As a teenager, I can recall dreaming of going to California. It was the home of the Beach Boys, Elvis' beach party movies, and candy apple red '56 Chevy hardtops. I made it no secret to my parents I wanted to go there. In their wisdom, they didn't let me go. Oh yes, I wanted that '56 Chevy too, but my dad, being the wise sage he was, provided a drab white, 6-cylinder, 4-door 1962 Chevy sedan—ugh! I'm amazed my self image survived those humiliating years!
California was the main drag--the place to go in those days. It was where it all seemed to start. I guess it still seems that way.
But I must tell you I was astounded when I saw at a special section in the Orange County Register for "Weddings and Occasions." The advertisements that followed fell into 58 categories, 54 of which sold goods and services related to getting married. A casual glance at these 54 categories revealed some fairly basic "necessities" for your average wedding: Wedding Cakes, Formal Wear, Flowers, Catering, Limousine Service (everything from a Rolls Royce to a White Bentley), Chapel/Minister, etc.
A more careful reading, however, revealed more of our culture and its values. Some sections advertised Bachelor/Bachelorette parties—exotic dancers and all. One even boasted of "The best hunks and gorgeous ladies for your parties! Ask for Al."
Also offered was a wedding planning seminar and a law firm selling premarital agreements. As I read that newspaper ad, I realized no one offered one single thing to help a couple in their marriage. Not one ounce of preventive education. Nothing.
"We don't need it. We're already educated enough," they say. And educated we are.
Preparing for marriage
We spend weeks and months studying the latest data on new cars before buying one. Many spend years educating themselves in how to make a living, yet how many of these courses really teach us how to live, make a good marriage or raise children?
Does it seem odd to you that, as a culture, we spend weeks training our dogs how to sit and heel, yet, when it comes to marriage, we leave our children to fend for themselves?
Interesting, isn't it, that we spend so little time and money on preparing for marriage? It is said the average wedding costs $20,000 today, takes at least five months to pull off, and lasts about 17 minutes. No wonder the marriages formed amid our twisted priorities often don't last as long as the engagement!
I want you to know I'm not against nice weddings. I just think that an engaged couple needs to spend more time preparing for their marriage—not just the marriage ceremony!
A close friend of mine confessed, "It took me several years to realize a marriage license didn't make a marriage. It only gave me the right to begin building one."
What would a godly marriage be worth to the next 10 generations? We're so busy living for today we are failing by the lasting standards of tomorrow and, most importantly, the standards of eternity.
The essentials for a lasting home
The Proverbs say three things are essential for filling a home with peace, lasting qualities, and stability: knowledge, wisdom, and understanding (Proverbs 24:3-4). Not a single one was offered in that California newspaper's advertisement, at any price.
Only Jesus Christ offers hope to a generation that has lost its moorings. His Word is the only source I really trust today when it comes to gaining knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. His price? Free!
If your children are single and 16 years or older you might wish to toss this on the supper table and chew on it for a while. And if your children aren't old enough or aren't born yet, file this away under "wedding plans." You might just help them build a real home.
Burdened by this? If you've been to a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, why not teach your children what you learned? Or better yet, go to your pastor and offer to start a premarriage course for couples who are getting married at your church. And remember, when it comes time for your son or daughter to marry, you can always require that they go to a Weekend to Remember before saying "I do!"
© 2008 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.