A few days ago I talked about the “god of marriage” that lurks in the dorm halls of Christian colleges (you can read that post here). I talked about how marriage became an idol for me when I attended a Christian school, and I spoke of how I almost got married to a man that wasn’t right for me just to appease my new god.
If I would have married my last boyfriend, I probably would have been miserable. Please note that I don’t say that because I believe in “soul mates” or in finding “The One.” Marriage is ultimately about being the right person, and I believe that whoever you married becomes The One once you marry him/her. And I definitely don’t say that to knock my last boyfriend. He’s one of the nicest guys I know and he has a good heart.
But I had dreams and plans before the god of marriage came along, and because my last boyfriend and I were so different, I would have had to give up those dreams to be with him. I was ready to sacrifice those dreams to the god of marriage, and if I had done so, I believe I would have been miserable.
Now that we have broken up and moved on, I face a totally different scenario.
I have a different boyfriend now.
It wasn’t too long into our relationship when things clicked in my brain, like when you suddenly understand a difficult math problem. So this is what it’s like to be a healthy relationship, to have a partner, to be going the same direction in life. It all makes sense now.
We both have similar goals in life: we want to do great things, we want to travel the world, and have adventures, and make differences.
But neither of us are too keen on doing it alone.
So there’s tension.
On one hand, we love each other. We want to get married, not because of sex or society or peer pressure. We want to get married because we’re partners.
Sometimes I allow this normal, natural, and healthy desire to marry turn into the god that I used to worship.
I believe that marrying my boyfriend eventually would be a logical move on my part. However, we’re not ready to get married now. There are things that I need to accomplish while I’m single (college, learning to take care of myself like an adult, etc.) so that after marriage, I can continue working toward my goals. Marriage is neither the beginning nor the end of the plans that I have for my life.
Yet, sometimes that sneaky false god tries to convince me that it is. It’s always trying to convince me that marriage is THE goal. The “happy ever after.”
Sometimes I have to knock the idea of marriage off the pedestal and remind myself that there is more to life.
Also, I still have a tendency to believe marriage’s false promise to fix all of my problems. I have problems. You don’t survive sexual abuse and an abusive relationship without some baggage. I’m glad life isn’t an airport and I don’t have to pay fees for every extra bag because I’d be broke.
I’m constantly trying to lessen that load, though. I go to counseling. I work on stress management. I try to control my cognitive processes and I try to find healthy ways to deal with the pain.
But it’s hard. It’s really damn hard.
I want a quick fix. I want something that will make everything better.
And the god of marriage wants me to believe that marriage is that quick fix.
“When you’re married, sex won’t leave you feeling as confused and afraid.”
“When you’re married, your depression won’t be as crippling.”
“When you’re married, you’ll make good memories that will take the place of all the terrible ones.”
These are lies.
This is marriage trying to elevate itself above the true God. This is marriage saying, “cast your burdens on ME. MY yoke is easy and MY burden is light.”
Marriage worship is dangerous because it makes us feel like we are incomplete. It makes us forget that we are complete in Christ and convinces us that we need more. It makes us promises that it cannot keep.
And yet, marriage itself is still a wonderful thing. A beautiful thing and a picture (though certainly not the only, or even the greatest picture) of the love that Christ has for his church.
So there’s tension.
Have you ever experienced the tension between the natural desire to marry, and the temptation to “cast all your cares” upon the god of marriage? Share your story!