On the Christian forum where I post a lot, a woman wrote that the purpose of marriage is:
“The perfect harmony of mind, body, and spirit”
So, failing to achieve that, what? Most agree that our culture has created a level of expectation for marriage that is a bit Lisa Frank. Well, the church has gone Tim the Tool Man on that, adding horsepower, size, and noise.
Where better but the Bible to find idealism and apply it to the real world and make it not a sort of goal, but a rigid standard?
What is the difference?
A goal, such as love God and love people, is just that, a goal, a guiding principle objective. Its not something to measure ones self against, rather its something to strive for. To see it as a standard is like a professional bowler expecting a score of 300 all the time; you work and work, practice long and hard, and in practicing, you focus on the techniques that when added together COULD result in the perfect score. But you know that there are things outside your control that will prevent a career of perfect scores, that the scores will ebb and flow. The perfect score is a goal, but not a standard of success or failure. To take that analogy to marriage then, if the professional bowler bowled less than 300 a sufficient number of times, it should be time to reevaluate bowling itself (Is the marriage worth keeping?), and maybe change sports (Serial Monogamy) or quit them altogether(Get a cat.), if perfection isn’t achieved, you failed. That’s how viewing marriage through the quote above, as a standard and not a goal, leads to dissatisfaction and divorce.
Imagine if those around the professional bowler were to constantly remind them, verbally, “we are called to be bowling 300”, as a way to ostensibly encourage them, or worse, hold them to account. A coach, repeatedly pointing out after a game of 290, and the bowlers mastery of some new technique, “but the goal is to bowl 300”, how would that motivate the bowler?
That’s where we are in the church, from the woman’s perspective. They are at once taught that marriage should look like whats stated above, and that it CAN be that way, if we can just get the men on board. By teaching the men female techniques, and by putting up side rails against male proclivities, the wife can experience that apogee of marital bliss. Her nature, her tendency to change the meaning of oneness in “mind, body, and spirit” by day, by hour, by moment, is not acknowledged. Oneness is in flux, the man breathlessly following her ever evolving and changing need to feel safe, which is in other words, to feel oneness, perfection, nirvana.
Reality is gritty, rough, upsetting, discouraging, and Christianity in truth addresses life as such. But somehow its become more a standard than a goal for women, relationally. Ironically meanwhile the church has moved further from recognizing standards for actual behavior and sin choices. Permissive in sin, idealistic in relationship…see choices women make based on the relational standard that should be a goal, to behaviorally sin, versus actual Biblical standards (divorce, serial monogamy, hypergamy).
In so many ways I am dragged back to the notion that the Christian faith has become, for women, just another pie in the sky place to dwell in fairy tail expectations of how we are “called to live”.