It was not by accident that the first recorded miracle of Jesus happened at a wedding. Jesus was at the first wedding recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis and he chose to be at the wedding in Cana of John 2. Weddings are important to God because marriage is important to him. In Scripture, marriage is an oft repeated picture God uses to illustrate His relationship with his people. God takes marriage very seriously.
There is a danger in American churches that we are inadvertently contributing to marital strife through busyness and the emphasis upon service to the congregation. In some cases one spouse in a marriage is so busy at church that the other spouse can feel neglected. The church should never be the agent of separation in a marriage, yet sometimes this is the case.
When the divorce rate in the church approaches that of the society at large, we must conclude that something is wrong with the way we are presenting or living out the Gospel. When our marriages are not noticeably different than those of the non-believers around us, then a little bit of self assessment is in order.
As church leaders, we should be doing everything possible to make sure that we are supporting marriages and not doing anything to strain them. We should not be giving responsibilities to people that put stress on marriage and family life. Since God takes marriage seriously, church leaders will be called to give an account of how they supported the marriages in their care. While we may not be able to prevent divorce in our congregations, we certainly should not be adding stress which contributes to it.
Can we take the time to reassess all the activities in the church to be sure that they are necessary? Can we reassess each program and ministry to see if it is achieving the desired result? Can we be bold enough to stop doing the stuff that really doesn’t need to be done? Can we make sure that what is getting done is not taking a toll on marriages and family?
Here are some questions that should be asked when church activities are straining a marriage:
- Who are you serving? Jesus said that a marriage was put together by God (Matthew 19:6). Are you really serving God if your ministry causes division in your marriage?
- Who are you avoiding? Are you using ministry to avoid relationship with your spouse? Workaholism in the church is no better than workaholism in the business world.
- Who are you helping? By creating tension in your marriage, who are you really helping? Can you really be used by God to minister to others when you are neglecting your spouse?
We can’t ignore signs of difficulty because the stuff that is getting done makes our lives easier. When ministry is having a negative impact on marriage, the leaders must take action. To do anything less is negligence.