Proverbs 18:22 - Homiletics
The blessedness of true marriage
The Bible does not regard marriage as "a failure," nor does it treat celibacy as a more saintly condition. Even St. Paul, who does not seem to have been a married man, and who is thought by some to undervalue marriage, gives to it a eulogium in describing the union of husband and wife as a copy of the mystical union of Christ and his Church ( Ephesians 5:22-32 ).
I. THE BLESSEDNESS OF MARRIAGE .
1 . The companionship of love. The creation of woman is ascribed to the need of this. "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone" ( Genesis 2:18 ). In a true marriage a man's wife is his best friend. Fellowship of soul makes the union more than a mere contract of external relationship. Now, this fellowship is greatly needed for solace amid the cares of life, and strength to face its difficulties. The wife is able to give it to her husband, and the husband to the wife, as no persons in the outer circle of social relationship can hope to offer it.
2 . Mutual helpfulness. In the narrative of the creation, God says, concerning Adam, "I will make him a help meet for him" ( Genesis 2:18 ). Woman is degraded when she is treated as a toy of idle hours, to amuse in the drawing room, but not to take her share in the serious concerns of life. No true woman would desire so idle a position. The wife who understands the Christian calling will aim at ministering to her husband in all ways of helpfulness that are within her power, but chiefly in helping his higher life; and the duty of the husband towards the wife will be similar.
3 . Variety of ministration. The wife is not the counterpart of the husband, but the complement. Human nature is completed in the union of the two. Therefore it is not the part of women to imitate men, nor is inferiority to be assigned to women because they differ from men. The rich, fall, perfect human life is attained by the blending of differences.
II. THE SECRET OF THIS BLESSEDNESS . No ideal of human life can be more beautiful than that of the happy home. The serious question is how it shall be realized.
1 . By adaptation. Every woman is not suitable forevery man. Hasty courtships may lead to miserable marriages. So serious a matter as the choice of a companion for life is not to be lightly undertaken if there is to be any hope of its issuing in happiness.
2 . By sympathy. There must be mutual confidence between husband and wife if the marriage is to be one of true and lasting blessedness. The Oriental cruelty of imprisonment in the harem, and the Western cruelty of degradation in domestic drudgery, are both fatal to the idea of marriage. Whatever be their position in the social scale, it is possible for husbands and wives to share one another's interests and enlarge one another's lives by conceding the fullest mutual confidence.
3 . By self-sacrifice. Selfishness is fatal to marriage. Love must learn to give, to suffer, to endure. The happiness is most complete when each seeks it chiefly for the other.
4 . By religion. The true marriage must be ratified in heaven. Its happiness may be wrecked on so many hidden rocks that it is not safe to venture on to the unknown sea without the assurance that God is guiding the voyage.
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