Day’s Verse:
They have said, “The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”
Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
When will you understand, stupid ones?
He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?

Psalm 94:7-9

You know I usually don’t post pictures of people because I rarely take pictures of people. But these two girls, who painted herb pots at the Commonside booth at the Mitcham Fair on Saturday, were each so cute, and the pictures turned out so well, I couldn’t resist. So here they both are.

I’ve been thinking about marriage. At Commonside I’m the only married one there, although they all have “boyfriends” or male “partners” or “other halves.” In the car with one of my sponsors the other day we began talking about marriage, and she told me that unless your religion demanded it (as mine did), she found marriage pointless. To her way of thinking, marriage did not offer any significant benefits over simply living with your lover. What’s the point in going through all that if you don’t get anything more than cohabitation? The law here apparently offers little incentive to join in matrimony, and the peresonal freedom of leave-ability takes precidence over commitment. This mindset pervades people here; Ian and I look like throwbacks to another age when people married their high-school sweethearts, women wore red-and-white checked Betty Crocker dresses, every family had a son and a daughter and one car, and the happy family gathered together around the radio at night to listen to the news and to radio plays.

The sponsor doesn’t put much stock in marriage lives with her boyfriend (partner? Boyfriend sounds odd in reference to an adult couple; that’s for my kid sister and her 17-year-old high-school guy). I didn’t know how to explain the value of marriage to her. All my glib words failed me when I tried to expess the depth of value marriage holds for me. How to express the value of constancy? How to explain the rightness of sleeping in the arms of somebody you know you’ll wake up with fifty years hence? How to explain that marriage becomes engrained, it becomes part of who you are so your spouse and yourself truly grow closer to being one person? As a Christian marriage also represents Christ’s relationship with the Church; so my and Ian’s interaction would show non-believers what the love of God for His people looks like. Our marriage is a God-designed, God-ordained relationship set in place thousands of years ago, and in our marriage we seek to honor that. In our respect for each other, in our deep and deepening love for each other, in the way we speak to each other and behave towards each other, in many other ways Ian and I seek to praise God through our relationship. Yes, we love each other, but God’s presence imbues our relationship with meaningfulness and depth that it would otherwise lack entirely. Marriage is God’s blessing for a couple, the opportunity to understand some small part of His vastly infinite, loving plan for all mankind. Marriage is about commitment, about love for each other and for God, about knowing somebody deeply, about fun and struggle and playfulness and sadness and experiencing life with your spouse beside you always. So you see my heart for the institution of marriage springs from my faith. Please help me: what is the value of marriage outside of religion?

9 thoughts on “Marriage Thoughts

  1. You seem to be feeling better… I’m glad. As you eloquently express, the covenantal relationship experienced in Christian marriage dimly reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church. Both are based on the faithfulness of God, not the strength and will of us people. Apart from a relationship with God, marriage may seem bizarre – limiting one’s freedom, forcing a person to stay in a relationship even if “someone better” comes along, etc. Nevertheless, IF there is a Creator and IF that Creator has designed us to thrive within specified behavioral boundaries and IF He has revealed those boundaries to us…

  2. (continued) … then we will be at our most fulfilled when we choose to operate within those boundaries. If a man and a woman truly “become one” emotionally in an intimate relationship, then the hurt inflicted when they break up will occur whether a person “believes” in the institution of marriage or not. This result does not depend on a state-sanctioned ceremony; it is simply an inevitable consequence. Marriage, as such, is not the only behavior to which this reasoning applies. Consequences of living outside God-ordained boundaries apply whether the behavior is gossiping, lying, greed, envy, etc. God is not simply concerned with sexual behaviors…

  3. (continued) … Enough from me. Psalm 16:5&6 states, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me inpleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Enjoy the life God has set out before you, Katie. No matter what the “normal” behavior of those around us may become, contentment and fulfillment will be yours through staying within the boundaries He has laid out for you.

  4. As a person who’s struggled off and on with her faith, and is continuing to travel through a time of questioning and confusion, I will offer up my take on marriage from a non-religious perspective (though I do see the religious side as well. I’ll just leave that as already said.)

    Marriage, to me, is the ultimate symbol of love between two people. Granted, not everyone who loves one another and stays together forever gets married, and that’s fine as well. Some people don’t feel that they need the piece of paper to symbolize that they are committed and devoted to one another, and others do. I don’t think it’s necessarily about being able to leave one another in some cases, it’s just that people feel they don’t need to be legally bound to show that they can be ‘married’ in their hearts.

    I hope to get married someday because I will be able to spend my life with the one person that I love more deeply than any other. I want to be able to call him my husband, and to have the comfort in knowing that we have both taken vows in front of many witnesses to testify that we will love and cherish each other always. I’m a pretty old fashioned girl in that respect I guess. I look forward to a wedding, but even moreso to the life following it. I think too many people get caught up in the ceremony and neglect to remember that marriage doesn’t equal wedding. That’s part of it, but it’s only the celebration of the beginning of what the true celebration is.

  5. I am not religious, but I want to get married. A lot of the reasons are what Lesley said. I want to have that ring on my finger so people know that I found the one for me. To me, if I love someone for a long time, the next step should be marriage. I am old-fashioned in that sense, and I want to have a pretty traditional life.

    As for the other side, my sister is almost 28, and she’s been dating her boyfriend for a long time now. She says she might get married one day, but it’s not a priority and she doesn’t think it’s really necessary or anything. She and her boyfriend love each other, and don’t think marriage is necessary to show that. And she also has the feeling that it’s not right for her to get married when there are lots of people out there who can’t get married when they want to (she feels it’d be hypocritical). Really, the only reason she might get married is for the benefits it provides (tax purposes, etc.). But she’s okay in doing it for that fact, and I understand it, even if I don’t feel the same way.

  6. hehe… I knew a young woman, about 35 years old, who always refered to the man she lived with as her “partner.” I knew her for about a year and a half before I discovered that she was actually married to him! It seems that she believed in marriage but had her own reasons for not using the word husband.

  7. I will give you a non-religious reason for marriage: It provides a stable environment in which to raise children. Raising a family requires a committment of at least 18 years and 9 months, and while this isn’t exactly a lifetime, it is a significant portion. People may talk about “the personal freedom of leavability,” but any attempt to exercise that freedom when children are involved necessarily causes pain. If a parent is truely committed to providing for the welfare of his/her children, it also requires making a committment to his/her partner.

  8. Another non-religious voice weighing in here: your Dad is right on. A stable environment is very important for children, IMO, and a marriage is more stable than mere “commitment” if for no other reason than it takes more work to break it up. I think marriage can be an impetus to work harder to stay together.

    I would not say my relationship lacks depth for being un-religious. We know each other in very great depth — I think the security/stability of marriage helps make that possible. You can let your guard down, and be who you really are, without worrying that the other person is going to just break up with you if he ever finds out what a slob you really are (or whatever). I used to liken it to having a lab partner, or a travelling companion — you have to work/travel together. You’re in it together. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world alone.

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