“Our fathers are our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?”
— Tyler Durden
I never knew my father. This is a statement I’m sure I could use at the beginning of almost any meaningful personal essay. What part of my life has this fact not impacted? If my every insecurity boils down to, “Who could love one like me?” then that terror finds its genesis in the ambivalent, casual rejection by the man who was supposed to love me above all.
Being a child of divorce — and seeing the turmoil of failed relationships throughout my adolescence — has instilled in me a reckless caution when it comes to love. I am already hard to know; combine that facet with this and it’s entirely possible that my heart has more defenses than Fort Knox.
This has the potential to be too depressing. Before I continue, here is a picture of a baby owl.
Everybody feels better now, right?
The thing is, for some reason there is this gigantic social pressure to get married. Preferably as soon as possible. I’m sure Facebook bears some responsibility here. The fact I went to a “marriage school” and now go to a coupling church almost certainly ramps up that pressure. Most of my close friends are married, or at the very least are in committed relationships. It’s also easy to argue that we, suburban white Christians, have made an idol out of marriage. So with this in mind, it is paramount to bear in mind that if I want to marry, I have to do it for one reason only.
Marriage in its proper form is the image of Christ and the Church. It can be nothing else. As Tim Keller says,
In Ephesians 5, Paul shows us that even on earth Jesus did not use his power to oppress us but sacrificed everything to bring us into union with him. And this takes us beyond the philosophical to the personal and the practical. If God had the gospel of Jesus’s salvation in mind when he established marriage, then marriage only ‘works’ to the degree that approximates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ.
Keller continues, “the essence of marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other.” This is an encouraging thought. This says to me that if — and only if — I pursue marriage for what it is meant to be, I am not bound to the paternal legacy that brought me into this world. Since I am all too familiar with the heartbreak of marriage done wrong, nothing else could possibly compel me to marry.