For better, for worse

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Recently, I have seen an influx of couples seeking counseling and asking one question: are we prepared for marriage. As a counselor I get elated when premarital couples come in with this question on their hearts. Partly because they still kind of like each other, which makes therapy more fun, and partly because I am reassured that people have not given up on marriage completely.

The attack on marriage isn’t a new issue facing our society, neither is the ammunition thrown at the institution. While there is nothing new under the sun, what has been interesting to find is the rising number of people who fear marriage itself. More people are finding it easier to commit to a relationship that does not include walking down the isle or saying “I do.” The joy of marital bliss has been replaced with an ominous doom similar to the orc infested gates of Mordor. And, quite frankly, who really wants to enter those gates?

All of this makes me wonder, how did this happen?

As a Christian, there are times when it is tempting to blame the breakdown of marriages on sin. While this statement is true, it is also deceivingly simple. Blaming sin often generalizes the problem and makes it easier to take the responsibility off of self. For instance, sin helps us blame our spouse rather than own up to our own transgressions. Or, even better, sin gives us permission to blame the entertainment industry or political groups who advocate legislation against our personal values. We are forever pointing the proverbial finger at someone else. Unfortunately, in the process, we reinforce the trend of disillusionment towards marriage.

Instead of trying to change the world’s view of marriage what if we worked on changing and repairing our own? What if we showed the world that marriage could be wonderful, not because it was easy but because we actually tried? Gary Thomas has a great book titled Sacred Marriage. The subtitle for this script reads, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Even if we realize Cinderella is not real and sex is not a commodity, we still might get caught up in the notion of having a perfect marriage, one that is never mundane or takes little effort. While a perfect marriage sounds wonderful, honesty is actually more freeing.

At least honesty admits to the world that we don’t have it all together, but we are trying. And, honesty tells the world that marriage isn’t easy, but it’s also not those scary gates of Mordor either. Instead, marriage is more like a great run. Sometimes you feel like throwing up, other times you think, “I could run forever.” And, when you reach the finish line, whether you gracefully floated by or stumbled over it with heaving breath, you know you did it. You made it to the end. Not because it was easy, but because you were determined to finish what you started. I wonder, what the world would say if they saw believers in Christ be examples of “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, til death do us part.” Might they fear marriage less? Might they see Christ’s love for his church more? Might they understand Christ’s unconditional love a little bit better?

I’m wondering, what do you think?

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