category: President's Blog

August 2022: Love and Marriage

August 2022

August brings with it the start of a new academic year and a wonderful sense of renewal at our University.  Indulge me for a moment, however, as August also has an additional special meaning in the Downs household.  On August 5, Kim and I celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary.  This year, we also celebrate that our two children, Rachel and Bradley, have each found their own special someone and gotten engaged over the summer.  That means detailed plans are well underway for two weddings in 2023…pray for us!

August 5, 1989 was the day I married my best friend.  I had known Kim since elementary school, and we were married at the same church in Raleigh where we had grown up.  Later, our daughter would be baptized in that very same church (our son was baptized in Atlanta).  Kim and I are humbled by the blessings that now have us in our fourth decade of holy matrimony.

Love and marriage remind of us of the abundant joy and happiness we can find in this world.  Unfortunately our society, especially in the dark recesses of social media, too often conditions us to steer clear of joy and happiness.  In a recent podcast interview with GWU alumnus Clayton King, the founder of Crossroads Ministry shared with me his belief that popular social media platforms intentionally design “algorithms of anger” to entice us into cycles of animosity with one another.  A five-minute perusal of Twitter suggests that Clayton may indeed be onto something.

The professional peddlers of negativity need not rule the day, however.  Did you know that the words “joy,” “rejoice,” and “joyful” appear at least 430 times in the Bible?  Did you know that in the United States alone, each year more than 2.3 million couples get married?  That’s about 6,200 weddings each day, or 12,400 people each day of the year who commit to love and cherish each other for life.  Did you know that worldwide, each day, there are 385,000 new births?  385,000 each day!  In the United States, we’re averaging about 10,267 new lives coming into this world each and every day. Closer to home, here in North Carolina: 327 new lives each day, 14 new lives each hour, 65,800 already in 2022. New life means joy, it brings potential, it brings awe, and it brings amazement.  God is good.

Here at Gardner-Webb, we all know alumni who first met their future spouse on our campus.  I’ve heard many stories of the Rose Garden across from Dover Library being the preferred site for “popping the question.”  I’d love to know how many married couples began their life journeys together as GWU students…we’ll work on compiling that data.  If you want to share your story, we warmly invite you to do so via our alumni update webpage.  We’ll see what we come up with and will plan to share it with you next February around Valentine’s Day. 

Now, back to August in the Downs household… One of the kind gifts we received at our wedding all those years ago was a plaque entitled “Marriage Takes Three.”  Penned originally by Beth Stuckwisch in 1984, the message is worth reproducing here:

Marriage takes three to be complete;
It’s not enough for two to meet.
They must be united in love
By love’s Creator, God above.

Then their love will be firm and strong;
Able to last when things go wrong.
Because they’ve felt God’s love and know
He’s always there. He’ll never go.

And they have both loved Him in kind
With all the heart and soul and mind;
And in that love they’ve found the way
To love each other every day.

A marriage that follows God’s plan
Takes more than a woman and a man.
It needs a oneness that can be
Only from Christ—marriage takes three.

Kim and I have hung that plaque on a wall in every one of the places we’ve called home since 1989.  It currently has a prominent spot in our Boiling Springs house.  The message is strong and enduring.  It is a message that we hope our children take to heart as they each prepare for their own weddings next year.  It is a message that I also hope brings some joy and some reflection to you as we all gather back on a campus that has included love as one of its cherished values for 117 years.

Welcome to August, Gardner-Webb.  May it be the start of a joyful academic year!

Dr. William M. Downs

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