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Remember to always put God first in your marriage.
I can't tell you how pleased I am that you've found a wife. May 10, the day you married Maya Bakke, was one of the best days of my life. Your bride was absolutely stunning, and you never looked more handsome or more happy. I enjoyed getting together with so many family members and friends on such a wonderful occasion.
Now the work begins. Marriage is under attack as never before. When my parents married a little more than a half-century ago, divorce was relatively uncommon. Today it's becoming commonplace even among Christians. In the last few years, a number of high-profile Christian leaders have divorced and remarried as if there is nothing wrong with it.
Not only that, but many couples are deciding to live together without getting married. At the same time, some radical gay-rights advocates are trying to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions.
Both you and Maya were raised in Christian homes. Both your parents and hers are still married to each other and love each other. So you have more going for you than many newlywed couples do. But that is no guarantee your marriage will survive or flourish.
I don't remember if my dad gave me any advice when your mother and I got married, 30 years ago next month. He probably did, and I just don't remember it. Being the idealist that I am, I'm sure I imagined we'd be as happy forever as we were on our wedding day.
I can honestly say I love your mom 100 times more now than I did 30 years ago. Most people would consider ours an ideal marriage--and by God's grace, it is a priority today.
Yet we have had our challenges. There are things I would do differently if I could do them over. Maybe that is why I decided to give you this advice:
* Remember to always put God first. In your wedding vows, you and Maya stated your love for the Lord and for each other. You said you would keep Him first in your lives and honor your commitment to each other. Keep the videotape of the ceremony and watch it occasionally to remind yourselves of those vows.
* Keep your word to each other. Don't ever allow your emotions to stray or your actions to bring about a breach of trust.
There is an emotional aspect to the feeling of love. It will ebb and flow. But trust must be rock solid. Once broken, it is hard to rebuild. Like a credit rating that's ruined, it can be restored--but how much better never to ruin it in the first place!
* Make a decision never to let divorce be an option. A well-known Christian leader once joked that he and his wife had gotten angry enough at each other to consider murder--but never divorce!
Except in cases of infidelity, divorce is not sanctioned by the Scriptures. Don't ever meet the qualifications for this exception, and don't ever give each other the option of getting out of the marriage.
Cameron, you and Maya are off to a good start. At an early age, God has given you a vision to reach your generation in a culturally relevant way. Already you influence tens of thousands of people through the books you publish and through your Web site, www.relevant mediagroup.com.
As your dad, I'm very pleased with the way you are showing signs of leadership in the Christian community and blazing your own trail, apart from but complementary to what God has called me and your mother to do. A lot of people will be rooting for you to succeed. As Christians, we're a community, and we'll be supporting you. That's one reason I decided to write this very public letter.
But you will also serve as a role model for thousands of others who haven't had all the advantages you've had, but who, like you, have a plan and purpose from God that Satan would like to steal through the ravages of divorce. And I pray that years from now, if Jesus tarries, you can write a letter like this to your own son or daughter as you pass along to him or her the heritage of a stable marriage and a mature walk with God.
Stephen Strang is founder and publisher of Charisma. He invites readers to attend our Preparing for the Harvest conference Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Orlando.
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