Last week, my wife and I celebrated our 17th anniversary, with one of our kids duly noting, “Your marriage is old enough to drive and almost old enough to vote!” Ashley and I have celebrated this momentous occasion by eating out, watching our wedding video and vows that I converted from VHS, and taking a marriage assessment test. (I know, fun right?) One of the greatest blessings in our marriage has been to listen and reflect on the inspired wisdom of others concerning love and marriage.
Instead of offering my own marriage experience for your inspiration, I want to share with you thoughts on marriage that inspire me from a collection of letters from another’s extraordinary life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German protestant minister who wrote from prison before his 1945 execution at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis. On May 15th, 1943, approximately six weeks after his arrest and missing the wedding ceremony of close friends due to being held in prison, Dietrich wrote these thoughts on marriage to the newlyweds.
“Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love, you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of generations. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal. It is marriage and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. Your love comes from you, but your marriage is from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
Today, I find Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letter writings on marriage from a Nazi prison to be refreshing and empowering. I believe the modern view marriage has often been reduced to an extravagant party or a temporary civil union. Bonhoeffer’s marital declaration bolsters my resolve to care for the marriage God has given me with my wife. It reminds me of my marriage’s purpose as a practical use in humanity but also as an example of God’s designs for others. Bonhoeffer’s writings echo the strong sentiments of scripture about marriage such as these writings from other letters:
“Let marriage be held in honor among all.” - Hebrews 13:4a
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” - Ephesians 5:31-33
Ashley and I want marriages in our community to not only survive but to thrive. We know that families thrive best when marriages are healthy. Kids tend to be happier and well cared for when Mom and Dad are enjoying a loving and trusting relationship. (For more on the effects of a happy marriage, visit the Huff Post article here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/happy-marriage-happy-kids_b_828370)
If we can help you strengthen your family by encouraging your marriage relationship, offering marital resources, or by praying for you to our God, please let us know. May your family be blessed with fortitude through marriage!