When I was younger, my perception of marriage was shaped mainly by chick flicks and fairy tales. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. They fall in love. And they get married and live happily ever after. Or they ride off into the sunset as the credits scroll up the screen.
What's not to want about that? Riding off across a bridge on the back of a motorcycle with Matthew McConaughey and our love fern while Chantal Kreviazuk plays in the background sounds much more enticing than my life of spreadsheets, PowerPoint, and spin classes.
Why are love and romance so enticing? What is it within us that longs so deeply for a partner? I don't know about you, but I am well aware of the fact that I'm not entirely perfect. No part of me is perfect - not my personality, my appearance, my skill set... in all of these areas, I am lacking. And when I long for love, what I really long for is for someone to come along and say "to me, you are amazing." I want all these flaws to become irrelevant. Tim Keller suggests that "we maintain the fantasy that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed." Ernest Becker, in The Denial of Death, drives this point further home as he writes that "we want redemption - nothing less."
There is a problem with looking for some other human to come along and give us redemption. No man can give this to me. Even if I have a husband who completely adores me (All the time? Flaws and all? #notgoingtohappen), I still need to go into work and deal with areas of weakness. I still need to deal with his mother, who may not find me quite so perfect.
There is one source that we can turn to for redemption. There is only One who loved me so completely and totally, despite all my flaws, that he gave the ultimate sacrifice to make me holy. Romans 5:8 says that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Because of Christ's death on the cross, I stand before God with a perfect record. So when I said earlier that no part of me is perfect, I was wrong. I have been given a spotless record, and one day every part of me will be redeemed and without flaw. And even more significantly, I have been given a relationship with Christ, who is there regardless of how my day has gone or how I've treated him.
Christ alone provides what we are looking for. Marriage was never designed to "complete us", despite what we may believe from Tom Cruise's confession to Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. This is relevant whether we are single and still holding out hope for someone to complete us or married and wondering why we are still insecure. If you are single and feeling unattractive or unlovable -- you are wrong. The God of the universe came down and lived on this earth and died the death you should have died. And if that doesn't rock your world, read it again. Ponder it. Mull over it. Let that truth overwhelm you. And then seek marriage to fulfill it's true purpose.
So what is the true purpose of marriage? Stay tuned...
This post is part of a series of posts on singleness. Read the first post here.