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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Master Mentor #17

Chapter 16 (Book 3, Chapter 6)
In CS’s last chapter, he dealt with the issue of sexuality. This chapter, he turns to a somewhat expected topic when he talks about marriage. Which is similar to me talking about how to parent teenagers because CS is not married (or at least wasn’t married at the time of this writing by his own admission). (And it’s not that I don’t know anything about teenagers, their culture, trends or their lifestyles… because I do. It’s that I’m not sure that I can give practical advice on how to parent a teenager to the parents of teenagers since I have none of my own to try out my ‘theories.’) But his discussion of marriage is interesting.
First, he focuses his discussion on the idea of the promise behind marriage. Which I think is an excellent place to focus. He even goes so far as to dispute on several occasions the popular notion floating around in culture that marriage is all about feelings and how I respond to them. Instead, he focuses on the commitment aspect of marriage and how we ought to maintain that aspect in light of the fact that “feelings” change from time to time. (His example… my situation… this morning I felt hungry. After I had breakfast, I no longer felt hungry. Feelings change. But my commitment to my need to eat regularly continues regardless of whether I feel hungry at this moment remains.) I feel that this promise aspect of marriage is something that is currently lacking in Christian circles. I don’t feel, in terms of divorce situations, that we remind people of the fact that they made a commitment before God, their friends and themselves. Now, I am speaking of the majority of divorce cases in which one or the other “chooses” to get a divorce. I totally recognize that there are a group of situations in which one person had no choice in the matter or in which case, divorce was the only viable solution (marital unfaithfulness and infidelity, abuse, etc). But in many cases that I am aware of, someone or both gave into a “feeling” that they were experiencing or not experiencing and wanted to experience some more. CS compares this idea of helplessly falling in love to “something quite irresistible; something that just happens to one, like measles” (page 101). Good comparison.
But he also discusses the idea of Christians trying to impose their views of marriage and divorce on their unbelieving neighbors and their society. Which to me is absurd but it happens all the time. We somehow expect that those who aren’t Christians or don’t believe in God to live and act like those who do. Which is just crazy to me. And yet the way of enforcing that those who aren’t Christians act like those who are Christians is that we should make laws so that they “have” to like Christians. Again, absurd. Rather we ought to set the standard and then challenge people to live up to that commitment by making the commitment to honor God with their whole lives.

Good thoughts on marriage… from a guy who hasn’t ever done it.

Jim

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