A little shout out to my parents, today they celebrate 59 years of marriage. It’s a great accomplishment in a world that often questions the value of marriage. I always find it funny when I hear comments like ‘marriage is just a piece of paper.’ Those people haven’t really understood the nature and reality of a marriage that stands the test of time. Marriage is so much more than just a piece of paper.

When the Pharisees pressed Jesus on the issue of marriage and commitment he replied: “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’” (Matthew 19:4-5)

Christians believe marriage to be a God-created institution that is not only good for individuals, but is also the cornerstone of social stability and family. It is based on promises and life-long commitments, not feelings although feelings are important.

Marriage requires a great deal of self-sacrifice and willingness to think about others. I believe it is one way in which we work out our discipleship and learn to bear the fruit of the spirit. We are more fully formed as humans when submitting to one another. It’s a place for intimacy and being known. Finally, marriage illustrates the relationship between Christ and his church.

It’s true that marriage can fall below the ideals we hold, and many marriages come to an end for a variety of reasons. God’s grace and mercy is extended to those who face such disappointments and difficulties. Marriage isn’t the path for everyone. The bible also affirms single life. But marriage remains something to be valued and treasured, even if we don’t always like some of the limitations and challenges.

It’s so much more than a simple piece of paper. It’s a way of life that changes us and develops us, affecting all those around us. So, for those of you working on your marriage, whether 5 months or 59 years – way to go, keep working at it! Celebrate all the moments along the way, knowing God takes joy in your union.