Marriage is martyrdom too
Some insights from the marriage seminar last night…
Addressing the issue of what marriage is to begin with is something I’ve done in the past and I’ll not rehash that here and now – suffice to say that if we view it as a legal contract done before God and the state, then we are going to run into problems. From the Orthodox perspective, marriage is a Holy Mystery, which has less to do with companionship, and much more to do with salvation. Marriage, like many things at varying levels, is a path to salvation.
If the husband and wife understand this from the outset, it will hopefully inspire an attitude in which we enter into matrimony knowing that it is a cross to bear. We need to be very aware of the fact that we live in a society in which it seems the primary goal in life is to bear no crosses…to live fully cross-free. If we fall into this lie, then we begin to believe – along with most of the world today - that anytime our marriage feels like a cross, then something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Hence, the foundation of most marital counseling is born - fix it.
In the Orthodox wedding service (as Jeremy and Katherine have no doubt become recently familiar), the bride and the groom take part in a crowning ceremony in which the couple both receive crowns – the crowns of martyrs. In no small way, we ought to see the marriage ceremony as being a literal embracing of the cross we intend to bear.
In our spouses, God blesses us with a person we need in our lives in order to bring us to Theosis. The bad habits and actions of one, is an opportunity for ascetic living to the other and if viewed properly the marriage can and ought to become a wonderful cyclical dance in which the partners are working together even when it appears they are working against one another. Lord knows I give my wife plenty of opportunity to practice asceticism…but hopefully that will become less as I practice my own asceticism and we will both learn to see "bumps in the road" as a means of seizing the Kingdom.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:57 PM [+]