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Monday, June 25, 2012

Marriage -- A Retrospect

Ah, marriage! What a divine institution! No, really, a divine institution. God made it up. So, how far are we today from what God ordained at the outset? You see, if "the creation was subjected to futility" (Rom 8:20), it would stand to reason that entropy would be present in all things, including marriage. I would like to suggest that we -- you and I and most of those around us -- have succumbed to a view of marriage that God never intended.

Where are we today? Well, marriage is primarily about "love". I put that in quotes because our concept of love is another victim of entropy. That claim doesn't take a lot of work to demonstrate. Just read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and see how close we are today with our concept of "love". So love has declined from that grand biblical version to today's selfish version where "I love you" means "I love what you can give me" in many cases and almost never "I can provide for you". We're vaguely aware that "love" is more about "What can I do for you to give you the very best?", but more concerned about that warm feeling or, more importantly, that intense ardor. What we feel defines love best. Having moved, then, to "what I feel" as the primary definition of "marriage", we end up a long way from what God intended.

Genesis 1 and 2 give us God's version of marriage. You know this stuff. You know, "A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Matt 19:5). Oh, wait, that's Jesus's words. No, I meant to reference Eph 5:31. No, no! That's Paul. Well, apparently the New Testament maintains that the Old Testament version (Gen 2:24) is still in effect. What do we have, then? Well, "man" and "wife". "Leave" and "cleave". "The two shall become one flesh" -- union.

But we have more. God gives His reasoning in this union. "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Gen 2:18). God made woman as a "helper fit for him". The word, in fact, is "counterpart", "the other side", the "mate". You see, God designed marriage as a mating of two counterparts -- male and female. This is necessary because of the two purposes God designed: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion ..." (Gen 1:28). The mutual purpose, then, is reproduction and dominion, accomplished by a companionship of two mated counterparts.

How far are we from that today? We hear "love" and think of it selfishly (a contradiction in terms). We seek self-satisfaction when God called on us to reproduce. Indeed, suggesting today that married couples ought to (have a moral obligation to) reproduce -- bear offspring, and raise them in the wisdom and admonition of the Lord -- is viewed by many Christians as offensive today. No, no, marriage even among Christians is about self-fulfillment and personal satisfaction. Sex is a big part of marriage to us, but not in the way God intended. We seek eroticism and God intended union. We hear "love" and understand it to mean "lust". C.S. Lewis spoke of the kid in the slums who refuses to go on a holiday at the beach because he can't imagine anything better than sitting in the gutter playing with the mud. We are satisfied with so little when God intended so much.

God had such grandiose plans for you and your marriage. Paul calls it a profound mystery (Eph 5:32). There is a mystical, spiritual union that occurs coupled to the physical union. There is the joy of teaming up with your counterpart and working together toward God's goals and God's glory. And we settle for a good roll in the hay and a warm feeling inside. Oh, come away with me! Come to the grand version that is marriage, the wonderful union of man and woman in self-sacrifice that fulfills and admitted shortcomings that produce greater capabilities! Become the grand picture of Christ and His Bride, a union that reproduces itself! Marriage is so much bigger than our culture, in its quest for "marriage equity" is willing to offer. Don't settle. Get the best!

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