Despite widespread cynicism and ambivalent attitudes towards marriage, sexual ethics and commitment, thousands travelled to London and millions around the globe tuned in recently to witness the Christian marriage ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton.This was more than just an excuse for a holiday, and the event touched more than just the avowedly royalist. Weddings bring out the well-wisher in all of us. Why? Perhaps because we understand intuitively how much marriage can do, not only for individuals, couples and families, but for society in general, and we genuinely hope that a couple will succeed and prosper in the commitment they are taking on. More than just a happy ending to a royal romance, or even the celebration of a beginning, this was an opportunity to celebrate marriage itself.
The dictionary definition, which describes marriage as ‘relationship’, as ‘the legal union or contract made by a man and a woman to live together as husband and wife, often for procreating offspring’, encompasses intimacy, promise, shared lives and a framework for fruitfulness. Marriage is thus society’s provision of a safe environment for unique and intimate relationships and for building stable units. Writing in the Times in 2005 Libby Purves acknowledged the ‘power’ and deep effect of marriage, which goes beyond the legal certificate, and recognised that this public affirmation of an intimate relationship ‘still holds a solemnity’ and strengthens society.
More than this, as Christians we recognise marriage as God’s provision, His gift to us whom He created male and female to live in fellowship with one another. It is no surprise then that despite the many problems that marriages encounter as we strive to live out this gift amidst our human frailties and selfishness, marriage is shown to be good for our health and wellbeing.
Many statistics tell us that married adults live longer, healthier and even more affluent lives, suffer less from stress and depression, and are more likely to take on responsibility in society as each partner, confident in the mutual support and sharing of burdens provided by marriage, is enabled to fulfil their individual potential.
The benefits to children of married couples are even more widely documented, with studies showing achievements at school and in careers, health, happiness and even life expectancy all positively affected by marriage (Maggie Gallacher, ‘Why Marriage is good for you’, City Journal Autumn 2000). So at a time when the institution of marriage appears to be under threat, let us celebrate the many life enhancing blessings it can bring, and pray for the strengthening and nurturing of the marriages around us.
Kate Fenn-Tye, Editor. Pray for Scotland Newsletter.