The longest kiss on record is 58 hours, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds!

A kiss like that doesn’t “just happen.” The couple that executed it undoubtedly had a plan and a remarkable level of commitment. In contrast, their first kiss was most likely driven by spontaneity and passion. But this award-winning kiss required purpose and resolve.

The same can be said of every successful marriage. It takes more than human passion to finish victoriously. What often begins as a “red hot” attraction ultimately requires an understanding of God’s purposes and plan—and plenty of personal sacrifice.

The first-ever marriage originated with the passion and purposes of God. Scripture makes it clear that God was very pleased when He created man (Gen. 1:31). And after placing him in the midst of a choice between good and evil, God declared it was “not good” for man to be alone (2:15-18). So He fashioned woman to be a suitable helper for him. Together, as one flesh, they stood a stronger chance to resist evil and to fulfill one of God’s primary purposes for marriage . . . to reflect Him (1:26).

I believe God’s heart was pleased again when He watched Adam’s elated response as he looked into the eyes of the one designed to be his completer. But Satan’s heart was also stirred. Soon after the creation of Eve, he began his efforts to destroy the union God had just created (3:1).

Why did Satan act so quickly to attack the first marriage? Because he knew that unity in marriage was a critical part of God’s plan to redeem mankind. If he could create division in marriage, it would distort man’s view of God and threaten man’s willing acceptance of God’s love and redemption. Satan must have reasoned, “If I can destroy marriages … I succeed. If marriage succeeds … I fail.” It’s that simple. And it’s that serious.

Satan’s chief weapon against marriage is sin. All sin divides because it is rooted in four ancient toxins to meaningful relationships:

  • Selfishness
  • Discontentment
  • Pride
  • Blame

Four marriage killers. Four divorce fuelers. When it comes to the oneness God intends for the marriage relationship, sin is lethal.

Satan’s strategy may have been simple, but it has proven incredibly effective. Marriages are collapsing at a staggering rate in our nation. And tragically, many of them claim to be Christians. Despite the foundation of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and the popularity of a dizzying array of marriage seminars and books, millions of Christian marriages continue to crumble.

And as Christian marriages disintegrate, so does God’s reputation in our nation. After all, what can be more fundamental than the relationship of a husband and a wife? If there is no power to keep covenant at home, the credibility of the gospel is grievously harmed. That’s why I believe with the prophet Malachi that the activity of God in nationwide revival is inseparable from a corresponding revival of covenant-keeping in marriage.

I will never forget one of the most miserable days of my life. Several million dollars had been donated to help Life Action construct a beautiful new office. The foundation was complete. The entire structure was erected. The brick exterior was first class. The inside walls were even finished. But when the day arrived for the elevator to be installed, a worker discovered something dreadfully wrong.

The main weight-bearing walls were no longer vertically correct. The defect stretched from one end of the building to the other.

Construction immediately halted. Almost unbelievably, I was told the building was unsafe and uninhabitable. The leaning walls simply could not bear up under the load of gravity, use, and time.

I was devastated. What about the huge investment of money, time, and emotion by so many? After considerable analysis, an architect suggested a solution—anchoring the exterior walls into the ground with giant bolts used on city skyscrapers. Once in place, the building would actually be more secure than originally designed.

I learned an invaluable lesson that day: Life in a sinful world will pull down anything that leans. Being vertically correct is absolutely essential. And nowhere is that principle truer than in marriage.

Over the years, I have observed a disturbing pattern. Underneath many seemingly successful marriages, there are often weight-bearing walls beginning to lean. Everything looks great from the outside, but without re-anchoring, disaster looms.

I have now been married to my wife for over four decades. The passing years have convinced me that only to the degree that I am right in my relationship with God vertically can my horizontal relationship with Sue be right as well. That’s why I am a firm believer that the first step toward a revived marriage is a revived relationship with the Lord.

The articles posted on this blog in the coming months are dedicated to reviving marriages by helping couples deal with root causes rather than symptoms. The place to begin is with the weight-bearing wall of our lives—our relationship with God. And while anchoring our marriages to the rock of God Himself may mean dealing honestly with the core issues of our hearts, the incredible hope of a revived relationship with God is transformed relationships with others.

Would you take a moment right now to quiet your heart before the Lord? Would you simply pray, “Lord, show me my need for You. Do whatever is necessary to make me a channel of Your love toward my spouse. Lord, speak to my heart as I read and ponder Your truth.”

May God revive our hearts and homes for His glory!

 

Byron Paulus is the President of Life Action Ministries. This editorial has been revised from the original, written for Spirit of Revival magazine in 2006.