An unintentionally poor analogy for marriage & relationships with GodBy: Andrew S
Please let me begin this post with a disclaimer: Jeff Lindsay (of Mormanity, not of Dexter) totally doesn’t deserve this post, since he’s a pretty cool guy and he most likely wasn’t trying to go where I’m about to go at all…but I just can’t resist going here. He wrote a post, Marriage and Grace, wherein he says:
Marriage in both the New and Old Testaments is a metaphor for the relationship we should have with God. His love for us is like the love of a perfect groom for his bride. The requirement for loyalty and fidelity on our part is also similar to the expectations expressed in marriage vows. Marriage, after all, is a covenant relationship, a two-way covenant. In entering into that covenant, one accepts certain limitations and exclusions in life, promising sacrifice, service, and complete loyalty, and thereby obtains great blessings and promises (especially true if you’ve managed to marry someone awesome like I did–I still can’t grasp why I should be so fortunate, but that’s another story).
Going further into Jeff’s post, it was difficult to see what exactly his ultimate point was. He offers a paragraph as an example of what we should *not* expect marriage to be like:
Well, young couple, now you are married, married with God’s power, and since what God does last forever, we know that and marriage lasts forever, and so there’s nothing to worry about. No need to do anything, to exert any effort. No need to sacrifice or make any big changes in your life. Oh, sure, the changes will come naturally since you love each other, but there’s no sense trying to change anything about what you do, what you want, how you spend your time or money, etc.. God has done all the work that needs to be done in marrying you and nothing can change that. Once married, always married, you know. Now enjoy!
…Is this supposed to be a dig at some Christians’ views that “once saved, always saved?” Or that works come about as a natural result of the transformation of faith (and so you don’t seek them outside or externally)?
That caused me to think of what Jeff’s analogy could really be taken as saying. It was a bit comical.
So, here goes nothing:
How divinely-ordained marriages should work
Marriage is a metaphor for the relationship we should have with God. His love for us is like the love of a perfect groom for his bride. In just the same way that we are leagues beneath God’s level (and certainly not equal partners in our relationship, but reliant upon his grace), wives are leagues beneath their husband’s level, certainly not equal partner in the marriage, but reliant upon his grace to allow them to co-preside (or whatever). [OK, that's probably too evangelical a statement. Maybe it's not that we are leagues beneath God's level, but instead, the difference between us is a difference in degree of progression, and not of kind.]
The writers of the Bible understood that our covenant relationship with God, like the bride’s marital relationship with her groom in marriage, requires loyalty and effort on our part. It requires obedience and endurance to the end. Those in the covenant relationship can fall from grace (but of course, it’s only ever us who falls out of grace. Similarly, it is only the bride/wife who can fall out of grace in a marital relationship). The Bible teaches that plainly and explicitly. The covenant relationship with God, not just in the Old Testament but also in the New, requires our obedience and faithful following of God. Similarly, women must submit to their husbands.
How tragic that some teachers and pastors would in essence give advice about God that is potentially just as harmful as that hypothetical bad marriage advice.
…OK, enough of that. There was one line that Jeff had in his actual piece, however, that made me double-take. Since I REALLY don’t get what he’s trying to say with that line, I’ll add emphasis to it and include some other lines before and after as some context:
We believe that marriage can be forever. Yes, of course we’ve heard the verse about how marriage does not occur in heaven. There is also no baptism in heaven. These ordinances are earthly ordinances that must occur here, but both, when properly done and with the right authority, can bring lasting eternal blessings. Marriage is not a place for dating. It’s not a place for people changing their affiliation in faith or in marriage. The ordinances of change, both marriage and baptism, are both ordinances of sealing what should be a permanent relationship and must take place before one can really move forward in the glories of eternity.
What’s that bolded line supposed to mean (emphasis added)? So, is that saying that marriage is not a place if you happen to change your affiliation in faith? So, if you happen to have a faith crisis, then that casts doubt on your marriage?
…What is this supposed to be saying?!
I’ll be frank: I would love to have a concise explanation of our relationship with God. But I can’t help but feel that there are some analogies that either do injustice to the character of God, injustice to the character of our human relationships, injustice to the character of our relationship with God, or injustice to all three. So, let’s try to do justice to these by addressing the
Questions for Today
- What do you see the ideal marriage as? What are the goals? What are the challenges?
- What do you see the ideal relationship with God as? What is God’s “role” or place in the relationship, and what are our human roles?
- Is marriage a good analogy for relationships with God? Am I just reading a whole lot of paranoia into this?