11 July 2007

On Christian Marriage

I'm in the midst of reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It is possibly the most quotable book I have ever read, outside of Theology of the Body of course! Really though, Lewis' spot on observations are so valid in today's world. He was absolutely monitoring the trends of his era, but in a very prophetic way he seems to discuss issues that have snowballed out of control in modern day. His candidness is so admirable, and yet you can not come away without loving this man. Unlike many present day defenders of the faith, Lewis is so genuine and packages Christ's teaching so perfectly that you feel like you're receiving a gift from your favorite uncle with each line you read. What makes it really special is that Lewis was an atheist. He's been on both sides of the fence and was so inspired by Christianity that he made it a huge part of his life's work, writing.

I always feel a long introduction is merited when I speak of Lewis but I never fail to come up short with things to say about him. At any rate, here's a couple quotables about marriage from the man himself...
If the old fairy-tale ending "They lived happily ever after" is taken to mean "They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married," then it says what probably never was nor ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years?
Sadly, this is what many couples think going into marriage. They want to hold on to that initial feeling of being in love. They expect it to last forever like in the movies. Then suddenly they wake up one morning and realize that their "soulmate" is just another human being filled with flaws and prone to major error at any moment. The happy couple doesn't see eye to eye on everything and it's a shock. And love is lost. At least this is how they feel, and this why many will either leave for something (or someone) they think will be better.

That's a poor definition of love though. For it is through these awkward instances when we realize that there is no such thing as a perfect match, at least in our standards (God obviously has a perfect will that often seems far from perfect to us), that can teach us what love truly is. A decision, a choice. A pledge to lead another to holiness at whatever the cost, through bad times and good, through sickness and in health, etc.
Love as distinct from "being in love" is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself.
Imagine that. Sometimes you won't even like your spouse. It's a hard thing for young couples to swallow. But this is no storybook, no romantic comedy. This is life. Real love comes from sacrificing for the benefit of another human being. Not from butterflies in the stomach.

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