By the end of month the Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling concerning the very definition of marriage in our country. The implications of their decision could have colossal impact on the moral climate of our culture and has the potential of putting the Bible believing church in a very uncomfortable posture in the years to come.
That has started me thinking. What can we do to make a stand for biblical marriage? Of course there are legal and political stands that believers can take. That is all well and good. In fact it is important.
But there is a much more important way to stand for marriage and I was reminded of it at a wedding rehearsal dinner just a few days ago.
So what is the most important way to stand for marriage?
Parent your children in preparation for marriage!
The other night I was conducting a wedding rehearsal for a couple. I have known the bride and her parents for almost 18 years. I witnessed this young woman grow up and have watched her Mom and Dad parent her in preparation for marriage.
The bride was so readied for marriage and the groom was likewise. They both are Christ-centered and have a vision for their relationship that drives them to live a godly commitment toward each other and the Lord.
At the rehearsal dinner the father of the bride spoke to those gathered. He expressed his love for his family and his great affection for the daughter he would give away. But he also gave the couple a charge. He challenged them to live out a greater vision of marriage that would ensure their love could last, a next generation could emerge, and in a great way the world would be changed.
As I reflected on his words I thought of seven things parents can do to parent their children in preparation for marriage…
- Love your sons and daughters. This father loved his daughter, his son, and especially his wife. He expressed it. When he did you could see his family was touched, but so were the friends around them. Such love prepares children to want to be married in the future. It creates in them the belief that marriage is a fundamental building block to building a home of love and support.
- Give them the gospel. Many years ago I remember this father continually sharing the gospel with his daughter. He never pushed her to make a decision, but he prepared her for the moment when she would. In doing this he taught her that in life and eventually in marriage her relationship with Christ was always to come first.
- Model discipleship. This father and mother modeled before their daughter what it meant to follow the Lord. They were not perfect. No one can be. But they were consistent, committed, and honest about their walk with God. When we model discipleship, we prepare our children for successful relationships and we give them a vision for life that is not merely about their own selfish desires, but a higher calling. Marriage will not work when one or two of the spouses operate out of selfishness. Discipleship teaches us to give and to forgive.
- Set the bar high for finding a spouse. These parents wanted their daughter to get married, but not just to anyone. They had impressed upon their daughter, by example and verbal expectation, the need to find a man who loved the Lord above all other loves. They expected her to marry a person of character and integrity. I want the same for my children. I have often told them that I pray for them to find a person who loves Jesus as much or more than they. I do not want them to compromise in anyway in this matter. It is better to do without than to lower the bar on the things that matter the most.
- Expect faithful church involvement. I loved hearing this father tell his daughter and future son-in-law that he expected them to be in church, lead in church, and partner with the church in her mission. In most weddings I conduct I challenge the couple to devote themselves to their marriage and the church knowing that the two go hand in hand. Both of these institutions were established by God. A strong marriage makes for a strong church and a strong church makes for strong marriages.
- Model family leadership. At the rehearsal dinner this father did more than speak to the couple. He expressed his love and pride for every member of his family. What was he doing? Modeling family leadership. He was the shepherd of his home and was caring for his entire flock. When we do this as parents we teach our children to do the same.
- Cast a vision of legacy. In this father’s speech he challenged the couple to obey God’s first command in marriage, to “be fruitful and increase in number.” (Genesis 1:28, NIV) Even at a young age we should tell our kids that men and women get married to build a family and birth a new generation. Marriage is not only for the gratification of the couple, it is to build a people. I often tell couples to imagine how many people will come from their love in the course of a century. In addition, for the Christian, marriage should also be about partnering together for the purpose of extending the gospel into the world. Couples should come together before the Lord for the purpose of fulfilling his commission to bring Jesus to others.
So I challenge you, if you are a parent, to take a stand for marriage by parenting your children in preparation for marriage.
Question: What are ways you have found to prepare young men and women for successful Christian marriages? You can leave a comment by clicking here.