I have been tempted to skip church the last few weeks. That’s hard for me to type, my fingers are still shaking because of it. You see, going to church has (almost) always been something I look forward to. I enjoy the gathering of fellow believers. I am eager to participate in the sacred aspects of worship, communion, fellowship. I have always taken seriously the warning from the author of Hebrews to “not give up the habit of meeting together.” Even when times are difficult, even when things don’t go exactly my way, I enjoy going to church and think it is an important discipline.
But, as I said, the last couple of weeks have been difficult on that front. You see, about three weeks ago our pastor started a sermon series on marriage. It’s not the topic, exactly, that bothers me. I have a lovely marriage. My husband is a demonstration of God’s grace in my life and I am so blessed to be on this journey with him. So I’m not particularly sensitive about the topic of marriage.
And I recognize that the God has given us instruction regarding marriage in the Bible. I know that I have things to learn about having an excellent marriage. So I’m not saying that preachers should avoid the topic altogether, I think it is possible to preach a sermon on the topic of marriage that could draw others into deeper relationship with God. I think it is possible to preach a sermon on marriage that would be applicable and convicting to everyone in a congregation, not just the married folk. I think it is possible to preach a sermon on marriage that would illuminate aspects of God’s relationship with the church and point us all, longingly, to the day of the great wedding banquet, the Lord’s return for us. I think these things are possible, it’s just that they happen so infrequently.
More frequently, my experience with sermons on marriage is much less positive. And this most recent sermon series is no exception. Too often, the sermon turns in to a kind of comedy routine about nagging wives and lazy husbands. Throw in a few jokes about “the old ball and chain” and one or two references to “the hard work of marriage” and that about sums it up. Is it any surprise that more people seem to be delaying marriage or even choosing not to marry at all?
I have more to say on this, so much more. But it will have to come later….so stay tuned.