Time magazine’s recent article on “Marriage: What’s it Good For?“, reveals how much our world needs Marriage. Not simply people who will get married for happiness, economic partnerships, equal rights, or to procreate, have families and chase an ambiguous dream. But men and women who pray together, “May our relationship reveal the nature of Christ’s relationship with the Church.”
In the article, Belinda Luscombe writes about PEW Research Center’s new findings on changes in marriage statistics. She makes some sweeping general statements like “we found is that marriage, whatever its social, spiritual or symbolic appeal, is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be.” I believe those same statistics are actually a testimony and renewed call for Marriages that reflect Christ to exist. How does that happen? By recognizing the false measurements and foundations used by this exact study.
She seems confused, “Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children–yet marriage remains revered and desired.” Amen! What a testimony that a marriage relationship is more than simply a means to an end!!
Then she jumps into other stats, “The Pew survey reveals nearly 40% of us think marriage is obsolete.” She quotes a sociologist Andrew Cherlin, saying “Getting married is a way to show family and friends that you have a successful personal life. It’s like the ultimate merit badge.” The progression there is, with more people choosing to live together before marriage (mostly in low income situations), there is less inherent “value” in such a badge.
It’s disappointing that in the entire article, there is not one mention of “covenant”. The closest she gets is quoting a Marriage educator that, “Marriage is like glue. You can build something with it. Living together is like Velcro.”
We believe we have been designed to live in relationship with others. Each of us is incomplete as an individual. This leads many of us to marry. Marriage is given to us as a gift, a covenant relationship where God’s relationship with humanity can be revealed. He offers Covenant with us, His Love and Forgiveness, and desiring to spend time drawing closer to each other toward what He has revealed will come. We enter into marriage with that same Love and covenant…not simply an economic, romantic partnership where we strive to achieve “happiness” and feel like we’ve failed or we should move on during days where we feel like less than mountain-top experiences. Luscombe closes with the statement, “Yet marriage is still the best avenue most people have for making their dreams come true.”
Nope. Marriage is not healthy when it is viewed primarily as a path to making our “dreams” come true. As romantic and desirable and marketable as that seems, it can still quickly lead to brokenness without a context for healing.
There is Love. There is romance. There are all sorts of things with the gift of marriage that offer to make it an amazing and enjoyable life-long experience. But we receive it as covenant, it is a window into the heart God has for His bride, the Church. When we do, it reveals Him to a world that needs to hear God’s covenant Love for us, and offers a reminder to others who are caught up pursuing other reasons to marry/be married.
Here in the (Church/marriage relationship), is a place we can be broken, genuine, honest, imperfect, and released from burdens of performance and measurement…and still incredibly loved, valued, and pursued…together.