Aug 27, 2010

Marriage: A trivial pursuit, Part I

As a newly graduated and working young lad, I set out to remind the world that I was about to enter into the prime of my life. For me, that time of life represented always being in a relationship. Of course, none of them were to ever become *gasp* 'serious.' How would I ever know if I chose the right person?

The "M" word had a place in the far left aisle, bottom shelf, lower right corner, in the dusty old recesses of my childhood vernacular. If there was an exemplary portrait for me to assign any elaboration of the term to, it was extremely well hidden. Therefore, marriage had a very broad definition. Divorce was another way to say marriage, which was no important matter really, they were both spelled the same anyway. Unfortunately, many today share this same tragic view.

Photo by: Cpl. Stephanie Ingersoll
I would like to introduce you to the story of Linda Wolfe, 68, Guinness World Record Holder. She is the current reigning champion of marriages weighing in at an unprecedented 23 civil unions. Her last husband, a Baptist minister, was a record holder in the same category for males, and this union was admittedly for publicity. Wolfe is back in the market again now that 12 long and lonely years have passed. She is currently in market for the 24th Mr. Right. In response to the question, what went wrong? Linda Wolfe said her marriages failed for a variety of reasons. Two of her husbands were gay, two were homeless, a few were unfaithful and one was physically abusive. (src: Aol news)

At least Linda Wolfe is admitting that her husbands were wrong.

It comes as no surprise that knot-tying is a forgotten art. It is far more convenient these days to tuck the laces in the side of your shoe, slip-on, slip-off. Necessity is the mother of invention, and convenience is the step-child. To proliferate the lack of discipline or care, we now live in a culture of no-fault divorce. Simply summarized, if I do not like my wife anymore, all I need to do is say so, or vice-versa. Now that no-fault legislation is creeping into every divorce court across the land, the argumentation of moral merit is decreasingly present, and almost all but vanished. The debate of divorce validity has been relegated to protecting the non-monied spouse, the proper division of property, and the increasing inability for legal counsel to prove egregious fault in cases involving adultery, abuse, or worse matters.

In comment on the impact of what marriage and divorce has become, this excerpt from WORLD magazine is telling,

Still, divorce laws are powerfully symbolic because they tell us what a marriage should be, said Robin Wilson, professor of law at Washington and Lee University. Taking adultery and abuse into account during a divorce tells society that marriages should be faithful and loving. In a divorce case called one of the nastiest in New York history, supermodel Christie Brinkley left with $80 million after exposing her husband Peter Cook for sleeping with his 18-year-old assistant and then bribing her to stay silent, and for committing sexual acts in front of a web cam and transmitting the feed across the Internet.  -Breaking up is easy to do, Alisa Harris, WORLD Magazine

So now that we have found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a cultural environment that propagates every possible temptation of the flesh for your instant gratification, eliminating some of the 'primitive' reasons for marriage and permanent union, we have also entered a new era in which the reason for divorce is the main driving point to most conversations on the subject. Also, to add to this growing dilemma, the definition of marriage for so many people is becoming a more prominent question for my generation, those who have followed, and those to come. I believe the answer to this question is rooted much deeper than the current debate concerning one-man and one-woman, or is homosexual marriage a valid civil union. Can the answer be found in the foundation of a marriage covenant itself? Let alone its place in the civil arena?

Instead of defining what marriage should be by basing it on the inherent symbolic nature of divorce laws, or gender related issues surrounding same sex marriages, "What impact would acknowledging that civil law has no impact on the validity of a marriage, or for that matter, a divorce have on our view regarding marriage?"

This is my question, and I would love to hear your thoughts before I begin formulating the follow up.

If you are reading this, and you are a Christian (or not), do not be deceived into believing that there is provision for divorce in the Church. Many would have you believe that infidelity is grounds for dismissal. This is simply not so, and it is a humanistic teaching that emanates from many pulpits and evangelical bookstores across America. It is a lie, and it is unbiblical. Jesus, made no provision for divorce, save death, and this perspective should saturate our thinking when we begin assessing a proper definition of marriage and divorce. I will also aim to expound upon this idea further in the follow-up to this post.

Mat 5:32  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. 

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