The heart of marriage is the heart of the universe. So Ash begins his last chapter. Isn't that an amazing thought? Have you ever considered your marriage in that light? What he brings sharply into focus is faithfulness. The heart of marriage is not love, but faithfulness, because that is the description most used of God in the Bible. And Ash deliberately uses faithfulness and not love. He actually has a humorous description of the publicity statement of a Christian marriage course:
Relationships begin when you fall in love. Relationships end when you no longer feel in love. So love is central, but it is rarely fully understood. The course will show you how how you can each give and receive the love you need. It will show you how to keep romance permanently alive.But, he adds, a more Christian ad might read:
Marriage begins when you publicly promise lifelong faithfulness. Marriage ends when one of you dies. Faithfulness is central, but it is rarely understood. The course will show you what faithfulness means and how to be faithful through good times and bad, no matter how you feel. It will show you how to keep faithfulness alive.Quite cheeky of Ash, I think!
The other feature of this chapter is Ash's almost palpable abhorrence of adultery. He gives six reasons why adultery is so serious:
1. It is turning away from a promise
2. It leads the adulterer from security to chaos
3. It is secretive and dishonest
4. It destroys the adulterer
5. It damages society
6. It hurts children
All are patently true but as someone who has a close family member affected by adultery, I think he has missed one big one - it devastates the marriage partner. In the marriage course we run, Jim often says, "What is the worst thing I could do to Lesley? Beat her? Abuse her? Ignore her? Kill her? As bad as those things are, they are not the worst. The worst thing is that my actions make it easier for her to turn away from Jesus, to deny him. Because that consequence is eternal!" And because the sense of betrayal that comes with adultery can often lead the hurt partner to walk away from God ... adultery is VERY serious!
Ash's last word is an invitation, and here we see the evangelistic heart of the author. You can almost see his eyes light up as he explains that anyone who wants to can be married - in a marriage to beat all marriages. It is the marriage of God, the Lover, the Bridegroom, the Husband to his people his Beloved, his Bride, and in the end his Wife. He concludes with, "May God help us to be there to enjoy it".
Well, we have come to the end of our exploration of Married For God. I hope you have found it stimulating and even more that is has enriched your marriage if you are married, and if you are not, that it has given you a vision of what sex in the service of God looks like.