I just found out another set of my friends is getting divorced. Sometimes I feel like I hear of a new dissolving marriage every week. These aren’t always people I just ‘hear of,’ but sometimes I am close to them. Of course, its an extreme exaggeration to say every week. Still, it is obvious marriages in America have a hard time surviving. Or its probably more accurate to say marriage between humans have a hard time surviving.
Anthropologists claim that marriage is really a human institution and should not be defined to one man and one woman, as that is not historically accurate. Not so much in the department of marriage being defined as being of the opposite sex, yet more so that a it doesn’t work with just one person for life. There is a term for the most common type of marriages (which I forget- serial marriages?), but it holds the same principle as polygamy, having more than one spouse. The only difference is that you hold one spouse at a time, rather than typical polygamy where you have multiple spouses at one time. Whether anthropologists are correct or not with their belief that most marriage is historically not acted out as one man and one woman for a lifetime, that doesn’t really bother me. It really might be true, from my vantage point of life right now it seems that it is true most have multiple spouses (or lovers at least) in their lifetimes. What gets me is that anthropologists take this to claim that therefore the current western definition of marriage is incorrect.
It is assumed that marriage must be a human institution which is fundamentally flawed as it doesn’t reflect reality. Today I was somewhat depressed that this does seem to be true, that marriage seems to be flawed. Its tempting to blame marriage problems on marriage being the problem. I started feeling worried about my own marriage, as generally is the case when I consider marriages splitting up. After all, Josh and I are rather human having our own issues and problems. It seems it would take a miracle for us to not someday end up as another statistic until all marriages are swallowed up by the ugly head of divorce.
In the midst of my depressed thinking I had a profound revelation. Anthropologists are wrong that Marriage is a human institution, let alone a flawed human institution. Of course, aspects of marriage are cultural, and maybe a part of it has the aspect of being a human institution. Yet, in reality, marriage is a God-given (and blessed) institution. It is not flawed in itself. Obviously, the people in each marriage are flawed. But its not the concept, the covenant, the promise of marriage itself which is flawed. It is divine, supernatural even. That was just so relieving. Therefore, I can conclude from that that if my marriage will survive and thrive, it will because God is involved. I am reminded of an old couple I met who was celebrating their fiftieth(?) anniversary. I asked them what made their marriage last so long. They responded “God is the only way any marriage works.” They didn’t know if I believed in God, or if I was an atheist. But they themselves had obviously experienced His miracles in their marriage. I can’t look in the future and say what will become of my own marriage. Obviously I hope it makes it, and that it is beyond “making it,” beyond even a “good” marriage. I hope to end my life with a great marriage, not just at the end but throughout. I can thankfully say that my marriage is dependent on God, the author of marriage. Humbly, we need Him to thrive. We need Him for our own humility, to not just cast blame, to tear down walls, to resist temptations, to forgive, to be bigger than the selfish monster within us. Marriage is not a two person act, it is fundamentally a three person act.
I know most people don’t consider marriage as spiritual (even if their sex life is heavenly), and if they do they think of it as freaky. Like how Mormons don’t take off their underwear and must all be polygamists and want to be eternally pregnant. Of course, those might be completely false assumptions anyways, but that proves my point. It sounds freaky, however you imagine it. But everything has an element of spiritual. Why wouldn’t marriage, along with the accepted aspects such as being emotional, sexual, physical and mental? When I consider marriage as being beyond Josh and I, beyond humanity, beyond this world, it seems more possible. If anthropologists, those who study what it means to be a human at the most fundamental levels, have concluded that marriage is flawed as a human institution, I think that means something. It IS flawed at a human level. Which is why its so nice to know it goes beyond that. There is hope yet for marriage in God.