Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Love doesn't sustain marriage. Marriage sustains Love"

In May 1943, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to a young bride and groom, advising them on the nature of the union they were about to enter:

"Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal — it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. As you gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."

A further reflection on Bonhoeffer's quote is in this Washington Post Op-Ed piece : “Marriage was a status we graduated into, and it was bigger than we were. It defined us, and not the other way around. Now we seem to be losing the institutional imperatives of marriage, leaving only the private relationship -- and that is increasingly likely to turn on such things as personal satisfaction.” (If its a match between Bonhoeffer and Bruce Willis, I choose Bonhoeffer.)

So, my question is this: Have the following words any power under God to save a marriage?

...to have and to hold
From this day forward,
For better or worse,
For richer or poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
Until we are parted by death.
This is my solemn vow and promise.”

Love, Justin.

25 comments:

seapea said...

IS THAT THE MISSUS???WHOA! you lucky lucky mannnn

Cyberpastor said...

These words have the power to effect the marriage in so far as they are allowed to shape the expereinece. They give the insitution meaning in time and space.

The Pocknalls said...

Great quote from both men. I am with the 'Bon' man one, but I guess if you weren't a christian and in the limelight all the time, then Bruce's statement makes sense.

Benjamin said...

What a profoundly excellent idea--that words have the power to save! Salvation is a fascinating idea in itself. You spoke of saving a marriage, and Christians also tend to speak of "salvation" in more general terms. What does this mean? That is, what are Christians talking about, and what does it mean to see a marriage "saved"? To me, my marriage is saved, and I am saved, when I, and we, am miraculously enabled to move away from and out of death and into and toward life. And I have specific meanings in my head when I use these two terms "death" and "life". And in this sense, absolutely, these words make up a part of that which can "save" a marriage.

michael jensen said...

Well, it helps that you are both hotties.

;-)

Simon Elliott said...

Justin,
Love is a choice, and when you marry you make a statement about what you will do (not what you already do, hence I will)you will love the person. YOu are saying that you will choose to love the other person, in all those situations (sickness, health etc. etc). Marriage can save a marriage when you recognise that love is not a feeling but a choice, if you want feelings then they will probably follow the choice.
Under God we make choices about how to live, God has told us to love our wives as Christ loves the church, not to love our wives as long as we feel like it. Under God we are obliged to choose how to live, to choose to love GOd, one way of doing that is to love your wife, or your husband (not both). A choice not to love your wife is a choice to disobey God, and while recognising that we all sin, we must recognise that this is a sin. In that it is going against what you have promised to do, and going against what God has told you to do.

Jud, are you sure everything is okay at home? If not, get off the computer and talk to your wife...

Anonymous said...

Justin, do you know Dr Tim Keller Redeemer Church in NYC? I was reading Preacher's Wife & she linked to his 9/11 sermon. Good.

Marion

chelsea said...

I love that photo!

And those are very cool, interesting words! Something the world greatl needs to hear. And something i hadnt thought of before...thanks jman!

Justin said...

Cyberpastor -- Indeed. The promise makers have to be promise keepers. Thats the only way the a promise has power. I think that I like the fact that a 'third party' is involved. THere is you, your spouse and your marriage [you vow].

Justin said...

SeaPea -- Blessed indeed.

Justin said...

Ben -- To be 'saved' seems like such a simple idea to understand. 'I was stuck'. I was 'saved'. A helicopter rescue pilot knows what this means. And yet with Xns, its a loaded term.

I guess I simply mean that when a marriage is stuck, the marriage itself can 'unstuck' it. Because the marriage itself is bigger then the two people involved.

But you have even deeper thoughts than that, right?

Justin said...

Simon,

But I'm not on the computer...

No wait...

Oops.

Justin said...

Marion. Yes, I know Tim Keller. Our links with REdeemer are in previous posts.

Benjamin said...

I'm not sure if you are teasing or not with the "deeper thoughts" thing. My internal response is one of self mockery.
I guess I want "saved" to mean too much. It's helfpul for you to pare it down like that. Of course, these "little" "salvations" are amazing, when they happen, like when the helicoptor pilot lifts you from the sinking ship. But I want a general, much larger salvation from the sinking ship that is a combination of a broken Benjamin and a cursed creation. And since this larger salvation strikes me as so enormously desirable, and since I enormously hate this tendency in myself to hope, since experience has taught that all my hopes will be dashed, and the bigger they are they more painful the dashing. So I lash out against the idea of salvation.
what am I talking about? It's like I read about William Golding, author of the Lord of the Flies, being interviewed about his books. He said what we don't realize is that we think that the book is over, and the boys are "saved" when the British ship shows up and gets them off the island. But what we forget to ask ourselves is who will save the British military guys?

Craig Tubman said...

J.
Thankyou once again for some great thoughts....or at least rereleased thoughts on the shoulders of giants. I miss you.
Always classic that unless you cover every single detail some people think they need to 'help' your definition.
our problem is we fear too much of what is unsaid rather than relaxing and embracing what is said.
I was relaxed, challenged and encouraged.
ct

Brandon Fibbs said...

I've only been married for two years, but have found it both the most miraculous and most exasperiating undertaking of my life. These were great words to hear, and needed...

Anonymous said...

i think that love sustains a marriage. Only from love can the marriage vows flow.... i think this mainly because i am an impossible romantic and refuse to think any differently. BUT although i don't ever really think about my marriage vows, i think about other stuff - forgive as the lord forgave you, be kind and gentle, have sex all the time - apparently its in the New Male Translation, of the bible. Ha ha. Jokes aside, it's a good post Jman. Certainly got me thinking!Rhea

Scott said...

J
Those thoughts were perfect timing.
We had our Senior Youth Camp over the weekend and i was speaking on Jesus in the Psalms ("How to sing a song when you've forgotten the tune").We looked at Ps 45 - a wedding Psalm. This post was good for me to chew on pre talk.

author of Den's Lens said...

Justin, Jman, nephew . . . can Adelaide uncles log into the blog or do/does their/his dodgy views need to be screened/cleaned first ?

Den

Justin said...

Den -- A random moment -- Great to have you over. Of course, you are most welcome to comment. I Googled you looking for a Blog, and find this. You were published in June this year! Email me jmoff at hotmail dot com. I’ve love to hear how it’s selling. And to answer your question -- profanities aside, you are free to make whatever dodgy comments you like.

Benjamin said...

Saw the review for Dens Lens. Looks very readable. I thought it hilarious the way amazon has the "customers who like this book may also enjoy ..." section at the bottom with offerings about refractive eye surgery and eyeglass lens prescriptions. Makes me want to get published to see what strange things amazon will offer those who like my book. I wonder how Mr. Moffat defines "profanities"?

Justin said...

I wonder how Mr. Moffat defines "profanities

BEn -- Generally they have four letters and start with a few consonants that you could guess.

But don't guess here on my blog...

:)

Thanks for your email Uncle D.

Benjamin said...

Hmmm. Would Jesus have been considered guilty of uttering "profanities" by the people who kept track of such things back in the day? Like ... "Before Abraham was, I am" and so forth? Cause Wiki has "profanities" as originally mostly and still partially talking about "blasphemies".

Justin said...

Ben -- I don't mean to attach guilt to the saying of profanities. THis is a family blog,after all. And there are other words that can be used.

Jesus did say: 'Raca' after all. [Matthew 5:somewhere].

Seni said...

Hi Justin

Great thoughts!! especially to single guys like us who anticipate graduating from this wonderful enduring life of singleness!!!

'ofa atu

seni