Marriage is best learned from God, not the Gates

Marriage is best learned from God, not the Gates. The Bill and Melinda divorce is big news. The Gates are not the perfect couple even though some reporters seem to think so. I was ignoring this celebrity collapse because it happens so often. In fact, it’s only news when a celebrity couple actually marries and stays together for more than a few years. Then, I opened the Washington Post website. There was the desperate headline:

If Bill and Melinda Gates can’t make a marriage work, what hope is there for the rest of us?

He’s an extraordinary entrepreneur, and together they are one of the most charitable couples in the world. So, the reasoning goes, if these two wonderful people cannot make a marriage last, then we are all doomed to divorce! Frankly, that’s pretty shallow, even for WAPO.

I am certain that God is better than the Post on marriage. He started it and he is a far better marriage counselor. Let see what he says.

Marriage is about Commitment

People are supposed to stick together. Husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25). We could spend much time talking about the original language word, agape, which speaks of total commitment. But that’s not necessary because Paul explained it perfectly when he said, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Jesus doesn’t run out when our love runs out. He doesn’t head for the door because the future is better without us. He stays and he cares. The same should go for us too. The ideal is developed at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis: One man, one woman, one lifetime.

The Daily Mail, a British newspaper reports that Bill never left his old girlfriend. The paper quotes Time magazine from 1997 when Bill said he asked his old girlfriend for permission to marry Melinda. Then, Bill and Melinda married but agreed to allow Bill one weekend a year with his girlfriend.

That’s not commitment. (Pardon me while I go take a shower. After that last paragraph I just feel slimy. )

Marriage is about more than Children

Experts are being quoted as saying that many people, once they’ve raised their children, feel they are finished with a major responsibility and can now move on. Maybe the experts are correct; maybe people are thinking wrongly more often than we know. The Washington Post reports that the divorce rate among those over 50 has doubled since 1990. That’s a horrible statistic but I’ve no reason to doubt it. Maybe children are the glue for many marriages.

God created man and woman to meet one another’s needs (Genesis 2:18). They were told to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), which they did. Children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3 – 5). But a man and a woman commit to each other first and then raise their children.

Children are not marriage glue.

Marriage Doesn’t Break; Commitment Does

In her divorce filing, Melinda said their marriage was “irretrievably broken.” Their eldest child, a daughter, said the family had recently gone through a “challenging stretch.” We have no idea what popped up after 27 years of marriage but something, or someone, shattered their commitment. Every marriage must be underpinned by commitment (Genesis 2:24). When commitment fails, the marriage will crumble.

Jesus realized that humans are fragile and once destroyed commitment may be impossible to restore. While God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) he permits it in Matthew 19:1 – 12). But it is never good. Since the beginning, the goal has been one man, one woman, one lifetime.

Marriage demands commitment.

Marriage Doesn’t Depend on Money

The Gates are worth about $130 Billion, which means nothing to a happy marriage. Many impoverished people have succeeded where the unimaginably rich have failed. You simply cannot buy love.

One source says money issues are responsible for 41% of divorces. Family Journal, an academic journal devoted to family issues, notes that disagreements about money may be the best predictor of marital failure.

A woman married for several years once reamrked that early marriage was stronger because they were so poor. She described the teamwork that it took to work through the financial challeneges. Now, she and her husband were financially comfortable but the marriage was noticably weaker. Wealth doesn’t mean happiness and must not be the goal of a married couple.

Remember the Lord’s words through Paul:

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

(1 Timothy 6:9, 10)

Of course, “pang” means pain or woe. Maybe we’re better off with a little less, maybe even with a lot less. There’s a scene at the end of the 1940’s classic movie Citizen Kane, where the main character finds himself alone in his massive mansion surrounded by his belongings. It means little to him since his wife had gone.

Let’s be guided by God’s words. It will bring a happier life now as well as in eternity. I’ll not affix blame but Bill and Melinda Gates have failed in the most basic social contract. Salacious details are already pouring forth. But they are not, and never have been a model for the rest of us little guys. The Washington Post should know that.

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