Thursday, July 29, 2010

Marriage... Is It Sacred?

I stumbled upon a disturbing post this morning.  An author poses the question:  "If marriage is legal, why isn't prostitution?"  He claims one person in the marriage is always the provider and the other is always the recipient of support.  He bases his best argument on the fact that fat and ugly wives are partners only to less successful men and fat and ugly prostitutes earn less than half of their more attractive, thin competitors.

It's a ridiculous article and I'm not actually posting the link.  The author discounts completely that unpaid work, i.e., raising children, caring for the home and family, etc., has value in the relationship.  He never considers the likelihood that the marriage will result in children and that those children benefit from a stable, committed relationship between their parents.  He ignores that the married couple shares a rich, full life in common and expects their union to be enduring rather than fleeting.  I was left with the sense that this particular author sees the only value of a woman in terms of her sexuality rather than the whole, beautiful person she is.

St Paul first describes the role of the spouses in Ephesians 5: 

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
St Paul's advice may be some of the most misunderstood and misabused passages in the New Testament.  A Christian wife is not called to submit herself to an ogre!  I am called to submit my life to a man who loves me as his own body, a man willing to sacrifice his very life for mine, a man capable of dying to himself and rising again a new creation in communion with me.  I think St Paul calls us to something uniquly and profoundly beautiful.

Are we capable of creating something this beautiful in twenty-first century America?

Not in a world proliferate with bumper stickers like this one:  "NEVER GIVE UP on something you can't go a day without thinking about."

My single - and some of my not-single - friends describe the dating scene as a free-for-all.  Wedding rings are no longer a deterrent to interested parties. 

That's not so good for Western Civilization.  Historically speaking, our entire society is based on the Christian family.

Is marriage sacred?  No, but it should be.

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