Photo Credit: Suni Danielle Photography
Two years ago I made the greatest decision of my life… Lindsay Faull. But after two years of marriage, I wonder if she did. Because let’s be honest, she didn’t marry an astronaut. Or a doctor. Or a GQ cover model. Or a Yankee (the baseball kind). I’m from Mars and she’s from Earth. I make mistakes daily. I wait too long to apologize. I forget to take out the trash. Sometimes I even make decisions out of spite. And have I mentioned how much I don’t like hummus? Apparently that’s like the unforgiveable sin among women, a real deal-breaker.
Point is, Lindsay and I know she married the wrong person. In fact, sin’s presence in the world guarantees that we all marry the wrong person. There are only two kinds of people: (1) wrong people who think they’re right and (2) wrong people who are becoming right, through Jesus. And you’ll marry one of the two.
So I blogged about this. And because of the tremendous interest the original post drew, I’ve been posting a series of follow-ups. Each one addresses some of the more destructive ways people react to the painful reality that their Mr. or Mrs. Right can be awfully wrong… and they don’t even come with a warranty. Let’s look at solution #3 today:
So what then is the solution? What do you do when you find yourself in a relationship with the “wrong person?” Well here are a few things you could try:
(3) Avoid it all. Make it girls’ night out every weekend. Feed your appetite for sex when it’s hungry, for community with drinking buddies, but don’t let anyone too close. Marriage is old news anyways. Commitment is so Generation X. No strings attached. Lock your heart up in an “iron-clad dungeon” where no one can reach it, and allow it to grow “motionless, unbreakable, and impenetrable.” Then no one will ever break it… or capture it.
God’s view of marriage proposes that cross-shaped commitment is the key. Not chemistry. In fact, cross-shaped commitment is chemistry. There is no greater proof of love than the willingness to commit your life to and for someone else. Just ask Jesus.
But commitment is so out-of-style today in our “me-first” world. It’s old news. Oppressive. Obsolete. This is why marriages are happening less and lasting less. Might as well retire the institution to a museum. It’s a goner. The only solution to marriage is to avoid it.
In fact, here are three of the top reasons I’ve heard people give to explain why marriage is worth eluding.
1. I don’t need it.
For decades now, people have predicted that marriage is the dinosaur of the twenty-first century. It’s on the verge of extinction. With cohabiting becoming the new norm, people have begun to ask the next logical question, “What’s the point of marriage anyways? If I can get all the perks of marital intimacy without the rings, license, and financial/emotional drain of Bridezilla, why take the next step?”
But the reality is, you can’t get all the benefits of marriage without marriage. And that’s because marriage is the best context to learn how to break the chains of the “me” mindset. There’s nothing that matures a person, or a society for that matter, quite like marriage.
People who are fortunate enough to experience a marriage like this, Christian or not, know this. Marriage done right is far from oppressive or obsolete. It’s the breeding ground for functional families and a healthy society. Marriage is not “so generation X.” It is as relevant and needed as ever. And when it is done right, it is an ultimate good. For your kids. For your culture. For others. Even for yourself. Ironic, I know. Because it’s not about you.
2. I don’t want it.
Many argue that “Commitment constricts.” “Marriage means forfeiting my freedom.” “Saying ‘I do’ means life, as I know it, is over.” “So we don’t want marriage, we just want to have fun!” “No strings-attached!” “Girls night out!”
In my experience though, this approach is usually a front. It’s either a clever way to avoid the responsibility of actually loving someone or it’s a safe way to avoid our ultimate relational fear. Rejection. Because fact is, marriage is dangerous for you! When you step into it, you agree to broadcast the deepest darkest corners of your life, every day, uncensored, no make-up, all sweatpants, morning breath, bed-head and all.
Marriage allows someone into your life in an up close and personal way. And we all know we have issues. So the prospect of someone seeing these issues, and then rejecting you, is horrifying. “What if they don’t like me?” “What if they expect me to change and I can’t?” “What if they find out that I’m the wrong person?” “And what if that leads to divorce?” Ouch!
So many people avoid serious commitment all together because the prospect of pain is too great. They probably won’t say this because that means admitting they have issues up front. But that’s the glaring truth hidden behind the mask.
C.S. Lewis has something to say about this:
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
He’s so smart.
3. Sex is better without it.
It is simply a fact that the sex drive is as much of a part of being human as breathing. It starts early in life when 5th-grade boys peg their crush with dodge balls, and continues late in life when pills and surgeries become the answer to keep sex alive. So why must we limit this appetite to marriage? People holler, “That’s just torture. What’s wrong with one-night stands? Why not feed this appetite when it’s hungry? If you don’t feed yourself, then you’ll starve. And starving stinks. So dine on different dishes. Find new flavors. And move on when a taste goes bland.”
This mindset is but another example of our raging sense of “me” intruding on something that should be about “us.” That’s why your sex appetite won’t be satisfied while you see sex as “all about me.” It’ll always be hungry, but never full. It will always ask for more, better, different. And it’ll do more harm than good. Because sex wasn’t created for me, it was created for us.
God created sex. So he knows what makes sex work. That’s why scripture suggests it should be practiced within the confines of a specific environment, marriage. Sex is a means to celebrate commitment, and that’s why it is so destructive outside of commitment. With each new partner comes a new bond that either follows you or desensitizes you.
SIDEBAR: On a somewhat related note, when I suggest “Sex is for marriage!” People often ask, “Well how far is too far before marriage?”
I don’t have a verse for this. Sorry. There’s nothing so concrete. But I will say that in scripture all sexual intimacy is always reserved for marriage. It’s simply assumed that serious intimacy follows serious commitment. I’ll let you decide what that looks like for you. But Christians, make sure you’re asking, “How do I honor my God and future spouse with my decisions?” Not “How far can I push it?” That’s like a mother asking, “What’s the minimum amount of effort I can put into parenting and my kids still turn out okay?” Not the attitude of a cross-shaped disciple. The cross-shaped question is “What does love look like?” not “Where’s the line?”
To close, let me say something to our single readers. I think there are some really honorable reasons to stay single forever, but none of these previous three make the cut.
To be honest, I hope you fall in love. I hope you find the one. I hope you tie the knot. Because, again, I believe that nothing matures a person quite like marriage. Nothing has the potential to make you more like Jesus. The biblical view of marriage pairs up two sinners, who commit to the task of one another, for the sake of one another. It pairs up two imperfect people, who commit to the work of expressing Jesus’ self-sacrificial love, to their love, so that they might see them become the person God has always intended them to be.
So if you’re single but waiting for the one, start preparing now. Be the person that the person you hope to marry hopes to marry. No one has ever said to their sweetheart, “What!? You’re thirty and a virgin? We can’t get married! Why don’t you take a year and go get some practice, then we’ll talk!” No! Actually, your purity will help them look past your shortcomings! Your proactive fidelity will help them get over that receding hair-line or monstrous school loan! So start sacrificing for your spouse, even if you’re convinced he’s Tim Tebow, or even if you haven’t the slightest clue who she might be. You won’t regret it.
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