"Is marriage worth
while?" "Dare we hope for permanent happiness
after the honeymoon?"
"How can we help to build a home partnership in which love camaraderie, and mutual respect will be sustained?"
"Is wedded bliss, the theme on which the serene minds of yesteryear lingered lovingly, an outworn delusion?"
These are questions which keen-minded youth has insistently asked in our days of sagging domestic morals. Surrounded by discouraging influences, - frequent divorce, marital unfaithfulness, many unhappy marriages, and the rankling bitterness of domestic discord,- young men and women pause in survey; and their reaction often betrays a degree of hesitation and uncertainty.
As youth stands at the crossroads, Christ's code insists that every pale of pessimism be removed; that we must have done with the carping against marriage. As youth in this second quarter of the twentieth century, analytical in its judgments, challenging in its discussions, repeats its questions and demands: "Is the joy of marriage mere myth? If not how can we find its full happiness?" It becomes the sacred duty of the Christian Church to speak with divine authority. Conscious of its everlasting truth it must answer these questions definitely and with constructive solution. It must ceaselessly declare: Holy wedlock, when appraised in the light of Christ's estimate and regulated by His code of marital ethics, is still one of the highest and holiest of all earthly joys.
The code which the Christian Church gives its young people demands the definite endorsement of these basic truths.
1) Marriage is a divine institution, established by God Himself. It is not a social evolution or a heritage from any alleged brute ancestry. As the gift of God, sex, marriage, and family life are holy; and even though disfigured by sin, they should be honored by all men as divine bestowals.
2) Christian marriage is a blessed ordinance, which leads to multiplied benedictions both for those in wedlock and for the race in general. Faithfulness to its requirements, under God, promotes individual and national well-being and progress.
3) Marriage is ultimately the normal state for most people. To exalt intentional abstinence from marriage as more holy and God-pleasing, willfully to spurn wedded life in the pursuit of self centered ambitions, is to contradict God's wisdom.
4) Christian marriage is monogamous, the union of one man and one woman. Forsaking all others, the Christian husband and wife are to cleave only and always to each other.
5) Christian marriage is established only by free will and mutual consent. Christian children must not be forced to marry any one whom they cannot love. Yet young people are bound to consult their parents and to respect their advice, provided this does not overrule divine will.
6) The marriage union is lifelong, and termination, except by death, always involves a transgression of the divine law by either husband or wife or both. Divorce is permitted only in the case of marital unfaithfulness. Malicious desertion breaks the marriage relation.
7) In the choice of a companion for life the decisive factor should not be wealth, physical attraction, higher education, and social position, but common devotion to the one Lord and Savior, the harmony of religious oneness. With the exception of the close degrees of relationship within which a Christian may not marry, there are no restrictions in the choice of a husband or wife. A general compatibility of age, culture, and race is normally essential for sustained happiness.
8) In the Christian family the husband is the representative head before God and man; the wife is the helping companion. The sphere of her highest activity is the home.
9) An avowed purpose of Christian matrimony is the procreation of children. Where this first injunction, "Be fruitful and multiply," is willfully disregarded and artificial means are employed to evade the responsibilities and privileges of parenthood, the full blessings of marriage will be sacrificed.
10) Christian marriage must have a spiritual basis in the reverent acknowledgment of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all men, and in the abiding presence of His comforting and sustaining Spirit. The family altar is to be the effective pledge against shattered promises and broken hearts.
11) Christian marriage must be marked by an intensity of self-sacrificing love. Wedded life characterized by frigid aloofness is not only greatly displeasing to God, but also soon becomes a caricature of the true conjugal devotion.
12) To prepare themselves for these blessings and to meet these high requirements, young people should ask the help of God in leading clean, courageous lives and avoiding all concessions to impurity. Sin poisons their happiness and will rise up later as a specter of reproach. Only after a careful and prayerful selection of the future helpmate, when all uncertainty has disappeared should the mutual promise be given in engagement.
These principles are the foundation upon which young people should enter marriage and build their homes. Remove any one of these specifications, and an essential element of happiness is sacrificed. True, every statement in this marriage code has been fiercely attacked, hotly denied, mercilessly criticized, or serenely disregarded by our modern sophistication. Attempts to amend and broaden it are made every day; but the only standards that have been weighed without being found wanting and that prove their abiding power even in the swift rush of the passing moment are God's ordinances.