Saturday, July 9, 2011

Marriage--accepting the cross in it

(The beginning of dying to ourselves -- an excerpt from a wedding sermon...)

The wedding is only the beginning of death. If you go through this ceremony and then continue to live as you have always lived, you have not understood the first thing about this ceremony. Jonathan, if you continue the habits of a single man, you are mocking the marriage vows you take today. Jonathan, if you do not give your life to guard and support and nourish your wife, you are not keeping your vows, and God will hold you accountable. Hannah, if you live as if you were unmarried, you are not fulfilling your calling. Hannah, if you do not give your life to help and support your husband, you are not keeping your vows, and God will hold you accountable.

Nearly four decades ago, Alexander Schmemann said that the problem with modern marriage “is not adultery or lack of ‘adjustment’ or ‘mental cruelty.’” Instead, the problem is the “idolization of the family” that identifies “marriage with happiness” and refuses “to accept the cross in it.” God’s presence as a “third party” in the marriage spells “the death of the marriage as something only ‘natural,’” and directs it to its true end of the kingdom of God. In short, Schmemann argued, the glory of marriage is “that of the martyr’s crown. For the way to the Kingdom is the matyria—bearing witness to Christ. And this means crucifixion and suffering. A marriage that does not constantly crucify its own selfishness and self-sufficiency, which does not ‘die to itself’ that it may point beyond itself, is not a Christian marriage.”

From Chapter 8 in the book “A Great Mystery; Fourteen Wedding Sermons” by Peter J. Leithart