THIS MONTH MAY BRING COURT RULINGS THAT establish sodomy as constitutionally protected and push "gay marriage" one step higher on the ladder leaning up against the Tower of Babel. But it's been a great joy over the past four months to read the responses to the question in my Feb. 8 column: "What in your marriage should lead people to make up their minds to wed, in due time?"
I stipulated that only those married for 20 or more years should reply, but WORLD still received several hundred answers. We've run some in the Mailbag and I wish we could print them all, but space does not allow that. Space this week and over the next two does allow me to categorize the responses and quote some excerpts, so here goes.
Repeatedly, readers began by thanking God for marital success. Beth Virkler, married for 24 years, wrote, "I couldn't have possibly stayed married for 24 years without the Lord because only His power helps me to subdue my independent nature which continually wants its own way." Bill Cutler, describing 40 years of marriage to his late wife, wrote, "It would be hard to put a finger on any one thing that kept us together except the fact we both trusted God to guide us." Robert Lavelle, who has been married for over 60 years, wrote, "For years now I have realized that one of the evidences I have for the existence of God is that He gave me my wife! Many times the differences we had seemed insurmountable. I praise God."
Readers also stated that a sense of life-long commitment was essential. Vic and Fran Sandager wrote, "We celebrated our 60th anniversary last August. When we were married we made a commitment that it would be for life." Leroy and Jessie Lindsey noted, "Married 60 years. Both of us have been committed to the other from the very beginning. There has been no thought of separation." Buddy and Billie Leathers reported, "We have been married for 55 years. The absolute key was our commitment to Christ and each other." Joan Melling also wrote that "the commitment of marriage" was essential: With it "we have been married for 53 years, most of them very happy, but with a few 'bumps' in the road."
One pragmatic reason for marriage is that, outside of it, those "bumps" often send couples into the ditch. Lois Snyder began a list of marriage's advantages with "stability-knowing my husband is always there to love and care for me" and "support-he gives me courage and confidence to tackle big projects." Bill and Tina Slack wrote, "We are absolutely confident of our commitment to each other." Jack and Janet Craig noted, after 40 years of marriage, "We haven't always felt loving, but we have always been committed to each other. That makes all the difference." Gale Wiseman wrote, "After 31 years of marriage I don't worry about turning gray and wrinkled. I have a partner who is committed to loving me for better or worse."
Another reason for Christian marriage is the contentment it brings. Elizabeth Colosimo wrote, "Life every day committed to one person for the long haul brings peace and contentment that cannot be present in a long-lasting, nonmarried situation." Galen Martin related, "To hold the hand of my wife brings me as close to true tranquility as I will experience this side of heaven. This feeling of secure tranquility cannot happen outside of a committed, long-term marriage. I am sad for those who may never experience this." Kathy Kindall observed, "There's a peace that someone in a noncommitted relation cannot know. It's the kind of peace from knowing that we haven't lived a life of regrets; from knowing that we will always have each other."
Mrs. Kindall also noted that "after more than 31 years of marriage, we are still very much in love. It's not the kind of love that survives on feelings-here today and gone tomorrow-but the love that is there through good times and bad. What a blessing to have someone to share troubles with and draw strength from." As justices this month perhaps make sweeping decisions, WORLD readers want them to understand that the health of the institution of marriage is not merely a private matter. As Don and Sandra Janisch put it, "Faithfulness in marriage is an extension of faithfulness in God. Faithfulness in marriage contributes security and stability to the family, neighborhood, church, school, and municipality, and that ripples through society."
The lack of such faithfulness also ripples.