16
Aug
08

Myths of Marriage No. 10

“In these columns I have been seeking to express truths about marriage that come into direct conflict
with our own usual understanding of it. It is those “myths” in marriage that get us into trouble because
we follow our own idealized vision and not the marriage that is actually before us; the one God has
given us and the one that is asking so much of us just now.

The tenth myth might be put this way: “my home is the place of my refuge.” That is, it is a castle
where I may retreat from the world, a kind of haven from the struggles and pressures and tensions of
the world. I return there to be recharged and refreshed and sent forth out into the world again.
In a certain sense that is true. Our homes are to be places of rest and love and hospitality; places where we can just be ourselves and find relaxation and the restrengthening of our lives. But if we see that as the sole function of the home in our lives we will fall into the common misunderstanding that is often described in the words, “a man’s home is his castle.”

Mike Mason* likens the home to a “monastery”, that is, a place in which people are changed from one
type of person into another; a school where vows have been taken and life is ordered toward the
developing of the spirit and the soul into something higher and finer. If we follow that analogy then the
home becomes the harder sphere as opposed to the workplace. How easily we think of the workplace as where the really tough decisions and actions take place. That’s where the action is and the home is easy. The home is soft and lovely to us and requires little of us. But that is to invert God’s order. God puts the priority on the home and calls us to establish that and focus on that first and then to go into the fields of labor. In fact, in the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 24:5, a man is told not to engage in
outside activities, like war, for the first year of his marriage so that he can be happy at home with his
wife. That is, he is to make the necessary adjustments and give careful time and attention to the laying of the foundations of the home. War in Israel’s history was to possess the land and/or defend it from its enemies so that there could be marriages and homes established in it. To give up the marriage and the home in order to fight the war would make the battle pointless.

If we continue along Mason’s line of the home as a “monastery”, we would understand more about the
nature of our vows in marriage. When a monk or a nun enters monastic life they take vows of poverty,
chastity, and obedience. Our vows at the alter in marriage are similar. We no longer own anything
ourselves, even our own bodies. Everything we have belongs to our mate, It is a vow of poverty.
This is also a vow of chastity because we forsake all others in favor of our own. We give up covetous
desires of other people and devote ourselves solely to our mates. We become a “one-women man,” or a “one-man women,” and we delight only in that one whom God has given to us and to whom we have
taken sacred vows. It is a vow of chastity.

We also take a vow of obedience in the sense that a true marriage obeys God’s order for the institution of matrimony. We are not only committed to each other but to marriage itself as it is outlined in the Scripture. That is a call for husbands to live in self-sacrifice and in self-denial as Christ did for the
Church; laying Himself down for it. (Ephesians 5:35) It is for wives to obey the biblical mandate to
follow the leadership of their husbands and to throw a support under things they do and to be a genuine helper to them.

When we begin to see the home as a “monastery”, that is, a training school for the soul, we will not
resent the pains and sufferings and sacrifices that come along. We will realize “no pain- no gain.”
When deprivations may come to us or some visions of our own have to be scuttled in favor of our
spouse, we will remember that God is shaping us into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ who laid
down His very life for us.

Let us not see marriage as simply a place for the fulfillment of our own desires for pleasure or for rest
and refuge, but as a finishing school in which God is working with the soul of His people so that they
become more like the example of Christ that is found in the Scriptures. Also, after years of marriage an
obedient couple not only resemble each other but they resemble the Lord Jesus in new and exciting
ways because they have been in the “monastery” of the home.”

-Glen C. Knecht

*Mike Mason, author of The Mystery of Marriage

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