I already knew the topic I wanted to write about, but as I pulled out my laptop to write at 7am here in Caramoan in Camarines Sur, God gave me some sentences to start with:
a. God instituted marriage.
b. God designed it like the Christian walk.
c. It’s not a one time event.
d. It’s the start of a journey.
During weddings, we congratulate the couple. I personally think though that although it’s ok to congratulate them, it’s more important to to wish them well. Why? Because marriage is not an end but the beginning of a journey. It’s not a finish line but a starting line. When the Philippine team journeyed to conquer mount Everest, people didn’t congratulate them – they wished them well. Congratulations were made after they’ve conquered Mount Everest and a huge celebration followed.
While I agree that congratulating them for finally making and jumping into the decision that “This is the one that I want to be with for the rest of my life!”, let’s be honest and ask ourselves, “How difficult can that one be?” One only needs to be decisive. The right question should be, “Are we certain that they’ve made the right decision that’s why we are congratulating them?” Let me answer that by getting to the points God told me.
God instituted marriage. It is originally designed for two people who love each other so much that they commit to be married – a ceremony designed by God to bind two souls together as one for life. So if this sounds like you, then my answer is a big YES! It is right. In Ephesians (a book in the bible), It commanded the husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church”. And how much is that? We can’t exactly measure but it was definitely enough for Him to die for it!
A lot of people say that when married couples fail, it was the “wrong marriage” or that they have irreconcilable differences. I don’t think so. Aside from marriages at gun point or where one had the wrong motives (which for me isn’t how God designed marriage), I think marriages start off at the same point. It is what you do and how you think after that changes it.
God designed Marriage to be like the Christian walk. Christians are not spared from trials and problems. As a Christian, my spiritual fire is not always at 100%. Do I give up? No! I read the bible more, talk to pastors (or priests) for counseling, I hang out with people who believe in the same faith and who I trust will give me sound advice.
It’s the same way with marriage. It won’t always be happy. There are times when you’d encounter problems like bill payment deadlines and problems with thekids, and there will be moments when the problem is amongst yourselves — character differences, bad moods, PMS etc. Do you give up? No! You get to know each other more, seek counseling and attend marriage enrichment seminars. Having shot over a thousand weddings as a photographer and also having solemnized dozens as a pastor, I can conclude that majority of couples seek God’s blessing for marriage on the wedding day but do not seek Him after. It’s like putting up a business, praying to God to bless it, leaving for another country, coming back after 10 years and expecting to be a millionaire. Hello?!?! Marriage takes work!
Marriage is not a one time event. For many, a wedding is about flaunting. Showing your achievements with stylish venue set-ups, serving the best food, an AVP showing off pictures of places where you’ve been to as a couple and hiring the best suppliers. Nothing wrong with that. I used to be one of the most expensive photographers during my time, but when you invest solely on the wedding itself, it will be a disaster.
I believe that as much as you plan your wedding carefully, we are to plan our marriage with much more detail. As husband & wife and as a family, Monique and I make sure we attend one or two spiritually enhancing events per year. What’s the connection with marriage? A lot! Please listen carefully: When our spirit is in its right place, we think right and when we think right, we act right. On the other hand, so many people focus immediately on action, the “to do”, not knowing that you can’t change action without the heart. Change is temporary. No wonder people who say “I will not do it again” end up doing it over and over and often even end up much worse than before.
Aside from that, Monique and I travel as a couple and we travel as a family too. These cost money but they are great investments. It doesn’t have to be far or out of the country but the point is to set aside time for each other. We are creating a culture.
Lastly, Marriage is but the start of the journey. Yes, since you were born you’ve been on a journey. But this time, God gave you someone to journey with. So I wonder, why do others live like they’re planning their lives individually? They attend bible studies alone, travel alone, watch movies alone, take on new hobbies alone. While I believe men need their alone time or cave time, there is something wrong when you find yourself the same as before. It defeats the purpose of why you got married in the first place. After you get married, life is a journey that 2 people take on together.
I mentioned earlier about the story of the Philippine Everest Team and their successful climb and how a huge celebration followed. If you think your wedding reception was the celebration, guess again. There is a much more bigger celebration happening in heaven for those who faithfully cross the finish line and my prayer is that all of us will be there celebrating together.
Read more of John and Monique Ong’s Before I Do articles at weddingsatwork.com/category/waw-before-i-do/.
- About John & Monique Ong:
John is a pastor at Revelation City Church, Scuba Diving instructor and owns Imagine Nation photo + Video. He is a graduate of business management at DLSU and took up Masteral in Marketing in the same school and is currently in the Pastoral counseling course at Asian Theological Seminary. Monique is a creative wife / help mate to John, a wedding hosts and heads Post Ad ventures (an Events Management company), a youth pastor in Revelation and writes in their blog called “an ounce of faith”. She took Tourism in UP Diliman.