One of the strongest challenges in creating a marriage-friendly culture today is overcoming myths that crop up around it. Because marriage is a huge deal, people alternately get scared of it, attack it, or avoid it.
To counter the misconceptions, I just wrote a piece for Boundless entitled “What Is Marriage Really Like?” that addresses, um, what marriage is really like.
I’m thankful for Boundless, a ministry of Focus on the Family which has done terrific work in helping young people in a commitment-phobic, divorce-happy, immaturity-saturated culture find their way to the altar. I hope this little essay helps that effort. Here’s a swatch from the piece:
Marriage, contrary to what movies, television and breathless newlyweds might say, is not an alternate state. When you get married, you don’t float an inch off of the ground. Your feet, I assure you, are firmly planted; the laws of gravity, I must tell you, assuredly apply. You can’t coast in marriage, in other words. You have to put your heart and soul into it. Husbands have to intentionally and self-sacrificially love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives have to intentionally and self-sacrificially submit to their husbands and joyfully follow them.
Let me jump off of this piece and say a few quick things about what marriage accomplishes. These are both personal and social:
1. Marriage takes isolated people and brings them together. This is what it’s always done. Adam was created good, but he was not created complete. He needed a wife. She was good for him, and he was good for her. When Eve was brought to him, he exulted in her. Humanity, like the Trinity, is made for relationship. We are social beings. (Of course, this holds 100% true if we’re not married, too.)
2. Marriage creates the ideal context for raising children. If a village wants to keep an eye on the kids, great. But villages make terrible parents; the government makes an awful dad and mom. The natural family–a father, a mother, and any children the Lord gives them–is brilliantly designed. Really–God was showing off when he designed it. It marries the strengths of a man, dressed for action and made for activity, with a woman, created to nurture and geared to support. (These roles, by the way, hold true for single people, though they don’t fit into the marital blueprint.)
Today, we’re told by some to justify the design of the natural family. I go the opposite way! I want to see the model that improves on God’s ingenuity. You can’t do it.
3. Marriage is a sanctification laboratory. It puts two sinners into close proximity with one another. Assuming that these two people are saved by Christ, then it creates all kinds of “sanctification opportunities.” There’s no hiding. There’s no escaping. There’s no parting ways because the conversation turns tense and you’re really, really tired and you just want to get away. If marriage is working the way it should, you’ll find yourself regularly challenged.
This is true of big matters–your major temptations and predilections. Your tendency to dominate conversation. Your over-sensitivity. Your watching of way too much sports or reality-TV or gross movies. It’s also true of smaller matters. Your sloppy appearance. Your habit of clicking your tongue before you talk. Your tendency to leave the blinker on for wayyyyyyyy too long. These and other habits meet their end, their rightful end, in the healthy marriage. This happens as a married couple talks and communicates and is edifyingly honest with one another.
There’s much more that marriage accomplishes. There are 10,000 ways it blesses us. But these are a few worth mentioning.