good words on marriage from lauren winner
when i heard that books and culture was producing an issue on marriage, i winced. because of my geographical location as well as my occupation i have heard evangelicals proclaim that 'the sky is falling' on good, godly, traditional marriage one too many times. fortunately, books and culture upended my expectations by publishing this excellent article by lauren winner.
i assume that, on occasion, you find 'excerpt entries' quite annoying. i know that i do. however, one of the purposes of this blog is to keep a record of insights, excerpts and websites that i find interesting. so, even if you hate excerpt entries, i hope that you'll bear with me now and again. now, without further qualification, let's hear what winner, one of evangelicalism's finest young writers, has to say...
"And, yet, marriage is meant to be communal as well as couple-centered both in its means and its meanings. At the most practical level, it is our friends, our brothers and sisters in the church, our aunts and uncles and colleagues, who can remind us why we got married in the first place. It is this community that, when we lay our marriages bare before them, are able to hold us accountable, and also celebrate with us...If we Christians want to get our divorce rates down below the national average, rendering our marriages visible to our communities—opening ourselves up to our friends' support, prayers, questions, and rebuke—would be a good place to start.
But recalling the communal dimension of marriage is not merely a strategy for sticking it out and navigating the rough patches. It is rather an assertion of God's purposes for marriage. Our surrounding society tells us that marriage is a private endeavor, that what happens between husband and wife behind closed doors is no one else's concern. But in the Christian grammar, marriage is not only for the married couple. Insofar as marriage tells the Christian community a particular story, marriage is for the community. It reminds us of the communion and community that is possible between and among people who have been made new creatures in Christ. And it hints at the eschatological union between Christ and the Church. As Catholic ethicist Julie Hanlon Rubio has put it, "marriage consists not simply or even primarily of a personal relationship. Rather, it crystallizes the love of the larger church community. The couple is not just two-in-one, but two together within the whole, with specific responsibility for the whole. … They must persevere in love, because the community needs to see God's love actualized among God's people.
The inflections of community are important because they get at the very meanings of marriage. Marriage is a gift God gives the church. He does not simply give it to the married people of the church, but to the whole church, just as marriage is designed not only for the benefit of the married couple. It is designed to tell a story to the entire church, a story about God's own love and fidelity to us."