Vines cling and climb and strangle the life out of trees all over Chester County Pennsylvania. Even mighty trees suffer in the mass of these tangling and tugging, monstrous weeds. The killers came from another land but love our soil. “Free the trees!” our friend cries, raising her fists in the air and vowing to free one tree a day in her war on “the vine.” Armed with steel blades and even steelier resolve, she does her part. We join her. “Cut high and cut low,” she says, “or they’ll grow back together.” And so we do; motivated by the hope of returning beauty and life and limbs.

My wife and I have been pastoring for twenty-three years and fighting vines of another kind. Illusory and deadly spores have been unleashed in the soils of marriages by a culture that no longer acknowledges the connection between the Originator of marriage and the institution. What was to be familiar is now foreign and the foreign, familiar; distorting and destroying the image of God in “one man united to one woman, and becoming one flesh.” Anyone who is or has been married knows the miracle necessary to make two into one. It is a lifetime commitment that takes lifelong work and therefore, life is at stake. The life of the husband, the life of the wife, and the children; the life of in-laws and friends and neighbors. All are touched, wounded, when the life of a marriage ends. Business, materialism, social media, affairs, pornography, distortions of sex, and relationships cling and climb and strangle the life out of marriages until the glory of it all is completely unrecognizable.

We, with Rick, raise our fists in the air and vow to cut high and cut low and set free one marriage at a time. Armed by God’s Spirit and His Word, we do our part; God does His. God made man and said, “It is good” and then He gave woman to man and said, “It is very good.” “Therefore, what God has joined, let no one put asunder.” For when we marry, we are a picture of the triune God, His life, His love, His beauty and power, to the world. I hope this book will encourage you to join the battle.

*Phil and Jill Carnuccio
Lead Pastors of Providence Church
West Chester, Pennsylvania