Thursday, June 21, 2007

Weddings and God

I'm officiating a wedding in Austin for a friend of my brother's. The bride and groom are very nice; I've had a chance to meet the groom before and he is easy to talk to and seems very sincere. I was joking around with my brother about weddings and we were discussing the eloping alternative, and I started wondering what a Vegas-type wedding would be like.

I spent some time wondering what I would say in a wedding ceremony that did not include God. At first I thought it would be very short: "Do you want to marry this person?" But the longer I think about it, the more "what if's" come into play. What are you going to do if you have a disagreement? What if a job situation arises that provides opportunities for the two of you in different places? What if you come to a time and a place in which it will be a long, hard struggle to find intimacy again? Will the answer still be "I will"?

Most of the time the answer is, "I need to know my options". So maybe the new question is, "Do you now, and forever, without knowing your options"? Are most people sincere when they make that promise? When does the answer change? Maybe we are not doing a good enough job helping people count the cost of marriage. Maybe, in our microwave age, thinking ten years ahead is just a blur anyway.

Does the current job loyalty climate mirror the commitments we have to our spouses? When I was in the business field, it was rare for someone my age to have stuck with the same company for ten years - in fact, it was seen as a failure on your part as if you couldn't get a better job with another company. I don't see a problem with that in your career, but we could see this just as well when we would invite a group of people over for lunch or dinner. We knew how many to invite because only so many would bother to RSVP, and even those that RSVP'd, a percentage of them would not show, some never bothering to let us know. When asked why they didn't show (at first I asked, but later gave this up), the general answer, not in their exact words in order to be nice, was that they had found a better option. I later found an article stating that event planners only count on 70% attendance rate. Maybe all of this is a part of the sociological ethos that says, I've got to look out for myself because no one else will. In the end, we just can't trust anyone.

From my perspective, I hold Jesus followers to a higher standard. No "maybe's", no "for right now", no "well let's just try it out and see what happens". There are legitimate reasons for divorce for safety because of abuse or disloyalty from your spouse. There are definitely legitimate reasons for not showing up for dinner. But how casually we commit. I don't want to see the person sticking it out just because they said they would, I want to see the person sticking it out because it means a new level of understanding wrought from loyalty, a deeper presence in a life of intimacy, a more valuable treasure received from a sacrifice.

I hope I learn this. It has held true, for those moments when I am not self-absorbed. For those moments when I exist to do what is best for my kids, life is good. For those moments when I exist to help my wife, life is sweet. In those moments, trust is no longer the issue. I exist as a loving person of sacrifice and, at the same moment, become fully human. Then God is back in the midst of the relationship.

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1 comment:

Mike Miller said...

Excellent post, John. Especially the part about holding believers to a higher standard