I’d like to continue on the theme of marriage and the wider church family in this last post!
24:5 also helps us think about how we view marriage
“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home for one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.”
and I think that there is a real call here to protect fledgling marriages. Those newly married couples within our community need time to grow and strengthen their love and care for each other. They need time to argue about what toothpaste to use and what to do with the toilet seat! Because as I’ve said, marriage is hard. By allowing couples to solidify their relationship, without the pressure of doing too much extra, will only benefit the community in the long term.
Whilst this does discount going off to war, we should be careful to remember that these laws fit into a community who would worship together. And so whilst we should love and care for those who are newly married and not put too much pressure on them – this shouldn’t mean that the doors are barricaded and we don’t see them for 12 months, but that the new family unit is given the chance to work out how best to serve God and the wider church family together – and in the context of this part of Deuteronomy I think that that means the family can play a part too. Helping, guiding, listening, praying with the new couple. As grown up and “on it” as we all think we are, the church family – even ours – is blessed with older, wiser people who have seen it, done it and worked through it before.
We were helpfully reminded during the summer about being able to rejoice in all things. That in all situations we should be more reliant on God to provide for our needs. We have great depth in our church family, let’s not be too proud to use it!
Marriage is important to how the church family works. But it is not the be all and end all. God’s people are not all married, and nor should they be. But strong marriages do seem to play a part in how that community stays together – and grows, spiritually and physically.
If you are single reading this please, PLEASE, PLEASE do not see it as a rallying call to all who are married at the expense of those who are not. It is far from that. It is a rallying call; but one for greater openness, greater honesty, greater humility and most of all greater unity. Whether married or not, if we call ourselves Christians, then we have a role to play in keeping our church family together, strong and united.
Whether we are married or not we are all saved in the same way. We all come before God’s throne as broken sinners in need of salvation. We all need the help of God’s Spirit, God’s word and God’s people to help us along the road. I said on Sunday that with the trials that will surely come, we need to strengthen the bonds between us, so that we can stand together, united around Christ, His cross and His words.