It’s not up to you [4]

Some smart-aleck reading this blog said to me, in words to this effect, “cent, I am sure your advice makes plenty of sense to actual Christians with conservative values and theological leanings, but to others it is boring and doesn’t have any appeal. No wonder your hits are down.”

I find that point of view interesting because it seems to think that there’s another equally-valid point of view which is yielding as-many or more successful marriages, and that people can look any ol’ place to find advice that not only is good for them, but it tastes good, too.

There are several things that come to my mind as I mull that over, and the first one is this: the idea that marriages founded on, and nurtured under, the view which I have proposed here fail at about the same rate as all other kinds of marriage is complete twaddle.

Listen: I have fallen for that line, and I’m a stats junkie. Turns out that the truth is that people with a Christian view of things have Christian marriages – and you can read more about that right here, particularly the answer to Question #13.

If you’re just blowing past this blog, or you think it’s either quaint or invasive to talk about what makes marriages work, I feel sorry for you. Why? Because it’s not up to you to decide what does and does not make marriages work. You didn’t invent marriage, and it doesn’t exist for your pleasure. It exists specifically for the sake of knowing God better and giving Him Glory – just like everything else does.

Here’s what I think about people who find the tactic of placing this discussion inside the bounds of theology offensive in some way: God isn’t real to you, friend. If you think marriage is just a social convention which we can toss out or revise when we think it needs an update – as if it was word processing software, or a car we are leasing – don’t pretend that you believe in a God who is Creator and Sustainer: you believe in a God who is beta-testing the universe, and is uploading patches thanks to the feedback of the fairly-large beta community which is using his product.

Don’t treat what God has joined together as if it was a terrible accident: it is not an accident but a purpose in this world.

There’s something else that comes to mind in considering this, so bear with me as I spell it out. It’s the idea that the world thinks anything at all of marriage. You know: using the logic I have proposed to defend the occational, responsible use of alcohol, someone might come back and say, “cent: about 75-80% of all marriages don’t fail. What you’re saying, in effect, is that there’s a solution in search of a problem. Most people who get married stay married – by more than a 2:1 ratio. You’re trying to cause drama where there is no drama, and you're drumming up tragedy for the sake of preying on hysteria.”

That seems like a pretty good point, I’ll admit. The problem is that it is trying to make the marriage issue only about people who stand up and take the vow. The marriage question, for example, is applicable to people who are not married but think they have a right to have sex. The marriage question applies to people who choose abortion over celibacy. The marriage question applies to what kinds of unions should and should not be fostered by the law and government. So while the divorce rate may only represent 20% of all people, all the peripheral issues around this matter touch on almost every single adult who can read this.

You know: for example, why do you want to have sex with someone who, honestly, doesn’t care what happens to the rest of your life? This isn’t a cheap song by Meatloaf I’m talking about here: this is your life, your body, your spiritual and emotional wellbeing I’m talking about. If you think you want to have sex with someone, ask them, “listen: I was thinking about what you look like naked and what a great thing it would be to be your 7-course meal, and then I realized that I have no idea if you are willing to love me in a sacrificial way which would bring both of us closer to God. Does my spiritual well-being matter to you? If so, how can I know that?”

If they think you are joking, you have your answer. Your spiritual wellbeing ought to matter more to a person you think you’re hot for than as a punchline for a joke.

The world doesn’t think anything at all about marriage – because the world thinks you ought to be “happy” (whatever that means), and “satisfied” (whatever that means), and “free” (but not cheap, of course, and not easy – well, maybe easy). Everything the world stands for is diametrically opposed to marriage. And while it is not up to you to decide what marriage stands for, it is up to you to decide if you’re going to stand with God in marriage, or with the world – in spite of your spouse’s unloveliness, and in spite of your own.

So you choose. And if you need some help thinking about it, you know where to find me.

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