Love AND Marriage?
Marriage in America: A Report to the Nation recently described marriage as an “institution in decay”. Due to shifts in values and lifestyles, they claim that our country transformed from one of the most marrying nations in the world to a society that questions the validity and value of marriage.
Ironically, though, the things that give marriage a bad rap seem to also be things that marriage does not stand for. For instance, when infidelity leads to divorce, the deep stab of betrayal can ignite feelings of resentment towards marriage. But under what context is infidelity acceptable in–or even associated with–the covenant of marriage?
In fact, marriage upholds the exact opposite principles as those of infidelity. Why, then, does marriage take the hit for its abusers?
One who abuses his or her rights and responsibilities as a parent doesn’t jeopardize the reputation of parenthood. Those who mistreat their children are simply viewed as unfit to be a mother or father. Why? Because they are not living up to the standard by which they are called to live as a parent. Parenthood itself remains untouched, untarnished.
Yet, the same is not true for those who mishandle marriage. When an individual steps outside the responsibility of their vows (or is victimized by someone who does), somehow marriage quickly becomes the bad guy. But why? Doesn’t the same principle as parenthood remain true? That the reason crises occur is because one or both parties failed to live up to the standard? How does marriage become stigmatized when it is the one being disrespected? Are we that skeptical of unconditional love that we think the sacred vows of matrimony must be a hoax? That acts of infidelity are expected to violate the promises we make? As if betrayal is what’s real and the words at our wedding are fake, scribbled in crayon by a child’s hand simply for protocol’s sake. Going through the motions to get a ring and then give it back.
But is that not in direct contradiction of Christ’s message as our bridegroom? “There is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord,” Paul writes (Romans 8:39). So, despite our masochistic comfort zone that convinces us we will one day be rejected, betrayed, cast aside, and forgotten, Christ vows, “I will never leave you.” You see, there is no such thing as divorce between Christ and His bride. He perfectly upholds and fulfills the standards that marriage requires of a bridegroom: to have and to hold his bride, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish from this day forward.
And that is a beautiful thing.