Saturday, July 15, 2017
The Good Marriage
It seems to me that the Church puts a lot of effort into helping families have “good marriages.” I think this kind of ministry can be very helpful. Better communication, better functioning, less fighting, more getting along, more closeness, better intimacy. However, sometimes I think the message can be interpreted as follows: “a Christian marriage is a good marriage, a great marriage. From this Christian marriage, you can take away happiness, support, love, and emotional energy that can sustain you in your everyday life and your Christian walk.” The reality is that in many ways and at many times, marriage (Christian or not) is more like a cross to carry than an endless source of happiness and strength. Two sinners living life together, what do we expect?
Scripture says much about carrying our cross—mostly that we need to. But when we in the church define marriage without the image of the cross, we may create more hopelessness for those who are struggling. People say to themselves things like: “what is wrong with me and my marriage?” and “to get the sustaining Christian marriage, will I have to marry someone else.”
Of course our goal should not be misery in marriage. And there are times we simply cannot carry our cross (Jesus himself could no longer carry his cross, had to get help from Simone of Cyrene – Mark 15:21). When we cannot or will not, God loves us and is still our Father. But this is clearly where God calls us: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’” – Mk 8:34
The paradox is that when we love and serve the other, when we carry each other’s burdens, when we give ourselves to the other selflessly, that is when we may find what we have been hoping for all along. For that is the path Jesus walked. When he said “come follow me” to his disciples, there was nothing special about the road he was on. Except that he was on it. When you give in your marriage, someone else becomes involved, for Jesus the lover of your soul is there with you. The one who says that he will give you the very water of life. Is there a cross on Jesus’ path? Of course. But Jesus is on that path. And that is what matters.