The Broken Union

I nearly started this post off with some comment about my young age and then using that as a springboard for my obviously being too young to be married or close to that great endeavor. Then, I realized that I’m Christian and several of my friends recently got or have been married for a year or two by now. That implication that Christians get married young was not intended derogatorily, I just find that more of my Christian friends get married before my non-Christian friends, that’s all.

Now that I’ve gotten that monkey off my back, I have to admit that I have been avoiding this post for at least a month now. I am nowhere near qualified to give my opinion on marriage, but I feel it now unavoidable. While I cannot draw upon personal experience with marriage, I think I have seen enough marriages good and bad and have the resources to weigh in on the topic as an onlooker.

On June 23, New York removed their ban on homosexual marriage. Several people protested this result and honestly, I wasn’t thrilled myself. While I can’t say I’m the biggest proponent of this outcome, I cannot say that I believe it to be a real detriment to the institution of marriage as it stands today. Yes, I just said that I don’t think it actually takes away from the institution of marriage in its present context.

This statement may take you aback, but so should our definition of marriage today. I would like to speak better of it, but from what I see, our definition is an abomination of what should be. Look at the divorce rate. Look at the number of broken homes and the dysfunctional marriages staying together “for the kids”. I want so badly to speak better of it, but the definition of marriage has already been made a mockery by the heterosexuals. Even from a markedly conservative point of view, I can’t imagine the homosexuals making things any worse. I think this a terrible shame.

We were given passages like Ephesians 5:22-33 for this reason. God in His infinite wisdom knew that we were going to continue to screw up this aspect of life as we had from the beginning and so He had Paul write what he did. However, even when these verses have been remembered, it seems they have been taken badly out of context.

Men, we have a mighty charge in this passage. As husbands, we are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Yes, men are to be head of the wives, but that implies a great responsibility to provide and take care of the wife, not some machismo dictatorship. The example here is Jesus going to the lengths of dying on a cross for His bride. We are called to love our wives as ourselves. While we are the head of the wife, we are one with her and must treat her as an extension of our own being. Guess what, as head we are the one God looks at when we allow things to go wrong in the relationship. Doesn’t sound as entitled, huh?

Ladies, yes we all recall the directive to submit to your husband. However, this says nothing about giving up your essential rights as a human being. No, you are not meant to be your husband’s puppet. I know plenty of marriages where the woman makes a lot of the decisions and “wears the pants”. There is nothing wrong with this, because I believe the intended meaning of submission is acting in a manner that is of accord with the husband or at least in his and your best interests. I believe this submission is informed by what submission to God looks like. God is not some cruel mind-controller. We submit to God by doing what we believe agrees with who He is and what is best for Him (as far as we can tell). Submission does not mean tapping out on life.

Marriage should be characterized in much the same way as the love from which it is borne (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). Not only is marriage love, but most importantly it is the deepest human relationship that we engage in on this earth. I think this aspect is missing most often, because while love is important, it cannot sustain a marriage alone. These roles and responsibilities for husbands and wives scream out this fact. Marriage is a relationship mirroring the way Jesus loves the church. I do not know of a love that is deeper and more pure than that of God. If this is clearly what is to be the model, then a relationship must be at the heart of marriage with a full reliance upon God. Men, if you want to see a better example of this, then just open up the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Women, look at Acts 2 and you will see submission unashamedly in plain sight.

I have given marriage a bad rap, and I realize that I am making here a broad generalization. I know of many marriages that are healthy and more or less as originally intended, but I also know of too many for my liking that are either defunct or have ended in divorce. I do not mean solely to criticize marriage, but instead I want us to take a deeper look at how we view marriage and repair that broken view. God knows, our world desperately needs it. Our families and future generations certainly do.