On Marriage and Happiness - June 28th

By Judy Nichols

June 28, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has decreed that same-sex marriage is now legal in all fifty states, despite the fact that thirty states had voted, some overwhelmingly, to protect the God-given definition of marriage in their states. I am not here to debate the merits or demerits of that decree. What I do want to address is an error I believe has crept not only into our culture but also into the church and which has impacted the discussion of marriage. This error is believing that God’s highest priority for mankind is happiness.

I am not saying that God does not want us to be happy. Of course, He does. He created this earth with it’s perfect position in the solar system, it’s lush, resilient, and nurturing environment with its multitude of beautiful sights and sounds and tastes and textures to make our existence here good, to facilitate our happiness.

But I will posit that the period of mankind’s greatest happiness here on earth was when they walked with God in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day, before the entrance of sin and shame. God created Adam in His own image so that they could be friends. Do we not all enjoy most the company of like-minded people? So I will further posit that mankind’s greatest happiness is to be found in his relationship to God. And still further, that true happiness is not to be found apart from that relationship.

But therein lies the problem. The entrance of sin and shame into the world estranged us from God. We found ourselves helpless and hopeless to re-establish the relationship from our end. To make a very long story short, God took the initiative to allow mankind to be reconciled with Him through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ. Our faith in His atoning work remits the guilt of our sin, enabling us to once again enjoy sweet fellowship with God.

The story doesn’t end there, however. Because we do still have that inherent sin nature (and we do follow its dictates far too often), our experience of our friendship with God is not what it could be. Hence, the Scripture’s call to eschew those things that God has said are displeasing to Him and do the things that do please Him. As far back as the first generation after Adam and Eve, God said to Cain, "Why has your face fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?" (Gen. 4:6-7). He was telling Cain that if he did the things that please God, he would be happy.

This is not obeying the rules because we have to, but doing the things we know please the one we love. I make and eat things for supper that I’m not particularly fond of simply because I know my husband loves them. And I, of course, would never do anything that I knew would deeply offend him. I want to please him because I love him and I know he loves me. When we apply this concept to our relationship with God, it is called holiness.

And I believe holiness God’s highest priority for mankind, because without holiness we cannot experience true happiness. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to, "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."

Marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual, may or may not make you happy. It is certain that it will not make you happy all the time – my forty-two years of wedded bliss have been marked by many instances of hardship, heartache, conflict, and unmet needs. And ultimately we will both die and the fact that we remained faithfully married all these years will be a moot point. But knowing Christ and striving to live a life that is pleasing to God, even if it means giving up for His sake what is dearest to us here and now, will assuredly make us holy and guarantee us both temporal and eternal happiness.

© Judy Nichols 2015

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