Covenant, complementary, children, commitment
There has been a lot said about love, as if that's really all that marriage is. In our culture we expect love to precede marriage, but it doesn't have to be that way: sometimes love comes after. To me, marriage is more about the Four Cs - covenant, complementary, children, commitment.
First it's a public promise, a covenant to identify together, live together and share together. It includes joining each other's family. To me and my wife, the public covenant was so important that we abstained from sex or living together until we were married. Marriage was a total change of life. I know many people of our generation (50-ish) didn't take marriage so seriously, and I tolerate their attitude, but that doesn't mean I accept it is best. To us and our children marriage is a sacred thing.
But I would say this: marriage is not about having a fancy wedding reception and fine clothes and photos and honeymoon. It doesn't have to cost a lot - one can get married for less than $200 and it is just as valid. Anyone who says they are not getting married because they can't afford it simply does not have their priorities right.
Second, marriage is the joining of the two complementary halves of the human race, in microcosm. When we talk about marrying components we mean they are complementary and fit together to make a whole. By contrast some years ago at university I went to hear the minister of the Auckland Metropolitan (gay) Church. He said that in his opinion men didn't really like women - they were too different - and that heterosexuals were disadvantaged by their sexual orientation forcing men and women to live together. A similar separatist view was expressed by a bumper sticker I saw: "Lesbianism - why settle for less?" I disagree. I think it's wonderful to join together the two halves of humanity. It is personally wonderful to be complementary with my wife and to affirm her different strengths and nature, and she to affirm mine.
Third, marriage is the best setting for children. Preferably it should mean a stable home where both parties have biological connection to the children, where children can observe both sides of humanity. The rules about who can marry (e.g. not brother and sister) are really rules to protect the offspring. The very existence of these rules is because of the heterosexual nature of marriage.
Fourth, marriage is about commitment, sticking to promises and to each other through thick and thin. Celebrities, with their serial polygamy, are abominable the way they cheapen marriage. It cheapens it again when people use those failures as an excuse to alter marriage.
The Four Cs are general principles for marriage but my wife and I personally have a fifth - Christ. Jesus specified what marriage is (Mark 10:6-9, Matthew 19:3-6) and his Apostles clarified it elsewhere in the Christian manifesto, the New Testament. As a follower, I don't have authority to add to his words, and nor does any priest or minister. No one can safely be more liberal than our loving Creator, and so by faith I have to stick with his definition, irrespective of what the Government's opinion is.
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