Preparing for Marriage
We were giving a tour yesterday, here in the facility, and one of the young ladies on the tour is about to be married here in Oklahoma. And during the chat I told her that I had been married almost 14 years. And her face really lit up when I said that; I didn’t think it was any great revelation, but she seemed excited, and said, “Well, wow, that’s quite an achievement.” And, I guess in this age, to say that you’ve been married for 14 years, it is somewhat of an achievement. Because marriage is fast becoming obsolete, as Mr. Armstrong said it would many years ago.
Mr. Fraser recently wrote on theTrumpet.com referring to a Washington Post article that had a very similar title to what Mr. Armstrong titled his booklet from 40 or 50 years ago. And this Post article from November 18 said that “Four in 10 Say Marriage Is Becoming Obsolete.” That was the title that really caught Mr. Fraser’s attention. And the article says, “As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren’t needed to have a family.”
And, so when Mr. Fraser read that, he immediately thought of what Mr. Armstrong said and how he introduced his booklet that went by the title Why Marriage. Soon Obsolete? he asked. And if you think about that, I mean given the fact that it was written 40 to 50 years ago, here’s just one of many, many statements that Mr. Armstrong made over the course of his ministry that was way ahead of his time. I mean, it’s prophecy now that is being fulfilled.
He continued in his article; this is Mr. Fraser speaking now: “Should the trend continue exponentially, then within another lifetime, two thirds of society would believe that marriage was obsolete—if in fact the marriage institution itself was able to survive as an entity by then. The reality is that if marriage as an institution does not survive, then civilization as we know it will literally collapse!” That is the reality. It certainly is.
Revelation 19, let’s just look at this to begin with. That’s the reality. It’s the same warning that Mr. Armstrong issued a half century ago where he said in one of his publications, “Family life in the Western world is crumbling. Why?” he asks, “Where is it all leading?” And then he made this statement, which we’ve used so often: “The very foundation of any stable civilization is a solid family structure. Today’s civilization with its foundation disintegrating, is itself on the way out!” He wrote that back in 1985. Civilization is on the way out because families have broken down, because families have fallen apart. And when you understand why family, you can see why Satan is working so hard to destroy it—to destroy marriage and family.
Revelation 19 here and verse 1: “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power unto the Lord our God.” And then down in verse 5 it says, “And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all you his servants, and you that fear him, both small and great.  And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns.  Let us be glad,” verse 7 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice ….” Are we really glad and grateful? Are we rejoicing at what’s coming? “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come,” the marriage, God says, “and his wife has made herself ready.” This is speaking of a marriage within the God Family. God is a family-man. And His Son is to marry a wife. And we as the Church, we are members of that one body that is to marry Jesus Christ at His return. What a blessing it is to understand that calling. And no wonder we ought to be glad and filled with rejoicing.
Matthew 22. God wants us to make arrangements to be at that wedding, to actually be in the wedding. Everyone in here has probably received a wedding invitation before, and you have to respond by a certain date. And some of you in here have even been in weddings. And there’s more that goes into that, as you probably know: preparations, finding the facility, taking care of all the dresses and the tuxedoes, inviting everyone, the invitation list, making arrangements for the honeymoon and all that. I mean, it’s a busy, busy time, as any soon-to-be-bride can tell you—sometimes even stressful and hectic—and always something that takes a lot of preparation and planning to get ready for.
Matthew 22 here and verse 1 says, “And Jesus answered and spoke unto them again by parables, and said,  The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son.” Now why would Christ use this analogy in the parables? It says, “ And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden,” or invited, “to the wedding: and they would not come.  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.  But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.” So here is a case where God’s issuing all of these invitations, but people are not interested; people are not glad and excited about it; people aren’t anxious to attend this event.
Verse 6 says, “And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.” I mean, they killed these righteous servants sending out these invites. Verse 7, “But when the king heard thereof, he was” angry or “wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  Then said he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were [invited] were not worthy.” They weren’t worthy to attend. They weren’t ready to attend. They hadn’t prepared for the marriage. And so you know what happens here. Verse 9, “Go you therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, bid to the marriage.” Verse 10 says, “So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.”
I mean, look at this world today, isn’t this the case generally? You have to search far and wide just to find individuals who are even interested in committing to the ways of God; who are even interested enough to prepare for marriage to Jesus Christ. Most are just so caught up in their own things, their own pursuits, their own selfish desires. And so God is searching for individuals who want this, who get excited about it, who are glad at the thought of marriage.
Verse 11, it says, “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment.” He wasn’t dressed appropriately. If you go to a wedding and someone doesn’t dress up, it stands out. I mean, weddings today, they’re, it’s one of maybe the last remaining events where people actually dress formally, and even that’s changing. The casual attire and look is becoming more prevalent. But it stands out if you were to walk into a great formal event and see someone dressed inappropriately. This man stood out.
Verse 12, it says, “And he said unto him, Friend, how came you in here not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.” What that means is, many have the opportunity to respond to the invite, but few,few will make themselves ready for it. Few will be truly prepared for it when the wedding event finally arrives. Marriage is something to prepare for—whether looking at it physically or spiritually.
Mr. Armstrong wrote this in The Missing Dimension in Sex. He says, “The years between ages 16 and 25 are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work.” Many of you are in that age bracket, 16 to 25, a vitally important bracket of age for life, it says, for preparing for your work. It says, “These are the crucial years of preparation. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career—either it be business, profession, occupation or marriage.” Or marriage, he says there. Marriage is, in fact, a career. In fact, it’s your most important career. Marriage and family—I mean, the spouse that you spend the rest of your life with—that’s something that you have to prepare for, just like you would any other career.
Now the sad fact in this world today is that many young people, perhaps without even realizing it, are doing much more to prepare for divorce, broken families, splitting apart, unhappy living. They’re actually preparing for those things. So many of them grow up in broken homes. Divorce is made to look normal, or even glamorous at times on the silver screen. Little or no thought in the minds of most young people today is given to dating for the purposes of serving and giving. Or dating widely in order to upbuild, and to develop the personality, to learn the art of conversation and fellowship. Instead of dating widely, like we teach here at God’s college, they “mate widely,” you could say. It’s just about promiscuous activities. Young people hopping from one relationship to the next, to the next, to the next. And then one day they’re meant to marry and spend the rest of their lives with that individual? After they’ve been searching and searching for what they can get out of a relationship, to make them happy, to make them satisfied. They never learn to give unselfishly in dating as a single. They never learn to build character and discipline as a single. So how should they be expected to do so as a married?
Ecclesiastes 3. God’s love is outflowing; it flows away from self. It’s the way of giving, of sharing, of caring. It’s the way of concern for others, even more than self in the case of your wife or your husband. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and verse 1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” We read this often here at this school. There’s “ A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” Most young people might read this and think of a song, I suppose, without really pausing on the words, the meaning, what Solomon’s getting across here. One season of time. One season in preparing for the next. The law of the farm. I mean, to get ready for the planting season you have to prepare the ground. To get ready for the growing season or the fruitful season, you have to work with the growth, the plants, and so on.
Verse 3 says, “A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” It says in verse 5, “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” There’s a time for romantic embrace, of course, and a time to be far away from that and to just date as brothers and sisters in a family should date: to give and to strengthen the family, the Family of God, to strengthen the Church of God. And then, as Mr. Armstrong said, after those years of preparation, after you’ve been made ready, then marriage is a beautiful and wonderful thing that has God’s blessing. That has God’s blessing.
1 Peter 2, we’ll just conclude over here. Those who still do marry, there’s just so few today that even give any thought to What should we do to prepare for this. Should we get some kind of ministerial counsel? Should we discuss it with our parents? Or should we just go off and do it? For too many, you see, it’s just the latter, just something to be taken for granted. And we’ve taken it for granted, as Mr. Fraser brought out in that article, for so long now that many are beginning to wonder Well, what’s the point? I mean, you can still get together on Thanksgiving. You can still have all of these, you know, split-off pieces of what used to be a family and try to blend them all together for a family get-together. Marriage is, as he said, fast becoming obsolete. And as I said earlier, when you understand man’s purpose, why we were put here on this Earth, you can see why; you can see why Satan has been working to destroy these institutions of marriage and family. Satan hates them because he knows what they are preparing us for. He knows what they’re a type of. He knows our future.
1 Peter 2 here and verse 1. It says, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” Grow, see, as Christians must, grow and develop, prepare for the future. Verse 3, “If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,  You also,” it says, “as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
Over and again in Scripture you see these words: house, father, family, marriage, children, son, daughter. This is what God is. God is a Family. God is a Father. God has a Son. The Son’s about to have a wife. The Church is that wife, that’s what our Bible teaches us. God is looking forward to His Kingdom, because that’s when He can establish His Family government on this Earth. And it’s where people can finally have their minds set straight on why family, on why marriage.
Verse 6, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,  And a stone of stumbling ….” See, for some that are so excited to enter into this relationship with Jesus Christ. But for many others, they’re not excited, they’re disinterested in attending this blessed event that’s to bring so much gladness and joy into our lives.
It says, “ … whereunto also they were appointed.  But you are a chosen generation,” God says, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” See, we’ve got to be preparing for a calling as great as this. We weren’t so special before our minds were open to the truth, but now God says you know. Now, God says, prepare for this.
Mr. Armstrong said, this is going back to that 1985 article, “The very foundation of any stable civilization is a solid family structure. Today’s civilization, with its foundation disintegrating, is itself on the way out!” It’s because that foundation is crumbling. And then he says to us. Listen to this, students, listen: “Nothing in this material world is as important as a happy home life with father, mother and well-taught happy children—a close-knit family.” Nothing is as important as that! Not some career, not going to college, not making money. Nothing!
“Why?” he asks. Because “it strikes at the very heard and core of humanity’s future and eternity and the Gospel that Jesus Christ proclaimed.”
Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, which is the Family of God, administering the loving government of God. Nothing is more important than that. This is uppermost in God’s mind. Which is why this is something that we must take most seriously and thoroughly prepare for, and be glad about, and to rejoice over.
Mr. Armstrong said, “God is a Kingdom—that is, the supreme divine Family that rules the universe! The whole gospel, which Jesus Christ brought from God for mankind, is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.” He says, “And the united, closely knit together family of Christians—the Church—will, at the coming of Christ and the time of the resurrection, become the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom,” he concludes. “The Kingdom of God starts with a family relationship—first the physical human families, second, the one compacted together Church, and finally, when the Church is changed to immortality, the God Family—which is the Kingdom of God!”
Your family, your family is where God intends for you to best learn what you need to know and understand and internalize regarding the Kingdom, regarding God’s Family. In other words, God’s Kingdom starts with you and your family. So make sure you prepare for it. It’s the one career in life that matters most.