Al & Tipper Gore recently announced they were getting a divorce after forty years of marriage. They were well known for being affectionate and truly in love. Their kiss at the 2000 Democratic National Convention caused quite a stir. Their romance was a welcome foil to the business-like union of Bill and Hilary. Why are they divorcing? The stories say that their split is amicable. They just grew apart. After 20 years of marriage, I understand more today than I did about how such a thing could happen. People are always changing. And it isn’t easy for a husband and wife to change together. But a promise is a promise. And a covenant is more than a promise. A marriage is worth fighting for. And make no mistake. At some point, it will be a fight.
There is more at stake than the lives of two people and their families, as important as those things are. God chose the union between a man and a woman as one of the key ways He helps us understand life with Him. Marriage is all over the Old and New Testament. Song of Songs celebrates the love of Solomon and his beautiful dark-skinned bride as the groom, the bride, and her friends take turns telling their romance. God calls Hosea the prophet to marry a woman he loves but who is unfaithful. His life is an elaborate picture of the way God wanted to call His people from their idolatry back to Himself. Of Israel, God says, “I will betroth you to Me forever…in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness…” (Hosea 2:19-20).
He explains His plans for discipline and restoration of His rebellious people, “For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts… For the Lord has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God. For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you” (Isaiah 54:5-7). And, even more incredibly, Ephesians 5:25-30 compares the way a husband lays down his life for his bride to the way Jesus gave Himself up for the church. With all this talk of marriage and bridegrooms and brides dressed in spotless garments, God is showing us something beautiful about life with Him that we couldn’t understand any other way.
For the next few weeks, in honor of my marriage to Kyle and of my middle younger sister Lauren (whose wedding dress we’ll be shopping for this Wednesday), I’ll be posting entries about marriage and covenant and what both have to do with our salvation. Stay tuned!