“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” Matthew 22:29, 30.
To many people this is one of the greatest promises in all the Bible. These are the two verses that have given countless scores of miserable people, who are held in bondage by their marriage vows, strength to continue. While some-especially the naïve youth who think that marriage is just bliss-think this is a most discouraging passage, Jesus saw that it was the very promise that some people needed. Most people would be happier unmarried. For most people marriage is a galling yoke.
“Few have correct views of the marriage relation. Many seem to think that it is the attainment of perfect bliss; but if they could know one quarter of the heartaches of men and women that are bound by the marriage vow in chains that they cannot and dare not break, they would not be surprised that I trace these lines. Marriage, in a majority of cases, is a most galling yoke. There are thousands that are mated but not matched. The books of heaven are burdened with the woes, the wickedness, and the abuse that lie hidden under the marriage mantle. This is why I would warn the young who are of a marriageable age to make haste slowly in the choice of a companion. The path of married life may appear beautiful and full of happiness; but why may not you be disappointed as thousands of others have been?” The Adventist Home, 44.
Most of the success we observe in marriage is a put-on, and so few know it. It seems like everyone thinks they are the only ones that are putting on and everyone else is lucky enough to have a lot better marriage-but of course they are not going to let anyone else know that their marriage is not what it should be. (And they should not. What they should do is just get down to business and correct the situation, but the trouble is they do not know how or where to go. No one has told them that God has the only answer.)
Not only does the public not know about the galling yoke that is weighing down so many of their acquaintances, but many times even their spouses do not know. The poor people are carrying a most heavy load all by themselves. To these people, Christ’s promise is a most blessed assurance. But until Christ’s promise is fulfilled in heaven, they need help-they need someone to direct them to the source of happiness. They need someone of their own sex whom they can trust, and who has the answers, and who has true purity and understanding. This is where many Adventist women can fill a great role. While there are sometimes godly pastors who the men can counsel with, often there are few godly women that other women can go to for counsel in times of need. (It might interest you to know that this is where both E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones began to get off track. They had a burden for helping women with their problems and they got themselves and these other women into problems.) We need more women counselors. For those who would like to gain the knowledge necessary to do this, a good place to start is with the section on the home, in The Ministry of Healing.
Marriage-Like a Taste of Heaven or Hell?
To most people, marriage is a galling yoke. Is it any wonder that Paul said: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.” 1 Corinthians 7:1, 7, 8.
“Satan is constantly busy to hurry inexperienced youth into a marriage alliance. But the less we glory in the marriages which are now taking place, the better.” The Adventist Home, 80.
Why did they say these things? Were Paul and Mrs. White sour on marriage? No. Paul is the same author who wrote Ephesians 5 and Hebrews 13:4, and Mrs. White wrote many beautiful passages, about what marriage can be, in The Adventist Home. They were not down on marriage, they knew what a beautiful institution it was intended to be and which it can be. But they also knew how things usually are. They understood that the devil has more to do with many marriages than Christ. They understood that marriage is usually a symbol of hell rather than heaven. They have seen some of the “heartaches of men and women that are bound by the marriage vow in chains that they cannot and dare not break.” They knew that “marriage, in the majority of cases, is a most galling yoke.” This is why they warned “the young who are of marriageable age to make haste slowly. . . . The path of marriage life may appear beautiful and full of happiness; but why may not . . . [they] be disappointed as thousands of others have been?”
Paul was not sour on marriage, but his heart must have bled as he was shown the misery that has resulted from the marriage institution. What was intended to be a blessing has turned into a curse for many.
If Paul and Mrs. White warned against marriage, what should be our counsel to others?
“In this age of the world . . . the fewer the marriages contracted, the better for all, both men and women.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 366.
It is so easy when a married couple achieves a home which is a little heaven on earth, to want every other single friend to have the same experience. But the prophets have encouraged us to make haste slowly and the fewer marriages the better. Let us give the same counsel.
For most people marriage is a galling yoke. But suppose you are one of the rare people who follow God’s counsel and have a little heaven in your home and you wish that your happy marriage could continue throughout eternity. Do not worry, God never takes anything away but what He gives something better. In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we read about heaven, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
But as to what God has prepared for our family relation in heaven, the silence is golden. We are not to speculate. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29. (See also Selected Messages, Book 1, 173.)
While a majority of marriages are a galling yoke, even most of the minority that are left are not heaven. While many marriages are not yet a perfect hell, they are far from being a heaven either. “There is not one marriage in one hundred that results happily, that bear the sanction of God, and places the parties in a position better to glorify Him.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 504. Oh, they may experience a few thrills along the way, but the real peace and lasting happiness and security of heaven are not there.
Some might say: “Only one in one hundred? Why, no wonder my marriage is lousy, I do not have a chance.” Yes, it is true that less than one in a hundred have happy homes, but that is because less than one in a hundred follow God. But every couple can have perfect happiness at home if they choose. And it works much better if they choose together.
Every couple can achieve all that God intended for their home if they choose together. Choose together, study together, work at it together, pray about it together and claim Matthew 18:19 together. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.” And in all your togetherness, maintain your individual relationship and devotions with God. He claims your highest service. Never forget Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
What If Only You Choose?
But what happens if your partner does not care? If this is the case, you may not be able to have a happy home, but you can have happiness through Christ and you can bear the burden silently and quietly, pouring out your burdens only to God, until the day that Christ gives you something better than marriage. If you are called to suffer for Christ’s sake, rejoice. For Christ said, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:38.
Whenever one person decides to follow Christ all the way (in the marriage relation as well as in all other affairs of life) and the other person has not decided to do so (even though the other person may be a Seventh-day Adventist) there is always friction. Not because the one following Christ has brought friction, but because the other person is resisting Christ and His way. Jesus said: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36.
We do not live in a world of peace. Even when we are following God ourselves, we are not always going to have an ideal home situation. Jesus was accused and spit upon and beaten and crucified, not because He had done wrong, but because others had done wrong. We do not always receive our just reward in this life-either for good or for evil.
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” Matthew 10:24, 25.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11, 12.
These texts apply as much to the home as anywhere else. This life is a preparatory period for the one above. We do not need to expect that we will go through without trials. If we could get to heaven without having any trials, we would not feel that we had any right to the place. “Would you enter heaven if you could without suffering, and dwell in the presence of that Jesus, who suffered so much for us? . . . O, it would be no place for you. Any other place would be far preferable. You would feel that you had no right there.” Review and Herald, February 17, 1853. But when we get to heaven, we will have passed through trials and overcome, and we will feel we have a perfect right to the city. (See Early Writings, 17.)
However, remember, many people suffer trial and heartache, not for Christ’s sake, but because of their own stubbornness and fanaticism. The only suffering that results in blessing is that which is suffered for Christ’s sake.
Our duty, as we follow Christ, is not to be loved, but to love. Our duty in our home, as we seek to follow Christ’s example, is not to be loved, but to love. (1 John 4:7-10.) This, all of us can do. We may not all receive love, but we can all give love. Our duty is to love, and we must trust God to supply us with the love we all need. This is a matter of developing faith, and God will not let us down.
“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Matthew 10:29, 30.
Our duty is to learn to love. We must love first, not for reward, but because Christ first loved us. We must trust and wait for the reward from Christ. As we show this unselfish love, in many cases, we will win the affection and love of our partners over to us.
The apostles spoke of this. Paul said, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” 1 Corinthians 7:14, 16. Peter also admonished, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” 1 Peter 3:1.
No, not everyone will be won, but, the more loving we become, the greater the probabilities. And if it does not happen, count yourself a partner with God-His love is rejected all of the time.
The Work of Sanctification
But what happens when you both decide to follow God by patterning your home after His? Will you have heaven the next morning? No. You can and will have heaven, on this earth, in your home, and it can start tomorrow (today even), but it will be a growing process. It will be a growing process that will not end in this life. You can have sanctified homes, but, “there is no such thing as instantaneous sanctification. True sanctification is a daily work, continuing as long as life shall last.” Sanctified Life, 10.
“Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 340.
“The Scriptures plainly show that the work of sanctification is progressive.” The Great Controversy, 470.
“Sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 65.
The sanctification of the home is the work of a lifetime. Let none think they have arrived. No matter how much happiness you may have experienced in your home today, you can experience more tomorrow. No matter how much sorrow you may have experienced in your home today, you can, in the future, have a sanctified, happy home-if you start the process of sanctification today. “With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.
Have faith in God. Trust your life to Him. He will not let you down. He is as concerned about you as if you were the only person on the face of the universe. (Steps to Christ, 100.)
Enter this school toward a sanctified home, today. You can do this by having daily devotions (prayer, mediation and the study of God’s word), by learning of God’s character and then treating your spouse and children as God treats you. Pattern your relationships after the heavenly.
“To gain a proper understanding of the marriage relation is the work of a lifetime. Those who marry enter a school from which they are never in this life to be graduated.” The Adventist Home, 105.
The articles on the family we have printed these last four months have been but a brief introduction. There is so much more we have not covered: communication, finances, recreation, the relation of healthful living to the home, excess and insufficiency of the physical union, and much more. But the answers are in God’s word-in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Are you studying these books? (A five-minute glance is not studying.) We should have books like The Adventist Home worn out.
Read no faster than you can assimilate. If all you can absorb at one time is one sentence, spend your whole hour of study on that one sentence, praying and pleading with God to make it a part of your life. God’s word is not to be read as a story book, it is to be eaten, digested and absorbed into our lives as fruit from the tree of life. Every word that Christ has given to us is for our happiness and the success of our homes. (John 15:11.)
And along with your reading, pray. Pray to God as you would talk to a friend. Learn to enjoy communion with Him, and soon the fifteen minutes, the half hour, the hour that you are spending in prayer with God, in the morning, will be the most precious part of the day. Tell Him your burdens and joys, your desires and heartaches. He will listen and He will help. He will walk with you all day long. He will sanctify you and He will sanctify your home, with the peace and joy of heaven.
“It is in accord with the will of God that man and wife should be linked together in His work, to carry it forward in a wholeness and a holiness. They can do this.
“The blessing of God in the home where this union shall exist is as the sunshine of heaven, because it is the Lord’s ordained will that man and wife should be linked together in holy bonds of union, under Jesus Christ, with Him to control, and His spirit to guide. . . .
“God wants the home to be the happiest place on earth, the very symbol of the home in heaven. Bearing the marriage responsibilities in the home, linking their interests with Jesus Christ, leaning upon His arm and His assurance, husband and wife may share a happiness in this union that angels of God commend.” The Adventist Home, 102.