building marriages based on looking good and feeling happy and evil doctrines like ‘follow your feelings’ and ‘i just know they are the one’. No-one plans to be divorced when they stand and say ‘I do’ though sadly I have seen tears of deep distress on the altar and certain knowledge that disaster is likely. Divorce has its own evil doctrines glorified in hollywood movies and sitcoms on a daily basis. These include pathetic ideas like ‘the seven year itch’ and ‘growing apart’ or ‘outgrowing one another’. These phrases don’t seem to pop up much in marriage vows!

I felt so sad for those of my family who did not celebrate with us. They have experienced great pain around this issue. Even as i wrote this my own tears came quite suddenly at one point. Divorce is a scourge on humanity and her children. Malachi 2:16 reads “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel”. As a result of my 10 year wedding anniversary I have resolved not to knowingly neglect to celebrate with a couple marking off the victory of a lasting marriage ever again.

I ask if you are a disciple and if you have any comfort from what God has done for you please pray for the healing of those we love who have gone through the pain of divorce including me and my family, Joe, Maureen, Michael, Joseph, Mary and Thomasina. Let’s resolve to encourage and value those we know who make their marriages work and to God be the glory.

In Him



2 Responses to “Celebrating Marriage”

  1. Willem Hattingh Says:

    Hi James

    Truly inspiring. I love your sincerity and appreciation. God gave you a healthier perspective over time. Prov 3:3-8

    When I met you a few years ago in Belfast, I was inspired by your fire for God. I loved your passion for your country’s history & heritage. We enjoyed the hospitality you and Deirdre showed us on on our visit. I found it hard though to keep up the friendship. You were an Iron man for God! Your gentler side was a bit rusty from my perspective ;-).

    I am inspired by your post in whole, because you have a heart mind and soul for God, your wife, family friends and strangers you reach out to.l
    Proud of you and Dee and we are also celebrating with you in your joy

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