Marrying someone other than a faithful member of the Lord’s church was never a personal option for me. I couldn’t imagine spending my life with someone with whom I wasn’t going to spend eternity. Neither did I want to marry a person with whom I couldn’t pray. If God ever blessed me with children, I didn’t want them growing up in a religiously divided home and likely influenced to take the wrong spiritual path. I determined that if my future wife and I couldn’t go to church together and serve the Lord together, I’d rather be single. And the kind of woman I wanted to marry had to have the same high expectations.
I’m thankful that I eventually found my prospective bride, and during our courtship she and I discussed other fundamental convictions we needed to share. We both agreed that we ought not wait until after the “I do’s” were said to sort out critical issues. Decisions were mutually reached and set in granite before making such a monumental commitment. Here are some of the things we have never allowed to be optional in our marriage.
1. Divorce. We promised each other that the word “divorce” would not be part of our vocabulary. Our wedding vows included a lifelong devotion to God and to each other, which we have taken very seriously. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6b NKJV). Despite the not-so-enjoyable rough patches we have encountered along the way, even when divorce may have seemed like a tempting solution, it has never been considered. We have thus been compelled to work through challenging setbacks, ultimately making our marriage stronger.
2. Dishonesty. Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. From the beginning we both agreed to always be honest with each other. If one is caught off guard by the other and asked a pointed question, there is no pause to think about whether or not to be truthful. Even when it might seem unpleasant, there is no automatic switch into lying mode. Honesty really is the best policy, and the tangled web of deceit is thereby precluded. Love “rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6b).
3. Secrets. Keeping secrets from one another is not something my wife and I do, birthday surprises notwithstanding. We share the same bank account and checkbooks, we know each other’s personal identification numbers and passwords, and we have access to each other’s cellphones and computers. If anyone (especially a woman) wants to confide in me in the strictest of confidence, I let this person know from the start that I don’t hide anything from my wife. If she can’t know about it, then I shouldn’t be told. I can keep a secret from anyone but her. “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her” (Proverbs 31:10-11a).
4. Infidelity. While I can’t imagine being unfaithful to my wife and vice versa, I am not so naïve to think that our marriage is uniquely immune from the evil allurements of this world that attack other couples. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Making a big difference for us in avoiding this terrible pitfall are the precautions we have deliberately taken, particularly the first three non-optional matters listed above.
5. Consuming Intoxicants. I realize this is a non-issue for a lot of people, but in our premarital conversations it was a deal breaker. We have witnessed too many evils associated with beverage alcohol, and we didn’t want our family plagued by something so easily avoided. Why would we allow anything into our home that has so much destructive potential? If we have to depend on a dangerous synthetic stimulant to enjoy or improve or maintain our marriage and social life, there are deeper problems to address. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
6. Not Going to Church. It’s all about priorities. I want my family to be together forever. I want to help my wife and children go to heaven, I want them to help me go to heaven, and we want to take as many souls with us as we can. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25). In our family, attending the assemblies of the church is not questioned, negotiated, or debated. It’s simply what we do. God is first, and our extended church family has always been and continues to be such a blessing.
The above list will unlikely be adopted by the romance novel industry or find its way into many “happily-ever-after” self-help books. But these basic principles have significantly helped our marriage and have provided a solid basis for a healthy and stable home.
--Kevin L. Moore