Monday, January 08, 2007

Marriage is for Lovers

Several conversations I've been involved in, in recent weeks,
concerning the subject of Marriage, have inspired me to dig
through my files and find a Discussion Board posting I came
across awhile back... There is no need for me to add to his
comments; read what he wrote and see if you don't agree that
this is the proper way to view not only our Spouses, but also
the kind of Love relationship that God desires with each of us:

    Marriage is primarily for lovers, not friends.
    We can say this with confidence because we're designed
    to have many friends around us and throughout our lives,
    married and single, but we're only designed to have
    one lover - in marriage.

    So friendship seems like a good, safe option. Marriages
    based on friendship sound
    wonderfully safe, secure and stable, while Marriages based on
    reckless things like romance, desire, longing and passion sound
    much more dubious, uncertain and less easy to control...

    Hollywood can sell movies about wild romance because
    deep down those movies connect with a part of us that knows
    that we were made for that kind of love, the kind that
    sweeps you off your feet, takes your breath away, makes
    you risk wild beasts, high waterfalls, evil bad guys
    and even death.

    While those feelings shouldn’t be the sole basis for
    marriage, to say "marriage shouldn't be like that", and to
    reduce marriage to some "less emotional" experience, and
    to fill it with images of contented friends ambling their way
    through life together, is to ROB IT of all the wonder, mystery,
    romance and passion that God himself intended it to include...

    This approach runs the risk of reducing marriage to an
    "arrangement of convenience," a happy, stable, lovely place
    of shared experience, goals and dreams. Which it should be -
    but then two bachelors can experience that…

    Marriage is NOT a glorified friendship with a bit of mutual
    attraction and sex to give you something to do when you're bored;
    marriage is the unlikely, almost impossible coming together of two
    independent lives into one living breathing whole. It is two people
    saying, "I'm going to sacrifice myself, everything I am, everything
    I want - to you, a relative stranger - for the rest of my life - I am
    going to DIE to myself every day for the rest of my life - for this thing
    called LOVE…"

    Friendship doesn't require your life, friendship is an
    arrangement of mutual benefit - marriage is an arrangement where
    the only guarantee you get is that it's going to cost you everything.
    It is messy, painful, volatile, wonderful, risky, terrifying, demanding,
    consuming, mind blowing, soul crunching, earth shattering and absolutely
    will not be boxed in to the neat confines of friendship. It is the cosmic
    collision that occurs when you take two imperfect people and try to make
    a perfect union.

    And thank God! "For God so loved the world – that he did the most unthinkable,
    inconceivable, anti-logical, self sacrificing, death-defying feat possible –
    He sent his only Son to die – that we might not perish, but have
    eternal life."

    Wow… thank God that GOD doesn’t see His relationship with us as a solid
    friendship based on shared mutual goals!

    Jesus didn't come to earth and die for us because he LIKED us, or because
    we were best mates and he wanted someone to talk to about his shared interests
    in heaven. He died for LOVE, not Friendship.

    God himself describes his relationship with his people in terms of
    lovers, a bride and groom, more often than he describes us as his friends.
    God believes in true romance, and his relationship with believers is
    the greatest romance ever told, not the greatest friendship.

    So we are called to be our spouse’s Lover… Focus on being a good lover,
    and the friendship will take care of itself. BUT! Being good lovers
    doesn't happen instinctively, naturally, like friendship; it takes a
    great deal of work, and sacrifice, and humility, and forgiveness, and
    wisdom… My wife and I were best friends, and then had to work hard to
    become lovers. Now we're best friends again, but only because we became
    lovers first.

I couldn't agree more.


Matt Barker said...

Hi Greg,

Good read! When performing a wedding, a pastor friend of mine likes to say to each party, of the other: "I think we can reasonably say that God will do more of his work in your life through this one person than through any other." I've always liked that, and it reminds me to be conscious of that in all my interactions with my wife.

Greg said...

Hi Matt!

Thanks for posting your comment.

I, too, very much believe that there is perhaps no greater "saint-making machine" (to use an expression from Peter Kreeft) than the God-ordained institution of Marriage... "Sanctification through Suffering" is clearly a part of the Transformation that God has in mind for each of us (Romans 12:2), and the extent to which we embrace the passion and pain of Marriage, we accelerate that Transformation process...

One of Philip Yancey's books introduced me to the idea that God, being a PERSON, has all of the same passions and feelings and emotions that we do (we were made in His image, after all)... Combine that with the idea that He desires a LOVE relationship with us, and you begin to get a deeper sense of the idea that "Friendship" and "Marriage" really ARE sharply different...

Post again any time! I read the Barker Blog regularly...