Is marriage bliss? No, bliss is fantasy. It is what thrill seekers alway need yet never find. It is what makes hallucinogens appealing to some people. It is charismatic experience in and of itself. It does not make you who God intends on making you.
Before I was married I heard someone, somewhere say, “Marriage is sanctification”. I think there was a book written on this subject that was being discussed. Although I was not part of the conversation, nor can I remember who said it, I kept that saying. After being married for a little over six months I am beginning to understand it. It is not as scary as it sounds. Actually, it is as beautiful and amazing as I suspected it might be when I heard it.
God sanctifies us through marriage by putting two people–like sharp, jagged pieces of glass–next to each other so that the consistent nearness wears away those edges of selfishness, narcissism, self-consciousness, false idealism, anger, and other vices. As we begin to live less for ourselves as individuals, and more for ourselves as two people in a life long covenant, we begin to see an evolution that I do not think can take place alone.
Yesterday my wife and I observed Ash Wednesday together. For both of us, who were raised Pentecostal, we were taught by our parents that this is a “Catholic thing” (not that I have any problem with that). We decided it is more than a distinctive of Catholicism or some forms of Protestantism. It is an ancient tradition that connects us with believers before us. We are excited about embarking on a Lent journey, together, toward Easter Sunday. This is an experience that we are sharing together. We are learning what it means to be Christians as a couple. We are discussing what is important to us; what is essential to our religion.
Can marriage be tough? Sure! All good things are tough. This should not scare us. Neither should the idea of being sanctified. The Holy Spirit makes us into the image of Christ who is the image of God. In marriage we have the opportunity to mature in a way that can be a model to the world around us of the love of Christ for his church and his church for him.
Do some marriages fail? Of course, but this is no reason to betray this beautiful institution and rite. In fact, it should motivate us even more to fight for its survival. We cannot let culture dictate to us what it means to be loyal to a covenant. We must let that comes from God alone. When we hear the Word of God on this matter we realize that we said, “Until death do us part” and as much as is within our ability and strength we must maintain this public confession.
I am finding marriage to be even better than I thought it would be. No, it is not bliss. It is sanctification. It is the means by which God continues to change me into the person I am to become. And I get to do this next to someone I love. When we think of it this way, I’d rather have sanctification than bliss any day.