So after forty years, Al and Tipper Gore are separating. A very public marriage fails after four decades, and the world is stunned. Immediately, the fallen seek to make sense of this failure, and attribute all sorts of reasons as to why the marital cement should crack after so many years of apparent solidity. “Why do marriages fail?” asked David Arp in Time Magazine. The possible reasons were listed throughout the article, speculated over, wondered about to the best of fallen man’s ability. Here they are:
What often happens is that the fun goes out of the marriage
The two of them decide they just can’t do this anymore
They took a detour onto the Appalachian Trail, (adultery)
They went though life change
It is a burden being in the public eye
A union of more than 35 or so years is not always pretty to behold.
They decided they did not enjoy the view.
They grew apart and the chasm was too wide to bridge.
After all these years of pretending, they can finally admit they never liked each other.
All those are external, superficial reasons. Life change? It happens to everybody, so if that is the criteria then no wonder half of all marriages fail! It is burdensome? Life is burdensome! Burdens happen to everybody. If that is the criteria then no wonder half of all marriages fail! It is typical of man to be so casual of his own sinful reasons for a sacred failure. “It’s not fun”, or “I don’t like the view” are horrific statements. But we know all this. We read from 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” We know man is fallen and getting worse each decade. We know that men trivialize the sacred, including marriage. We know that most are ungrateful and selfish. The above statements indicate the truth of the prophecy. So what else is there to say about this failed marriage? Let’s return to the national reaction for a moment for the deeper reason:
The Chicago Tribune said the “news came as a shock“. The Washington Post as “stunned.” The Huffington Post reports that friends are “dumfounded.” Tampa Bay Online reports that friend Chris Downey is “beyond shocked“.
Did you ever stop to think why, in this day and age, people are shocked and stunned at the failure of a 40-year marriage? After all, isn’t marriage ‘just a piece of paper’? And isn’t marriage, well, anything we want it to be, since men can marry men, women can marry women, and triads are the next thing? Can’t marriage end through ‘no fault’ these days? Dennis Hopper, who just died, was married 6 times and one of those was only for 8 days. Hollywood marriages, they call them. Women are discarded for the “flavor of the week”, men are “sugar daddies”. When illegals marry a citizen to become a citizen themselves marriage is simply a vehicle to citizenship. There are marriages of convenience, and when no longer convenient, we are told the just tear up ‘that piece of paper.’ Marriage is scorned, ripped, trivialized, redefined, used, and discarded. So why the shock? Sadness? Why the hoopla? If marriage is ‘nothing’ as our culture keeps telling us it is, then why aren’t people just saying, ‘oh well, too bad’ for Al & Tipper and move on?
Marriage is sacred, that’s why. Though the secular world denies it as sacred institution, marriage is in fact, a spiritual state to which our soul longs. Why? Because Jesus is in the middle of it. We long and thirst to fill that emptiness with Him. We are born with that emptiness and that thirst for Him, our Groom. Every sinner longs for the spiritual mirror of His security that Jesus provides for us through marriage and family. God so loves marriage that He uses it as a picture of the relationship Jesus has with His believers, the bride, and wants to have with unbelievers, His lost. That’s why marriage is sacred. That’s why we seek its enactment and mourn its failure, despite our culture’s apparent trivialization of it.
Marriage is described in the bible as a union becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24). This relationship is not centered on self with statements of “me and my” but on sacrifice toward the other, “us and our.” It is where our up and down relationship with Jesus translates to our back and forth relationship between husband and wife. A marital relationship without Jesus will ultimately fail, either publicly like the Gores, or spiritually, privately. A Godly marriage is a spiritual blessing. An ungodly marriage is man’s palest and worst presentation of fleshliness, doubled.
The world is “shocked” because at heart we, the bride, are empty without our Groom. Deep in our souls, the only Person who can fill that emptiness inside us is Jesus. Marriage is sacred, no matter how the people try to sweep it under the rug. And the reaction to the Gore’s failed marriage shows us that despite man’s best attempts to crush marriage as a sacred institution, the thirst for the Divine is in all of us.