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Monday, January 11, 2021

And I Meant Every Word ...

The song “Love Will Keep Us Together” had a remarkable radio run. The hit song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June of 1975. It held that position for four weeks. It ranked as the number one single of the year by Billboard Magazine. The tune, written by Neil Sedaka, was led to fame as recorded by The Captain and Tennille.

The Captain had a real name—Daryl Dragon—a keyboardist for The Beach Boys. His nickname came from his oft wearing of a sea captain’s hat in performances. He met the attractive Toni Tennille in 1971 in between tours when he joined Toni’s musical group playing keyboards. Eventually they would marry.

However, in January of 2014—seven years ago this Saturday, Toni Tennille filed for divorce. The couple had been married 39 years. The divorce surprised Dragon. Tennille’s reasons included Daryl’s health related issues. But in her 2016 personal memoir, Toni shared a rather unflattering view of the couple’s years together.

It was said that the two “remained close friends” until Daryl Dragon died from kidney failure in January of 2019. Toni was at his side at the time of the passing.

The song “Love Will Keep Us Together” has a special place in my memory. It was, in fact, the year my radio life began. But even more significantly, it was the year I met my beloved Rhonda. That relationship would bring us to marriage in January of 1977. This Friday is our 44th anniversary.

Yes, “love” has kept us together. However, true love requires something more than a lasting feeling. It takes commitment. And in the Christian faith, we refer to this as the marriage covenant.

That covenant as recited in weddings may have variations, but the essence of it as vowed by each participant says to the effect: 

"I, Mark, take you, Rhonda, to be my wedded wife, and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful husband, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live.”

Marriages commonly fall apart in our day. But we must appreciate from where the institution comes. A Christian marriage ceremony should clearly state that marriage is ordained and instituted by God. As a wise ministry friend has said, “Marriage did not just spring up arbitrarily out of social conventions or human taboos. Marriage was not invented by men but by God.”

God is good at making covenants. In fact, the common words we use for the two main divisions of the Bible are the old and new testaments. More precisely, those “testaments” refer to covenants—the unbreakable commitments by God.

It says much about human character when people stand before God and witnesses and make those covenantal promises—only to break them for the most convenient of reasons. The Bible does make allowances for divorce, but they are most often not the reasons people separate. Divorce pain in families reaches generations.

I assure you I am no “saint” as the world defines the term. One thing I recognize: “Love,” as it’s shared by poets, movies, musicians, and the like, doesn’t “keep us together” as much the hit song suggests. A committed love, however, is the game changer.

As Jesus explained, “It (the Scripture) says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.” Matthew 19:5-6 (NLV)

Serious words. From a God who takes marriage seriously.

While “renewing your marriage vows” is quite often done by couples, I see no need. I meant what I said the first time.

Happy Anniversary…to the love of my life.

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