Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Marriage Is Not For Me" - Or You.

If you've been on Facebook or Twitter this past week, or explored the CNN or Fox News websites, you've most likely seen a blog entry entitled "Marriage is Not For Me". Given its title, most people probably thought that Seth Adam Smith was going to explain how he had become disenfranchised with the idea of marriage. His title had a strategic double meaning, and I was one of many that took the bait! But Smith goes on to explain that through a conversation with his father, he had come to the realization that his marriage exists not for him to be served, but for him to be able to serve his wife, and for married people to be able to make their spouse happy.

It's refreshing to see Smith's encouragement and realization from a peer. So many of our millennial peers continue to flee from the challenge of marriage, only to miss out on its transforming benefits. 

While Smith's realization is encouraging and needed, I think we can push things a little bit further and say that marriage isn't for me...... or you. Without a doubt, husbands and wives must display sacrificial love within marriage. Marriage needs to be about more than simply making our spouses happy and loving them. We can't be set up to believe that our spouses will love us perfectly for the entirety of our marriages, or that we will love them back perfectly either. Any two people that enter into a relationship are spiritually broken in some way, which means we are self-centered, and will end up hurting them.

This is why marriage needs to be about more than us, and also more than just about our spouses. If the focus is simply on lovingly pleasing another person, we will tire in striving to perfectly love them. Where do we find the example of how to selflessly love our spouses? Tim Keller addresses this directly in his book, The Meaning of Marriage.
"But ironically, this newer view of marriage actually puts a crushing burden of expectation on marriage and on spouses in a way that more traditional; understandings never did. And it leaves us desperately trapped between both unrealistic longing and terrible fears about marriage."                                   -Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Thankfully, we are not without hope in our marriages. As Christians, we can look to the relationship that Christ has with us, the Church. This is why marriage was created; to allow us to reflect the sacrificial and redemptive relationship that the Lord has with us, his creation.  

I am not yet married, but am preparing to marry my fiancee Emily in March. I've already seen the ways that I cannot perfectly love her. If marriage were about simply making her happy, she'd be better off without me, and getting out of this thing now. But, thankfully we are not interested in simply making each other happy. We've surrendered the fact that we won't be able to do that perfectly. We continue to pray that the Lord would center our minds and motivations around not only serving one another, but using our marriage to help display the love that the Lord has for us, and the lengths that Christ went to save us from the curse of our sin. We look forward to being married, and know that it will take a great deal of work, sacrifice and patience. We know it will be well worth it. 

We need more millennials that share Seth Adam Smith's realization. Otherwise, marriage will simply be a burden to perform, rather than a covenantal environment in which we can freely love our husbands or wives. Let us not lose sight of the fact that marriage and love isn't simply about the person that you love. It's about the Person who loved us at our worst, and continues to love us.