“I was in love.” “I wanted to be happy.” “I wanted someone with whom to share my life.”
The main problem with all these reasons, and the many similar ones we employ, is that they all have one thing in common: they all start with “I.” This, as it turns out, is the antithesis of marriage’s intended purpose.
Marriage is about giving, not receiving. It is about humility and service — and endurance. In other words, it’s about true love.
This makes perfect sense if you are fortunate enough to learn about marriage from the One who created it. God, Who first came up with the idea that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV), told us this most sacred union is a metaphor for the relationship between Him and His church. He tells husbands to “love [their] wives, just as Christ also loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV).
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Well, how does Christ love His church? Unconditionally. Think about it. What does God need from you and me? Nothing. Therefore, since we have nothing He needs, all He does is give. Yes, He gives and gives and gives, receiving nothing in return.
Even when we betray His trust, He loves.
And we are to love our wives in this manner? Yes. That is why this postmodern idea of the 50/50 marriage is such a failure. Marriage is a 100/0 idea. My commitment to my wife is to be carried out, irrespective of how much I get from her. It is unconditional. This is so, because it is as much a commitment to God as it is to her.
Of course, the idea is that she will be committed to me in a similar way, giving me her unconditional love and, therefore, transforming it into a 100/100 situation, but the true test comes when those expectations are not met. That’s when the real work of God, through our marriages, is done in our lives. When our spouse hurts us, doesn’t meet our expectations, or betrays our trust, that’s when the true test comes.
We don’t retaliate or withhold something to make a point. We love. We forgive. We understand. We humble ourselves. Yes, even when they are totally in the wrong. And yes, even when this is the 50th time he or she has done it, and you’ve addressed it for the 50th time.
Every time I feel a smidgen of wanting to give up, I remember that God has never given up on me, even when I’ve disappointed Him time and again.
The postmodern man says, “Get out!” “If she is not really meeting your needs, why stay in such a relationship?” We have lifted up the protection of our pride and self-centeredness as noble endeavors, the very things that marriage is meant to destroy.
Is it any surprise that about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce in the United States?
The truly sad part about this turn of events is that people who buy into this idea never get to experience true intimacy and, therefore, miss out on true love. There is indescribable joy on the other side of struggle.
The passage in 1 Corinthians 13 used to be a favorite for wedding ceremonies:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. (v.4-8, ESV)
But not anymore. Who believes that? We know better today. The postmodern man’s idea of marriage is a “let’s-see-how-it-goes” approach. It has nothing to do with true love. Fun? Yes. Sex? Yes. Wealth? Yes. That tickling feeling in the stomach? Maybe.
But love? Not a chance. It doesn’t even cross our minds, because we don’t even know that it is possible.
As G.K. Chesterton said of the Christian ideal, love “has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
Modern couples never try to love in this way because it is “unrealistic.” And they miss out on one of the most wonderful gifts of life.
So this Valentine’s Day, if you are looking for that someone special, I hope you give true love a chance. It might not be what the world expects. It might not be what you expected. But you won’t be disappointed.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.