Esteeming MarriageApril 7, 2014
Across America, there is a new awareness of the importance of the marriage covenant. Dennis Rainey says that now, more than ever, we must articulately and compassionately defend marriage.
Across America, there is a new awareness of the importance of the marriage covenant. Dennis Rainey says that now, more than ever, we must articulately and compassionately defend marriage.
Bob: It’s time for people to raise their voice again and say, “Marriage really does matter.”
Woman: I want our marriage to be based, biblically, on the way God would have two people to live together, as husband and wife.
Dennis: What’s going to make the difference in your life and your marriage going the distance ‘til death do you part?
Man: You know, we’ve only been married for four years; but I think that, you know, we’re getting to somewhat of a comfort stage. I think today was a nice way to really reinvigorate the fire that brought us together to begin with and making God the center of that.
Dennis: Marriage is one man / one woman in a covenant relationship with their God—for a lifetime.
Man: The marriage is the beginning of a family. If we don’t have families that are close to the Lord in this country, the country’s going to go downhill.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about why marriage really does matter and about three very special events that hope to make that point in a big way. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I’ve never been to a horse race. Have you ever been to a horse race?
Dennis: I have been to one. I traveled to go—interestingly, to a memorial service in Lexington, Kentucky. The service was over in the morning. They said: “You know, I don’t know what time your flight heads out; but right across from the airport, in Lexington, there is a phenomenal happening out there in the afternoon. If you have a few moments, you ought to go over there.”
And, honestly, Bob, it was $5—and it was some of the cheapest entertainment I have ever seen because I watch people. It was fascinating. I mean, that is a wonderful sub-culture that loves to come out and watch the horses run around the track.
Bob: Well, I’ve seen the movies where the horses get loaded into the blocks—you know, before the bell rings. They’re kind of scratching at the ground, and they’re ready to go. They’re just waiting for the gun to go off. I’ve been watching you the last few months around here—and we have this event coming up in August that we’ve not shared with our listeners—
Dennis: I wondered where you were going with this.
Bob: You wonder, “What’s a horse race got to do with this?”
Dennis: I just feel a bit like I’m in the blocks, right now.
Bob: You’ve been scratching at the dirt on this one for awhile. [Laughter] You’re pretty excited about what is going to be happening on August 2nd, in Chicago, at the Allstate Arena; August 23rd, in Portland, Oregon, at the Moda Center; and then on Saturday, October 4th, at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, DC.
We have a special event that’s going to be happening in these three cities, and you can’t wait for it to get here!
Dennis: I’m excited because in these three arenas that you’re talking about—somewhere between 14-18,000 people are going to fill each of those arenas. We are going to let the nation of people—who I think are out there, Bob—who I believe have a pent-up demand to say: “You know what? I really don’t like all of what is being promoted and talked about on television. I stand for family, as God designed it. I want to join with you and Barbara, and Bob and Mary Ann—to stand with FamilyLife—and say, ‘We are for marriage.’” It’s not about getting negative on anything. It’s a matter of standing for marriage and family, as God designed it.
Bob: So—the one-day event that’s going to feature our friend, Dr. Al Mohler, Crawford and Karen Loritts, you and your wife Barbara are going to be there, David Nasser is going to be joining us, Shaunti Feldhahn, and Ron Deal. We have Andrew Peterson coming to do a concert. This is a one-day—is it a rally or is it an equipping event—how would you describe it?
Dennis: I’d describe it as “all of the above.” It is a rally—it’s going to equip people, it’s going to challenge people, it is going to unleash people—that simple. So they’re going to hear a lot of great, biblical teaching around the most sacred promise two people ever make to one another on the planet—their marriage vows. We’re just going to highlight that and talk about it in wholesome, practical ways. They’ll get a little manual and have some notes they can take and some projects they can complete.
It’s just a lot of fun, Bob, because we’ve done these in the past. Back in the late ‘90s / the early 2000s, we had a number of these events—I think about 40 events—and had close to 400,000 people come out to these events. I, basically, looked at what’s happening in our country and I said: “You know, that was a timely message back then. It is even [timelier] today.” It seems, to me, that the Christian community needs to rally around marriage—not poke a stick in anybody’s eye, or be hateful to anybody / speak against anybody—just stand up—with a wholesome spirit / the love of Christ—and speak about marriage because our God created it. He knows how to make it work.
Bob: So, the day is called “I Still Do.”™ The focus of the day is to say: “What God intended for marriage is a good thing. When we enter into it—when we do it His way—it’s a good thing for us; and it’s a good thing for the society in which we live.”
Dennis: It is. Our nation is made up of a lot of families. When the family gets it right and builds a moral and spiritual foundation in the lives of the children that it raises, then the nation can begin to reflect the morality of the family. On the other hand, when the family is falling apart—when the family isn’t sticking to its responsibility—then a generation of young people arise that aren’t sure who they are, what they are, or what they believe and how to live.
I think we’re seeing that right now. I think there’s a generation of young people who are lost—and who have their marching orders from digital media, television, the internet. I mean, there’s a lot of messaging taking place today that, in my opinion, has drowned out the family. I think there’s a need for our collective voice to come together as one.
Bob: There are millions of couples today who have bypassed marriage altogether or are, at least, delaying marriage and saying, “We’re not sure that marriage is either relevant,” or, “We’re scared,” or whatever else. They’re moving in together.
Dennis: I get that.
Bob: They’re living together.
Bob: They’re just not sure about marriage. Why is that?
Dennis: I understand that they’ve looked at their parents—it didn’t work for their parents; or maybe, it worked poorly. They’ve lost hope in marriage.
I think, ultimately, they still think marriage is the place where two people can have a future together because marriage is the one relationship in life that is forged with a pledge—with a promise. I think it’s time to elevate the promise—talk about it in a positive way—what it means, the power of a promise, the safety that a promise creates between two broken people, and also the impact of the promise when it’s kept—however imperfectly we may keep it—upon our children.
Our children benefit when they see their moms and dads keeping that pledge and that promise. We have no idea the hope that that creates in their hearts—that they, too, someday might be able to enter into a marriage relationship.
Bob: We saw a fresh illustration of the erosion of the marital promise in our hometown when a billboard went up back in February; right?
Dennis: I was wondering if you were going to go there, Bob. [Laughter] Our listeners are not going to believe this because I just showed a friend a picture of the billboard that went up. I’m not going to mention the name of the company—that’s right—a company that put up a billboard that had three past presidents. Their finger was up against their lips, going, “Shhhhhhh!”—like they were keeping a secret—with an American flag wrapped behind these presidents. The statement on the billboard said: “Who says cheaters don’t prosper?”
Then, there was listed an international company that offers “An affair to remember.”
Bob: They promote—
Dennis: —infidelity / adultery—how else do you say it? They’re trying to make money off of destroying the most sacred promise two people ever make. They justify it by saying: “You know, people are going to cheat. So why don’t we create a safe way for people to cheat?” By the way—“So we can make money as we hook people up outside of their marriage relationship.”
I just have to say—I was looking at this billboard, and I can’t begin to describe how it made me feel—that, first of all, it was occurring; secondly, that it was occurring in my hometown, here, of Little Rock; and third—I just started thinking about my grandkids. I thought, “I don’t want my grandkids driving by a billboard like that—that’s promoting adultery!”
Dennis: And I just thought about the marriage promise.
It’s a promise of fidelity. It’s a promise of two people so they can trust each other, and they can go the distance in their marriage. So, as God would have it, He raised up a businessman, who came to me. He said, “You know, you need to go ahead and do something about that.” I said, “If you’ll pay for it, I’ll do it.” [Laughter]
The businessman underwrote the cost of coming up with a billboard. It says, with the same American flag wrapped in the background—it says, “When spouses cheat, others get hurt.” There is a spouse and a couple of children wrapped up in one another’s arms. We wanted to bring home the reality that, when you cheat—your spouse gets hurt, your children get hurt, and your legacy is scarred for a lifetime. I have some very good friends who, they would say, are still in the process of recovering from adultery.
It’s like setting off an atomic bomb in your marriage.
Bob: And you didn’t put up the billboard—we didn’t put it up to try to shame people who have committed adultery.
Dennis: No! As I said, I have friends who I love dearly and have, frankly, admired how they have repented—how they have come clean and dealt appropriately with their spouses. And yet, what it’s done, Bob—is it’s given us an opportunity to make a statement in our community. We’re just challenging people: “Keep your vows.” That’s at the bottom of the billboard.
I just think today—if you just pull back on the culture—how many things do you know of that are calling people to marital fidelity, calling them to celebrate the promise they made, who are reminding them of the power of that promise—that it’s two people who love each other for a lifetime?
I just don’t know of a lot of things, Bob—other than this radio broadcast and local churches, all over the country, that are encouraging people to keep their vows / keep their promises. It’s really what’s behind “I Still Do.”
Bob: Yes—“I Still Do” on Saturday, August 2nd, at the Allstate Arena in Chicago; and then on Saturday, August 23rd, at the Moda Center in Portland; and then Saturday, October 4th,at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. This is like a giant one-day billboard that’s going up in these cities to say, “There are a lot of people here who think keeping your covenant—pledging yourselves to one another / figuring out how to make a marriage work—these are good things for us, as people, and for our communities.”
Dennis: They are healthy things to do; and you know how the event ends, Bob. I mean, there are a number of things we do, throughout the day, to encourage couples to keep their promises; but at the end of the day, everybody leaves the event with a frame-able marriage covenant.
I have a great story to tell; in fact, that just happened a couple of months ago on the Love Like You Mean It® cruise. I was in a meeting on the cruise with about 250 people, who were there to hear Barbara and me speak. I opened it up for questions at the end.
One woman held her hand up. I took the microphone over to her. She said, “My son came home the other day—, my adult son—and he said, ‘Mom / Dad, I’ve met the young lady that I want to spend the rest of my life with.’” She said, kind of appropriately—she said, [whispering] “Well, we didn’t know the young lady. We thought, ‘Well, we’re excited for you, son. We trust you, but—
Bob: Trust, but verify it.
Dennis: She didn’t “trust but verify,” at that point. She said it wasn’t but a couple weeks later till the parents of the young lady invited the young man, and her, and her husband to go over there.
She said: “My husband and I had attended ‘I Still Do,’ back about a decade ago. When we left, you gave a marriage covenant. We had signed it. We had had our kids witness it, and it’s hanging in our house.”
She said, “When we walked in the young lady’s house, guess what we saw in a prominent place of that house? It was a signed ‘I Still Do’ marriage covenant that had been witnessed by the kids.” She was weeping as she said this—she said, “Now, I know that that doesn’t answer all the questions; but I knew we were in the right place—that the young lady had seen something similar to what our son had seen in us.”
Bob, I really believe this event is about this generation today and helping them keep their marriage promise; but it’s also about the next generation of young people today who are coming up, in my opinion, in one of the most challenging cultures that young people could possibly grow up in. There are so many different messages and so many avenues of getting to them with distortions or with things that aren’t true. I just think, “If there’s ever been a time we need to rally together, as a Christian community on behalf of marriage, as God designed it, it’s today.”
Bob: When we contacted Dr. Al Mohler, who is the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky—a well-known author and speaker / many of our listeners know Dr. Mohler—we contacted him and said, “Is there any way you could join us for these events next fall?”
Dennis: Yes; he said, “No!”
Bob: He said—
Dennis: — I can’t do it.”
Bob: —“I’m looking at my schedule. I wish I could, but I can’t.” We said, “Well, we wish you could too.” Then, three days later, I got a call back from his secretary. She said, “Dr. Mohler is trying to rearrange his schedule so that he can be at these events.”
I talked to him later; and I said, “Thanks for scrambling.” He said, “You know, this is important.” He said: “The condition of marriage in our culture today is so critical. We’re at a critical juncture. There’s never been a season before like the season we’re in, where Christians need to say: ‘God’s design for marriage is a wonderful thing. It’s a glorious thing. It’s a joyful thing.’”
That’s what this day is really all about—sending that message, reinforcing it with one another, learning how to do it better, and then saying to our friends and neighbors: “God’s plan works. It’s a good plan, and you need to check this out.”
Dennis: I think one of the reasons why marriage has come under assault in the last few years is because we, who are followers of Jesus Christ, have really not done a good job of keeping our own homes in order. Unfortunately, we weren’t building up marriages, equipping marriages, and celebrating success in marriages nearly often enough.
I mean, we ought to be celebrating couples on their 25th, their 35th, 40th, 45, 50, 60, and beyond. I just had a friend who said his dad just died. He said, “My dad and my mom had been married for 71 years.”
I think we have to find some fresh ways to let the saints—the patriarchs—the folks who have walked the long road, and they haven’t quit. And they did make it work. They hung in there—maybe for not all the right reasons and maybe not perfectly—because none of us are doing it perfectly. But you know what? They kept their promise, and they didn’t quit.
That’s really what I want to see happen at “I Still Do.” I want to talk to people who are doing it. I also want to talk to people about how they can leave “I Still Do” with a very simple plan—not only for their own marriage, to make it better—but also how to help the marriages and families in their neighborhoods, their communities, their church, and make a difference all across the country.
I think we can literally touch a half-million people by virtue of the simulcast we’re having on October 4th, when we meet together at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. I think—between the people who come live / the people who come and watch online, around the world, by the way—it’s a global simulcast—I think we’re going to touch hundreds of thousands of people. What I hope to do is stir a spiritual awakening around returning to God’s blueprints for marriage and family.
Bob: And you know—to go to your kids and say: “Hey, Mom and Dad are going to be gone for the day on this particular Saturday. We have it lined up. You’re going to be with your friends on that day,” or, “There’s going to be a babysitter coming. Here’s why Mom and Dad are going to a one-day marriage event called ‘I Still Do.’”
You’re sending a message to your kids.
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: You’re saying to them: “This relationship between the two of us is something that’s so important we invest in it. You can feel good about the home you live in because Mom and Dad are committed to one another.”
Dennis: I had a conversation with a friend, named Ron, this morning. He was saying: “Oh, we can’t go on this thing. We can’t leave our daughter.” I said: “Look. Your daughter’s going to do just fine.”
Dennis: “If you’ll invest this day in your marriage—for this weekend—this one weekend—there are 51 other weekends throughout the year. Your daughter is going to be much better off on the other 51 if you guys get away and sit, and soak, and hear something that encourages you to fulfill your marriage pledge.”
Bob: Well, and I have to tell you that the day is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be exciting. We have Andrew Peterson coming to do a mid-day concert. We have Ron McGehee and Kerri Pomarolli—husband and wife comedians—coming to join us. Jim and Carol Shores will be doing drama. I mean, this is a one-day event that’s designed to draw you closer, as a couple, and designed to have you lock-in on what really matters in your marriage—to make an investment in your relationship that’ll help you get to the finish line, holding hands and smiling at each other.
You can go to IStilDo.com. The information you need is available there—but you can buy tickets for the event in Chicago, on August 2nd, at the Allstate Arena; for the event at the Moda Center in Portland, on August 23rd; or for the event in Washington, DC, on October 4th.
If you don’t live near any of those three cities, and you’d like to host your own “I Still Do” event, the October 4th event is going to be a world-wide simulcast. Your church or any location in your community can be a host site for this one-day event. You can have a rally in your community to say, “Marriage matters to us,” as well. Invite couples from your church, from other churches to join you and be a part of the simulcast.
Information about the simulcast is available at IStilDo.com. We’re asking listeners to share with us wedding photos. Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s wedding pictures; Crawford and Karen Loritts’ wedding pictures; Al Mohler and his wife, Mary’s, wedding pictures; Mary Ann and me—we have wedding pictures up for us, as well. We’re asking you to scan in your wedding pictures and load them on our website because we’re looking for—well, here’s what we’re honestly looking for—we’re looking for hairstyles and tuxedos that have gone completely out of date;
—alright? We’re just looking to see how weddings have changed over the years.
We’re also asking you to share with us if you have a honeymoon horror story or a wedding day disaster story—we’re looking for the top stories. There may actually be prizes associated with some of this stuff. And we’d like you to share: “What was your song when you got married? Did you have a special pop song?” We may be using some of these songs during “I Still Do” in the months ahead, and we’d love to use your song.
So, go to IStilDo.com. Find out more about the event—load some pictures, share some stories with us, and be a part of what we hope God is going to do in a big way as we say: “Marriage really does matter in our culture and our society. It matters to us / it matters to our children. We want our marriage to be all that God intends for it to be.” Again, the website to go to: IStilDo.com.
We want to say, “Thank you,” by the way, to friends of FamilyLife who are helping us make these events possible.
When you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, this is a part of what you’re supporting. You are helping underwrite the costs associated with a one-day event like this—along with our daily radio program, the resources we’re creating, our website, our mobile apps—all that we’re putting together. You help make that possible when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If you’d like to help us with a donation, we would appreciate it. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, where it says, “I Care,” and make an online donation. If you do, we will send you a set of three prayer cards designed to help you pray more effectively for one another in your family. You can also call to make a donation at 1-800-FL-TODAY. When you call, make sure you let us know that you’d like the prayer cards sent out to you. We’ll get those to you. And you can mail a donation to FamilyLife Today. Our mailing address is PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. The zip code is 72223.
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Now, I hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to explore the challenges of marriage. Our friends, Jim and Carol Shores, are going to be here to help us in that exploration. Jim and Carol perform as Acts of Renewal, a drama team. We’ll hear some of their work on tomorrow’s program. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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