No one can deny and undermine the significant role of marriages in building a strong society.
Strong marriages provide children with a safe and secure environment where they can find support and develop uprightly. And studies have shown that children from broken homes or dysfunctional families are more likely to become young offenders.
When families breakdown, society pays a heavy price. This is clear to see with the recent occurence of gang-related fights that erupted in Downtown East and Bukit Panjang.
However, the opposite end is also true- strong families lead to a strong society.
Marriage versus ministry
Sadly, I think the health and longevity of marriages in the Christian community have often been overlooked among churches in general, with ‘ministry’ often taking more priority.
This narrow-minded and erroneous thinking is stemmed in a belief that God and His ministry (which often refers to church-related work) are closely intertwined and their priority should never be compromised.
Hence, it is not uncommon for couples to feel as if marriage is in conflict with ministry. The attitude seems to be: “Marriage is important, but my ministry is for God, and He deserves 100 percent.”
Perhaps the bluntness of the above statement is something that we would never say in a blatant manner.
Normally, this type of thinking creeps in subtly, especially among church leaders and members that are considered committed to a church’s vision and mission.
Because of ‘ministry’, very often our marriages are left at the back burner. And our spouse and children are the unfortunate casualties due to our negligence.
Marriage is ministry
Early this year, a Barna survey revealed that Christians suffered the highest rates of divorce when compared with other groups of religion. That is both alarming and disturbing.
“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)”
1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NIV)
In the light of scripture and understanding God’s heart, I’m against that old thinking and order of priority. If not, how different are we from non-Christians who pursue careers at the expense of their marriages?
As the above scripture suggests, the biblical order of priority ought to be our relationship with God first, followed by our marriage and then ministry (which can refer to our church or secular work).
Personally, I believe that marriage is a ministry like no other; a God-given platform to impact lives within our families and the best opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for generations.
When our marriages are thriving, we can truly be “salt and light” in our society by building a strong social foundation through our families to make a lasting change with the next generation.