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Marriage Has No Future

"Now is the time. That word, “marriage”, which used to be so highly valied has no future."


**This is a personal website and reflects my thoughts and convictions. It does not represent any official position held by Youth With A Mission.**

Australia was one of the few countries that took the question of same sex marriage to the voters and they voted over 60% in favour of same sex marriage. So what? Well, it demonstrates that the process of redefining the word is complete in the thinking of most people in Western societies. (We need to remember, though, that the great majority of people in the world do not live in Western societies and they have rarely adopted this view.)

Some individuals in the nations that have authorised same-sex marriage have realised that it has opened a door to interpret the word as they wish. Some are seeking recognition of their right to marry a pet. One man in Arizona applied to marry his horse and an English millionaire woman married a dolphin. I have no idea what thinking lies behind these acts, but they serve to demonstrate that the word “marriage” can now have many interpretations.

Some commentators have predicted that the doors are now open for “marriages” between three or more people. If there are any tax or inheritance advantages to being “married” then we will see more and more “marriages” that simply serve financial purposes. Others might get “married” to someone, or more than one, or to animals or things for the sake of publicity.

We have set out on a road without thinking enough about its destination. Eventually, governments will admit that when they abandoned the long-held traditional definition of marriage (as being between a man and a woman), they abandoned any clear meaning of the word. From that point, there will be no reference to it in law.

Will it continue to have social or cultural meaning? In a word, NO. Already nearly half of all marriages break up and the trend is increasing. As the percentages increase, the meaning of the word fades into no meaning at all.

But, I’m a man who has been happily, joyfully, contentedly married to the same woman for 47 years; we have four children and eleven grandchildren together. Marriage is not meaningless to me! When we got married in 1970, marriage had a firm Christian meaning. Those who married, did so “in the sight of God and man” with the intention of keeping their vows with God’s

help. And He has helped, and is helping us! Do I have to abandon the word? At this point, I think I do.

Nearly six years ago Dr Patrick Dixon spoke to an international group of missionary workers here at Highfield Oval, Harpenden, where I live. He could see that governments were intent on taking authority over marriage and family and that it was very likely that they would redefine the word. He told us that if they did, Christians would have to come up with a new term. He was right (and he usually is)!

So, now is the time. That word, “marriage”, which used to be so highly valied has no future.

I recently had a conversation around this subject with a wise friend who is a Member of Parliament here in London. I asked him if he thought we needed to start using a different term and he said, “Yes, we will need to refer to it as Holy Matrimony.” So, in other words, we don’t want to invent a term, but we should go back to an old term that has fallen out of use except in formal marriage ceremonies.

Holy Matrimony. I like it.

You might think that it will never catch on, but that is not the point. Our favoured word has been drained of meaning, so we cannot continue to use it without losing our distinctive identity as followers of Jesus Christ. There might even be a real advantage to adopting the old term. If those who really do intend to make and keep holy covenant before God and man use that term, then we might see a telling statistical difference between those who “get married” and those who “enter into Holy Matrimony”. If we sincerely mean what the traditional service says—that we make these vows before God, our Helper, and that we need the support of the community of followers of Jesus—then we will surely have a much lower failure rate than those who “get married” without clear faith and without the Family of Believers supporting them.

Holy Matrimony. I could get used to it. Could you?

Lynn Green and his wife Marti first came to England and began the work of Youth With A Mission here in 1971. From 2004-2011 Lynn was YWAM’s International Chairman. He continues to convene YWAM’s global leadership meetings, and focuses much of his energy on international leadership development.

9 comments on “Marriage Has No Future

  1. This is Golden
    I have been wondering how to term my marriage as one set apart under God. Holy Matrimony it is…

  2. Great idea! THanks for take time for this!

  3. Warwick Murphy

    I have often thought that the others needed to come up with a new word for their relationships, but I take your point that the word ‘marriage’ has become too diluted. I like your suggestion of change to ‘holy matrimony’.

  4. Rick Miller

    Holy Matrimony, I like it. It is the word/model I would like to chose and model my Marriage after. A cord of three strands is not easily broken…

  5. Janna Becker

    I’ve been thinking this for a while, too. I had come up with ‘covenented’. I like either.
    The idea that marriage was designed to reflect Christ and the Church, and to raise children to know the LORD has certainly fallen by the wayside. I am also interested in your thesis that the stats would be different. How refreshing for Christians to be different again!

  6. Dan Ganfield

    Hi Lynn. Thanks for sharing this. One of the things that I believe has contributed to western culture’s redefining marriage is the failure to understand and experience in marriage the depth and extent to which God intended for a married man and woman to become “one.” Genesis 2:24 says “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” My mind was opened to this reality during my wife’s year-and-a-half long fight with cancer and since her eventual passing late last year. At the time that we were diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, our eyes were profoundly opened to the extent to which we had become one during our forty six years of marriage. As the end of our earthly life together was threatened, we saw the myriad ways in which we had become one, and we savored and celebrated it to the end. Since her passing, I have continued to experience the progressive separation of my life from the shared “us” life that we had together. Becoming one is not something that a legal or religious ceremony alone can confer upon a man and a woman (or upon any other group of persons). Having lost sight of what God intended marriage to be, it is not surprising to me that our culture tries to superficially confer by law the rights, privileges, and blessings of marriage when in truth those benefits can only be achieved through love, sacrifice, kindness, patience, and years of life together becoming and being one.


  7. Elisabeth Chaproniere

    Thank you Lynn for this very helpful article! Roger and I will be using these words as we are in the process of planning to renew our “Holy Matrimony” vows after 55 years.

  8. That’s great! Marti and I are approaching 49, so the end of 2020 will be our 50th! Time flies when you’re having fun.

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