A video has been circulating around Christiandom for awhile now about a young couple who married AFTER he suffered a serious brain injury from which he will most likely never recover. The video went viral with some help from folks like John Piper who issued a challenge of sorts to all of us to reevaluate what marriage is supposed to be and how our lives reflect the selfless, unconditional love of God for us. You can read a summary and some of the fallout here:
For me, there are two things I needed to break down in my reactions to the story.
First, there are those who are struggling through the concept because they first personalize/internalize the story, i.e. could *I* do this? Is this challenging my concept of my marriage (present or future marriage as the case may be) and is God calling me to sacrifice my everything to be bound in a lifelong commitment to someone who may never give me the satisfaction and fulfillment that I think I should get and/or feel entitled to in a marriage? and what does that say about my view of marriage and what it’s supposed to “do for me” – which is the entire point, I believe, of the publicity of this video and John Piper’s endorsement – to challenge our concept of marriage and to remind us of the grace we need to extend to our spouses.
And secondly, and maybe less publicly, there are those of us who reacted to the couple because our notion of someone marrying us as a “sacrifice” feels ludicrous and insulting. I am a 38 year old single woman. I have yet to meet someone I would commit to. I am a career woman and I have been able to accomplish a lot in my life by the grace of God. the notion now of someone coming along and giving sacrificial love goes against what we work for, especially as Americans, with such an ingrained sense of self-sufficiency and a “God helps those who help themselves” mentality. To give up your rights, as well as laying down your abilities, as with BOTH Ian and Larissa’s experiences show, seems so insulting to all of us who would never ask for help and actually hate getting any help, nearly despising those who dare help. How proud can I be? and isn’t it pride that causes our downfall every time… oh yea, God Himself condescends to me… how can I refuse Him?
The things we react to and wrestle with betray our fears and our own pridefulness. the reactions to this story are telling of where we are as a society on what marriage is and why we do it. are we all called to be Larissa and Ian? obviously not. we are called to be Christ where we are and through our circumstances. And instead of wrestling out the choices of other people, like many people are doing with this story, I struggle through my own choices and have to consider what it is exactly I’m looking for and what I’m looking to get out of marriage.
Sometimes I think that Love is actually quite shallow, the Bee Gees song notwithstanding. While I don’t espouse the whole “love is blind” thing, at some point, you make a commitment to love and you run with it. No matter what.
But then comes the laundry list of exceptions, like the phrases you’d find in a legally binding document. If and only if – he doesn’t physically beat me, he doesn’t insult me in front of others, he lets me choose the movie at least 50% of the time, preferably 51%… etc. we have this list in our heads.
There was some controversy a few years back now about a woman in an abusive relationship who was told more or less that God was calling her to go back to her husband by prominent Protestant pastor. The public outcry, much like the one to this story, was laced with personal testimonies of abuse and people questioning what the “ideal” marriage looks like and if Jesus Himself would have told her to go back.
For the most part, people argue about things because they have some need to address in their own lives. That’s why I write a blog. To work out whatever it is I’m thinking about. There are a lot of blog commenters who just need a hobby.
But that’s not to belittle the struggle. It’s a huge struggle. Marriage is maybe the single (um, pun intended?) most important choice you will make in your life. And maybe that’s the problem. Marriage is a big deal only because it costs an arm and leg to put one on? I have been engaged one and a half times… we knew it was a big deal. We both times decided it was too heavy to follow through on. I’m like that runaway bride. But sometimes I wonder if people I know would have stayed with their spouse if that person had a major car accident and became paralyzed? and is that really the only test of true love? Of course not. But people get divorces over less than that. I personally broke up with someone because he had no interest in seeing Batman Begins. Like NO interest. Then he went on to insult Michael Keaton which is just anathema.
Anyway, I don’t really have any overarching point, other than to say read all of this and the fall out on your own and let it challenge you. that’s really the best way to go through life in the first place.