The biblical institution of marriage is foundational in our society and yet it is the most difficult value to sustain today, said a Raymond, N.H., pastor.
Kicking off National Marriage Week on Sunday, Raymond Baptist Church Pastor Kevin McBride began a mini-series on marriage to re-examine the biblical foundation for marriage and help strengthen marriages that may be struggling.
"One thing we all need in our marriages is wisdom and that there is no perfect marriage, mine included," he said to his congregation.
McBride joins pastors across the country in a new movement called Let's Strengthen Marriage, involving prominent leaders from the evangelical and Catholic traditions, including Chuck Stetson and Chuck Colson. The initiative was launched last fall in an effort to fight negative trends, such as a high divorce rate and out-of-wedlock births, and build back up a healthy marriage culture, beginning with the church.
Bishop John Hine, Chair of the Catholic Bishops' Committee for Marriage and Family Life, said in a statement, "While recognizing that the history of marriage is more complex than we sometimes think, there is no doubt that a supportive culture is enormously important for married couples. Among like-minded couples, there is an unspoken air of moral support which is invaluable in times of difficulty.
"This sort of implicit support is much less available to married couples today as fewer choose to declare their commitment to each other publicly in marriage. As a Church our response to this situation is not to denounce or criticize, but to work harder to provide the encouragement and the missing support so urgently needed."
Marriage events, including conferences, enrichment courses and talks on "sex, love and communication," are scheduled to take place this month as Christians observe National Marriage Week.
Many pastors are promoting the initiative through sermons.
"If you want the hope of a successful marriage you need God's power," McBride stressed on Sunday in his sermon titled "Good Marriages Are Not by Accident."
Dispelling some common marriage myths to his congregation, the Raymond pastor noted, "Anyone who has said marriage is a 50/50 relationship lies.
"Marriage is a 110 and 110 relationship – that we give over and above to see the other person succeed so that we succeed together," he explained.
"If you are going into a marriage for what you will get out of it rather than what you will put into it, you are running the risk of failure," McBride pointed out. "It's a mutuality of submission to each other's needs."
Also rejecting the common argument made by married couples that they are no longer compatible with each other, McBride said, "Chances are you never were.
"Maturity in a relationship is when you capitalize on the differences and not criticize them."
Reading from a passage in the New Testament book of Ephesians, the lead pastor said God wants to give a married couple power – the power to fathom each other's differences, the power to fulfill the needs of one's spouse and the power to forgive mistakes. Complete humility, patience and peacemaking are some of the foundational points for a good marriage, he indicated.
"God wants your marriage to succeed," McBride highlighted. "He has given you the ability to make it succeed. Are you inviting Him in as a partner to give you what you need to not just have a marriage that survives but one that thrives and grows?"
Raymond Baptist Church has invited married couples, young and old, to renew their vows this coming Sunday. That day, couples will also learn how to "affair proof" their marriage.
On the Web: http://www.letsstrengthenmarriage.org/