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Love As The Fruit Of Marriage, Not The Cause (via Will Willimon)

Will Willimon observes, in Accidental Preacher, that the promises of marriage are future intent, not present activity. They presuppose challenges to faithfulness will come, and that promise will be needed to undergird service when circumstances would otherwise deter us.

There’s no such thing as instant friends, which is why the Service of Marriage is in future tense. It’s not “John, do you (or have you previously found the opportunity to) love Susan?” It’s “Will you love …?” Promises propel into the future, putting one at the mercy of the vicissitudes of another’s life with little backup but a promise. Love as the fruit of marriage rather than (as most couples suppose) the cause is church wonderfully weird.
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The church makes couples promise to stay married “until death do us part.” Strange to bring up death when most couples I marry look like they’re in pretty good shape. Death intrudes into the service of marriage because the promises of marriage are one way of dealing with our temporality, clinch-fistedly saying to the future, “Take form me what you will, by God I’ll still be faithful to this person.” When we promise to love the unfathomable mystery that is another “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” we creatively deal with our radical contingency, promising constancy even amid the ravages of time.

Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 196, 197.


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Love Is Not Something We Fall Into, It Is A Rough And Rocky Hill Two People Commit To Climb Together (via Chad Bird)

Marriage, contrary to popular thought is not a dream within a dream.
It is a mutual commitment by two people to live as one for the the duration of their lives.
And if it was easy, why would we need promises to hold ourselves to it?

From Chad Bird:

That’s why love is not something we fall into; it’s a rough and rocky hill we commit ourselves to climb. Or, to change the metaphor, love is a story we decide to write together with another person. There will be paragraphs penned in the calligraphy of pure ecstasy, but there will also be chapters scribbled in pain. The thing is, we don’t know what form or direction the narrative will take. The final chapter is not written until it’s lived. What we’re devoting ourselves to is not a fairy tale, not a thriller, not a bestseller, but a simple story of sacrifice for someone else. We for them and (hopefully) they for us. But because it is the account of two sinners sharing the same bed, bank account, and bathroom counter, the narrative will become terribly messy and convoluted at times. There will be entire sections we wish we could blot out. Heated and vitriolic dialogues that embarrass us. And, along the way, plenty of happy surprises as well. We’ll discover places in our hearts, and in the hearts of our beloved, that we didn’t even know existed. That’s the way stories unfold. Unpredictable. Boring. Beautiful. Ugly. Riveting. We’ll find all of this and more when we commit to writing a story with another person to whom we say, “I love you.”

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 128-129.


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Failing Into Love (via David Zahl)

David Zahl on grace in marriage from his book Seculosity.

Real love is not something we decide on. Nor is it something we earn. Love is more than something we fall into; it is something we fail into. What sounds like a somewhat more tragic view of life is actually a starting point for compassion, forgiveness, and joy. After all, we stand a better chance of loving our spouse (or neighbour) when we aren’t looking to them to do or be what they cannot do or be.
I think this is close to what the apostle John meant when he spoke of God being love. The love of God, as we seen borne out in the life and death of Jesus Christ, seems to assume from the outset that we are all severely handicapped in our ability to love other people, let alone our Creator. And yet, like a shepherd going after a lost sheep, it persists. It does not insist on proof of lovability but produces it.

David Zahl, Seculosity, Fortress Press, 2019, pg. 37.


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Sharing Their First Meal

Craig and Gemma.

The joy and privilege of be among those to share their first meal as husband and wife.

May the joy of this day savour their life together.


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Happiness Is Not A Goal In Itself, It Is The Product Of Seeking The Right Goals (via Sammy Rhodes)

The pursuit of happiness will be futile if it is happiness itself which is being sought. Happiness can only be experienced as a fruit of seeking after that which endures.
Sammy Rhodes writes about modern relationships and the reasons they founder:

Wanting happiness isn’t a bad thing. It’s a human thing. The problem is that happiness is less something we can directly seek than it is a by-product of seeking the right things in the right ways. Happiness is like the endorphins that flow after a good workout. They’re a result of hunting another goal, not something you can get your hands on directly. They only come by working out. Or so I hear. I’m less a work-out guy, more a work—in guy. And by that I mean most days I like to work on getting an entire bag of chips inside me.
Jesus told us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his’ righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Blessings, like happiness, come as we focus our eyes on something other than those blessings. Jesus is teaching us here to think less like consumers and more like himself a covenant—making and covenant—keeping God. If Jesus had let happiness determine his choices, the cross would have never happened. Jesus’ choices were driven by his covenant promises, first to God, then to us.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 93-94.