Updated: Nov 28, 2019
Religion is defined as commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor [enthusiasm or passion] and faith.
Christ defined it simply by saying, “This people draws nigh unto me with their mouth and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Another scripture adds to the definition when it refers to those who believe as, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” As we can see by definition, religion can basically be defined or perhaps summed up as doing something without true conviction or commitment to it as it is intended. Stated another way, doing something half-heartedly or in the letter, but not the spirit.
There are a number of reasons why we as people engage in acts of religion and they range from lack of understanding of what true commitment and conviction look like to having an attitude of “test driving” knowing there is always an out.
Sadly the church is all too familiar with the spirit of religion and many are awakening to the fact that they have not been serving God out of the establishment of a true relationship with him, but rather out of a devotion to a set of rules and regulations that fails to truly connect us to him. In our zeal to serve God, we actually end up adhering to his principles without ever touching his heart. BLOG_SUMMARY_END Even sadder, this spirit of religion has crept into many marriages and resides quietly until trouble strikes and the couple has nothing to draw on except divorce, pain, despair and worldly examples and wisdom.
I know there will always be those out there who truly believe that divorce should be an option or should be an option in certain situations and I will not take the time to explore that particular stance right now.
I will simply share Mark 10:2-9, “And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?” tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, “What did Moses command you?” And they said, “Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.” And Jesus answered and said unto them, “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept, but from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
The word precept means: a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought. So Jesus basically said Moses set this rule, but it is not how God started, nor intended the marriage relationship to be.
So what is this spirit of religion in marriage and why has it become so prevalent in marriages today? Many Christians get married out of a sense of doing the “right” thing; “It’s better to marry, than to burn.” I have no issue with this reason for getting married, but as sole motivators without seeking God, it a very poor reason to get married.
Sometimes people get married for superficial reasons such as security, the romanticism associated with marriage, wayward plans about how life is supposed to look. Again these are all nice reasons, but have no staying power.
You might ask why I seem to be inferring that these are weak or insufficient reasons to marry and for my answer I will point you to a few key statements from the typical marriage ceremony and vows:
“And is commended [referring to marriage] of Saint Paul to be honorable among all: and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear [respect, honor] of God.
The Bible states, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, whether you have enough to finish it?” Too often those seeking to enter marriage only look at what it takes to begin a marriage, but not what it takes to complete/keep the marriage. They are in love with the idea of getting married and in doing so enter marriage “lightly”.
The wedding is the price of marriage…but the covenant to keep the marriage is the cost. Remember, in Gods system there is no covenant without sacrifice.
The I do declaration: “I take thee to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance.”
I highlight and underline the words “for worse” because standing at the alter everyone can picture and envision “for better”, but does anyone take the time to really consider what “for worse” really means. If you are reading this and are married, what is your worse? This has to be considered and seriously contemplated because one day you may have to live with or forgive from your concept of worse. If your worse is superficial…marriage is probably not for you. At it’s core, your worse may damage the very person you are and you will have to trust God to get back because only he will be able to get you there.
When Christ committed to the cross, he set in his mind his “worse” and understood the cost was his life.
The final declaration: “Those whom God hath joined together let no one put asunder. Forasmuch as these two have consented together in holy wedlock and have witnessed the same before God and this company…”
Matthew 7:22-23 says, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Now take this scripture in the context of marriage, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not married in thy name? And in they name had children? And in thy name upheld our vows? And then will I profess unto them, your marriage never new me: depart from me you vow breakers.” Think about it for a moment, when we take our marriage vows we do so in the very presence of God.
God says that it is better to not make a vow, than to make a vow and not keep it. He did not exclude any vows, so that includes your wedding vows.
So how do you really end up worshiping at the alter of a religious marriage? The steps are the same as how you enter into a religious fellowship with God instead of a sincere relationship.
Listen to other people about marriage and base your marriage on their results.
Make a superficial, self-serving commitment to your spouse.
Only talk to your spouse when there is trouble and never hear them out…shall I go on?
Refuse to let your spouse into your heart…keep them at a distance you deem safe.
Ignore the urging of your spouse to come closer to their heart.
Deny the sacrifice your spouse makes for your marriage.
Stop pressing towards the mark…working on your marriage.
Believe that your flesh can move the spirit of your spouse.
Make a public display of your love for your spouse, that does not match your private attitude, nor exist in your heart.
Display or believe that what you have with your spouse is not special.
Don’t consult the maker…God…about what he made…marriage.
It is possible to have a religious marriage and be happy, but just like failing to gain a true relationship with Christ, there will come a point when you realize that you missed the mark and in that moment it will probably be too late to avoid the consequence.