Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A beautiful meditation on the blessings of marriage

An email from a friend:

Marriage, the unique sexual union of a man and woman, explaining why it is called “the act of marriage,” is the only relationship to make it out of the Garden. In that way it is a common grace, an undeserved blessing that is bestowed on everyone without their having earned it, like the rain that falls on the fields of both the righteous and the unrighteous. Even those who are not married enjoy some of the bounty of the fruitfulness that marriage has produced, and still produces, in the world. And children, in particular, benefit broadly and deeply from growing under the shade and nurture of the man and woman whose sexual union produced them.

Oh, but you say, “I do not believe in God, and I reject the notion that marriage is a blessing somehow formed, or conceived of, by God.” No one can truly believe in God on behalf of another. But the case for the unique definition and place of marriage does not rest only on such a belief. Evidence abounds that, like the rain, marriage is associated with good outcomes for those who enter into it or are committed to it. The evidence is overwhelmingly positive in this regard. And is that not exactly what we would expect to be the case, if marriage had, for sake of argument, been created as the one foundationally sound human relationship, “good,” indeed “very good,” as it were?

And this is not to say that effort plays no role in the success of marriage. To be sure, marriage, like everything else in the world we have now has been singed, tainted, damaged. Marriage has produced heartache as well as joy. With all due respect to Joni Mitchell, we will never truly get back to the Garden. There is, and will be, no “perfect” marriage because there are no perfect people. But marriage still in actual life, the highest plateau upon which to live out a committed sexual union relationship.

We recognize that, like the variations in the rain, the blessings of marriage are not entirely uniform or predictable. Nor does marriage flourish without diligence, dedication, sacrifice and love. This rule applies to nearly every human endeavor, from the attainment of Olympic gold to the mere satisfaction of a “job well done” to the even more significant successful raising of a child. So too we know that the farmer’s fields will not produce a uniform harvest, or that only by planting the seed will he guarantee the success of his crop. As we would think a fool the farmer that disclaims the rain for his fields, so might it not also be foolish to jettison the very meaning of what marriage is and always has been known to be?

Citizens of California, think clearly, act wisely, affirm the unique sexual relationship of marriage resoundingly.

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