The Importance of Marriage

The importance of the whole subject on which our Lord here pronounces judgment can hardly be overrated [Mark 10:1 - 12; the subject of divorce] . We ought to be very thankful that we have so clear and full an exposition of his mind upon it. The marriage relation lies at the very root of the social system of nations. The public morality of a people, and the private happiness of the families which compose a people, are deeply involved in the whole question of the law of marriage. The experience of all nations confirms the wisdom of our Lord’s decision in this passage in the most striking manner. It is a fact clearly ascertained, that polygamy and permission to obtain divorce on slight grounds have a direct tendency to promote immorality. In short, the nearer a nation’s laws about marriage approach to the law of Christ, the higher has the moral tone of that nation always proved to be.

It is a good idea for all those who are married, or intend to marry, to ponder well the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ in this passage. Of all relations of life, none ought to be regarded with such reverence and none taken in hand so cautiously as the relation of husband and wife. In no relation is so much earthly happiness to be found if it is entered upon discreetly, advisedly and in the fear of God. In none is so much misery seen to follow if it is taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly and without thought. From no step in life does so much benefit come to the soul, if people marry “in the Lord.” From none does the soul take so much harm if fancy, passion or any mere worldly motive is the only cause which produces the union. Solomon was the wisest of men, but “even he was led into sin by foreign women” (Nehemiah 13:26). There is, unhappily, only too much necessity for impressing these truths upon people. It is a sad fact that few steps in life are generally taken with so much levity, self-will and forgetfulness of God as marriage. Few are the young couples who think of inviting Christ to their wedding! It is a sad fact that unhappy marriages are one great cause of the misery and sorrow of which there is so much in the world. People find out too late that they have made a mistake, and go in bitterness all their days.

Happy are those who in the matter of marriage observe three rules.

  1. The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing.
  2. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels.
  3. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are. “Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, to make her holy” (Ephesians 5:25-26).

Author: J C Ryle (1816 - 1900)
Reference: Mark (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels) 1857, reprinted 1998 The Banner of Truth Trust, UK
Posted: 04 Feb 2018