Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Old Time Marriage Advice for Postmodern Marriages

The 20th century vaudevillian, comedian and actor George Burns was married to Gracie Allen for well over 30 years. Their marriage, though far from perfect, weathered years in Hollywood where the life expectancy of a marriage has never been great. When people would ask him for how to have a successful marriage he would reply, "I tell them the answer's easy--marry Gracie."

I am not holding them up as the ultimate marriage model, but I feel the same way about my marriage, because I feel like choosing the right life partner makes all the difference. When younger women talk to me about marriage, I often tell them to marry someone fabulous like I did. Even with a great spouse, however, marriage takes work. I need to submit to my husband everyday, even as he lays down his life for me.

I really love Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of the famous marriage verses in Ephesians, and especially appreciate his inclusion of verse 21, as opposed to the typical truncating of the passage by starting it after the verse which exhorts mutual submission among all believers, and not just wives to husbands.

Ephesians 5:21-33

Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church--a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor--since they're already "one" in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

Marriage is such a high calling, and so important as a stabilizing factor in society, and yet it is treated as disposable even in the church. Help us, Lord, to pour ourselves out to one another extravagantly as you have done for us.

Micah Girl



Blogger WES ELLIS said...

I agree.

we sometimes treat marriage as something it isn't. we have fantasies of a woman or a man entering our lives and forget we are entering theirs. We are now part of their circle of friends not just them part of ours. I think marriage is rooted in very beautiful concepts: devotion, love intamacy, passion...

But there is no lack of struggle. We can either grow apart in the storms of life of grow closer.

I am single so my understanding is based completely on perception without experience but I believe that we have an inherrent understanding of what is good and pure.

3:08 AM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

You are wise beyond your years, Wes.

2:39 PM  

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