Monday, December 6, 2010


As Larissa knows, I have been ranting about marriage today. I've been thinking about it all weekend - and a billboard I saw last night on my drive back into the city set me off. I got angry. I turned down the radio and yelled with God. The billboard was for a fairly well-known gentleman's club in Chicago. It wasn't the picture that was offensive (although those are driven around downtown every night), the picture was just a pretty girl's face - the caption is what had me horrified. "Divorce doesn't have to be ugly."

What? Really?

It was then that I realized that I don't fully understand what is going on in the world right now. I live in a little bubble of Christian culture here at Moody, and while I am not naive and far from perfect, I did not realize the low standards and expectations America has for marriage. In some states you don't need a reason to get a divorce, irreconcilable differences = (in many cases) I don't want to try. I don't "feel in love." Money. Power. "We're just different."

Now, I'm not trying to hate on divorce. Oh, wait, yes I am. It is controversial. I don't care. I come from a family where my parents had to work to stay together. They had to act like they loved each other even when they didn't. I'm pretty sure there were a few years in there where the "love" we think of just really didn't even exist. That sounds harsh. I don't mean it to be a bad thing, truthfully, everyone will go through times in marriage where they don't feel like they love their spouse. Because guess what? Love isn't a feeling.

So here is where I quote 1 Corinthians 13 right? (The Love Chapter). Nope. It is a wonderful passage on love, but it is not talking about marriage. It can apply to marriage, and it should apply to all people. What it is really showing us is the perfect love Christ has for us, and how we will never be able to love like Him, but we must try. We must work at it. Every. Day.

I was with Candice yesterday, and her new baby Peyton (hence the poem below). She is married to her husband, whom we both love dearly, Andrew. We talked about marriage, their new baby, their wedding, love. I have never experienced the presence of Christ at a wedding like I did at Candice and Andrew's. It was truly the most beautiful wedding I have ever been to. Standing and watching them take their vows as the maid of honor, tears streamed down my face because the glory of God was so evident as they stood before each other, slipping the rings onto each other's fingers. Their DJ, who they had met that morning, emailed Andrew a month ago telling them that he just wanted them to know he had never experienced God in a wedding like on that day in August, 2009.

Now they have a baby girl. As I held her yesterday, I marveled at what the sexual union between men and women creates - life. Life in this tender, pink, yawning package. Life that as mother and father you are meant to sustain and discipline and love and guide for the rest of their lives. That tiny infant, so dependent on them, bonding to her mother as she nurses, bonding to her father as he holds her late in the night. Why don't we see the family as beautiful anymore? Why is it not valued? Isn't it something worth fighting for, worth living for, worth dying for?

I think it is. God thinks so too. He compares Christ and the church to marriage. That is, at its core, what marriage represents. We, as adopted sons and daughters are one flesh with Christ - and how has God chosen to show this today? By creating man and woman, and uniting them together in the bond of marriage. One flesh. What then happens in divorce? Again, I know this is hard. Even in my own mind I find it hard to say these things. But we aren't meant to experience broken relationships, broken families, broken marriages. We are created to be eternally united to our Father, and, if we do marry, to be united to that person"as long as we both shall live."

Ephesians 5:21-33 (which quotes from Genesis 2:24)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I know that is a lot. But if you are interested in this topic, read through this and look carefully at how marriage is presented here. The husband is taking a wife, with baggage, with pain, with sin (cause we all have that), and uniting himself to her. Becoming one. Wow. Amazing. Literally, one.

This is all coming from a place of a little bit of a new understanding about marriage and some words that were spoken to me a few days ago that filled me with immense peace. It is also coming from conversations had with Candice about her relationship with her husband, and her baby that were enlightening. And then that billboard. It makes me so upset. I can't hide or contain my frustration. I want to do something about it. I'm afraid the world will never find value in marriage again, not in the way that it is intended. I think it might only get worse.

That is why, as people who have Christ and know truly what love and marriage require, must show the world what it means to be married. It doesn't mean it will look perfect. It doesn't mean it will be easy. It doesn't mean you will be happy. I'm obviously not married, so I can not even begin to describe how much you must sacrifice and how unselfish you must be to make it work. But hopefully, it is more than that. Much more. I know it is possible. And I have married friends who would say it is, too.

Okay, enough. I need to do homework. It is the last week of classes, after all. Let me know what you think.


dawn said...

you are wise beyond your years...beautifully written. you're right. marriage has become disposable (like so many other things in our society) and we do need to be honest about those difficult, dark places in marriage that can be worked through. and tell people that God can use even those things to restore relationships. thanks for sharing your heart.

Donna Boucher said...

Today at "Bible" study, we went around the table to say what we were thankful for....A woman (who I don't know her name) said she was thankful for her husband. They have been married 18 years and she has the most grateful heart about her husband and marriage.

I wished you were there to hear her.

It was lovely.

Emma said...

I wish I had been there, too. Maybe over break I should come to this Catholic Bible study with you. I'll enjoy keeping my mouth shut. Blessed Sacrament sent me a packet on mission work next summer here at Moody a few days ago. (:

Donna Boucher said...

Love it.

You will be getting a nice big Christmas package soon! We packed them today!

Walworth said...

I think this is a great post Emma and a big encouragement to me. You are sincerely wise beyond your years. You can write like this, not because you are married, because you search the Scriptures and have a relationship with Christ. You seek to know Him and His Word. A pastor of ours taught us how to raise our children because he read and taught the Bible. Actually, the two main pastors we have sat under do not have children, isn't that interesting....? Anyway, I love you sweet girl and continue to seek Him first. Aunt Janet. <3

Johannah said...

hey emma just want to say i read your stuff sometimes and it is so great to hear from people back home who aren't comfortable and complacent!
since i'm getting married in three weeks, this one peaked my interest. :)
couldn't agree with you more that divorce is just not meant to be, and it eats away at what is meant to be a living, breathing, earthly demonstration of God's heart for us for all eternity! so often i explain to people in scotland what Christianity is really about: relationship with God. immediately they lose out on the aspect of Lordship. shouldn't surprise me i guess since there's a cyclic degrading of our modern understanding of 'relationship.' how can one understand what marriage is supposed to be if they can't model it after relationship with God? and how can someone pursue true, holy relationship with God if they don't understand what it truly means to be faithful, or to love, or to obey?

anyway... so like i was saying, just wanted you to know that i get a lot from seeing your posts and statuses randomly popping up!

johannah thill

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