So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. Matthew 19:6
You have probably long forgotten about it. The cartoon showed a young man, down on his knees before a young woman, hands clasp, eyes locked as he says, “I’m just asking for a 55-hour commitment.” The cartoon mimicked the very short marriage of actress Britney Spears to her high school friend, Jason Alexander. From saying, “I do” in a Las Vegas Wedding Chapel to a legal annulment, the clock registered just 55 hours.
Britney Spears, then age 22, later told reporters that her very, very brief marriage was “just a joke.” It appeared than when Spears sobered up from the night of carousing which led to her early morning marriage, the prospect of really being married didn’t appear very attractive to her.
Some folks, of course, sober up faster than others. Yet the hard, cold reality is that far too many people ultimately wake up and say, “This is not the person I thought I was marrying!” And quite often they want out of the relationship.
OK, there are two ways we can go with this. I could editorialize on the importance of really knowing the person that you marry, pointing out the fact that marriage is not a joke, a party gag, the adult version of child’s play as a reluctant 6 year old boy is made to stand up beside a neighbor girl and pretend that they are getting married. Or, there’s a second application to the story.
Question: Why bother to marry anyway? Why bother to go to a church or chapel, invite your friends to celebrate with you, pay for a ring, a minister, a wedding, a reception, and a honeymoon? That, of course, is the question that leads many to say, “Hey, forget the wedding. Let’s just live together!”
Vast numbers of people today are living together without the benefit of marriage. Are they the smart ones, or have they been disillusioned by the culture, by the selfishness that is more intent on satisfying desire than committing to be by someone’s side in good times and bad times, in health and sickness, for better or for worse?
By the way, go back and study anthropology and history and you will find that every society and generation has celebrated marriage with a public commitment of some kind, and an acknowledgment of the responsibility each has to the other.
Why? The bottom line is that God knew without the commitment of marriage, eventually hearts would stray. Furthermore, he made humankind in such a way that there is a bonding, emotionally, physically, and spiritually in the union of a male and female, and without commitment neither a husband nor wife can have the needs of his life fully met.
Is it too much to expect of anyone living in a sex-saturated world to stay committed to just one person? Some think so. They are the ones who split, try again, and usually end up alone, but those who endure the rigors of marriage are the ones who can never imagine not being there for each other. They may fight and feud, argue and yell, but never, ever consider walking out on the other or not being there for each other at the end.
Commitments which last all of 55 hours just won’t do it, but without a commitment, the kind that is made in good faith, the kind that takes constant enforcing and feeding, there is no hope, no future for a marriage.
As one long-married old gentleman expressed it: We have lived with the constant expectation that tomorrow would be better. Indeed.
Resource reading: Matthew 19:1-12.