Can Marriage Work? No. 5
Do We Marry for Love?
by Ernest O'Neill
We’re talking these mornings, just about eight minutes each day, about marriage. We've been talking about the basis of marriage, and saying that the basis of marriage is not love. That's startling! Probably you're ready to disagree vehemently with that. But the basis of marriage, the real basis of marriage, is not love. The real basis of marriage is the Creator's will. It was the Creator that made us in His image, male and female created He them. It was His idea to make us man and woman. It was in order to make us man and woman. It was in order to make us in His image that He made us man and woman.
Earlier in the week we saw that it was His will that determined that Abraham would find a wife for his son that God had in fact chosen. We saw that Isaac ended up marrying Rebecca because the Creator had actually planned that girl for that guy. We saw that we are in the same situation; that things do not happen by chance. We see that there is evidence even in the transcendent sense of falling in love that the thing is bigger than both of us; that there is some divine hand in the whole event, and that even people like us have married and will marry because the Creator has chosen a certain person for us.
What if I’m married and don’t believe in God?
For those who have chosen without any idea of God's will at all, the fact is that though we might not have gotten God's very first best for us, yet He is able to work all things according to the counsel of His will. He is able to weave that into His plan for us, and He allows nothing to happen in our lives that he is not able to redeem. He does not deal with us according to our sins or reward us according to our iniquities. So He does not deal with us, really, according to our mistakes and errors, but constantly from a loving, magnanimous heart that is anxious to work the thing into His original plan for us.
So that's why we say the basis of marriage is not love, but in fact God's will. That's why the words of the marriage service emphasize so much the element of making a promise, making a covenant, and making an agreement because, really, we're simply agreeing to stand by what God has already done. Really, what a minister does is join together on earth what has already been joined together in heaven. So there is an amazing, incredible element of the divine or the more-than-human in your marriage, and will be in your future marriage.
But, many of us, of course, quarrel with that. We say, "Oh, no! I married not because of that at all, but because I fell in love." Of course, the elements of falling in love can have all kinds of undertones to them, because many of us say, "Oh, we fell in love." Well, what we did was, we had a look around. We saw the cutest looking cheerleader in the class, and we decided that that girl would be fun to be in bed with. So, we set about planning the marriage. Or, if we were the girl in that situation, we looked at that handsome, hunky football player on the college team. We decided, "That's the man that I would like to be in bed with." So we made plans to persuade him to fall in love with us.
Marrying for love, or for happiness?
So, many of us use the word ‘love’ but what we mean is we were after our own happiness. Somehow or other, we wanted our own happiness. We wanted the feeling of exhilaration that comes with physical orgasm with that man or that woman, or the experience of romance, or romantic life that we thought we would get with that guy or that girl. So many of us, of course, say, "Oh, yes! We married because of love." Really, what we mean is, "We married because of lust." We married because we thought we would enjoy being close to that person for the rest of our lives.
Many of us, of course, married, because we felt he is pretty important. Or, she is liked by everybody else and it would be pretty nice to have that person like me and like me alone. Many of us felt a bit like Touchstone, in Shakespeare's play, when he married a woman who wasn't very attractive, but who, he explained to his friend was, "a poor thing, sir, but mine own."
Marrying for significance
Many of us married because we needed to have somebody of our own. We needed to have somebody to think that we were important, put out our slippers for us, get our pipe ready for us before we came home at night, or somebody who would think of us as beautiful or wonderful. Just as woman often envies God's worship and wants people to worship her, and as man envies His power and wants to exercise His power, so men and women have often married each other for those reasons.
The man often marries because he would like to have the sense of power that would come from that person thinking of him as the father and husband, and the "lord of all that he surveys." Many times the woman has married because she would love the man to worship her alone, and think only of her. So many of us say that we married for love, but we married for the sense of significance that we'd get from that person.
Marrying for security
Of course, many of us married for security. We just didn't want to be left on our own when our lives began to come to an end. We didn't want to die a lonely death. We didn't want to be left without visible means of support. We thought that man would be a good provider for us and our children. We thought that woman would be a good comfort to us, make good suppers and prepare good food, and take care of our home for us. So we say we married for love, but really we married for the sense of security we hoped to get from being in a relationship with that other person.
Many of us say, "Oh, no! The basis of marriage is love." But the fact is our uses of the word ‘love’ falls far short of love as it’s defined by our Maker and our Creator, or indeed love as it's defined by the best of our philosophers and the highest of our thinkers. So, many of us who are probably listening today know that the basis of marriage surely cannot be the love that in our case was a desire for happiness, or a desire for significance, or a desire for security.
It surely has to be something higher than that. Of course, that's why we say again that the only basis for marriage is that God willed you to marry that woman, and that God is able even to work into His plan and His purpose for you the exercise of your self-will that you engaged upon when you married because you wanted that person. The basis of marriage is not love, but is God's will.
TO BE CONTINUED