The announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was warmly welcomed by most people, although one Church of England bishop chose to comment very unhelpfully on the prospect of them finding lasting happiness. There will be many pressures on them as they prepare for their marriage and life together. The interviews with them revealed two young people very much in love and displaying real maturity. They have won the hearts of many who will be praying that they enjoy a long and happy marriage.
It is encouraging to see a young couple preparing to enter into a lifelong marriage commitment. Marriage is one of God’s gifts to all people. In marriage a man and a woman enter into an exclusive relationship and become “one flesh.” Two people become one as they promise to be faithful to each other as long as they both shall live. There is no closer human relationship. A loving marriage brings deep happiness. An unhappy marriage causes profound pain and unhappiness. Marriage is the essential foundation for a stable society.
The Bible teaches that the role of the husband in the marriage relationship is to be a loving leader. His example and inspiration is the love of Jesus Christ for his church. Jesus “loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy.” Husbands must be ready, like Jesus, to lay down their lives for their wives. The role of the wife is to respond to her husband’s love with respect and a readiness to live for him. The emphasis is not on the rights of the husband and wife but rather the responsibilities each accepts in order to live together in the bond of marriage.
Husbands and wives are not perfect people. We all share the limitations of our sinful human nature. Our actions and words are not always kind and loving. We need God’s help and grace to keep our marriage vows. We must always be ready to forgive and to seek forgiveness when we fail each other.
In this the example of Jesus is a great encouragement to us. He loves us despite our frequent failings and even rebellion. Our love for him deepens as we experience more and more of his love for us. So, too, in marriage as husbands and wives love and forgive each other their love can grow deeper as the years go by.