Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Off-Topic Classes and Traditional Marriage Vows

My graduate class gets sidetracked fairly often on various subjects.  Our professor emigrated from China to get his Ph.D., we have two female students from Saudi Arabia, one student whose family emigrated from Russia, and another from Vietnam.  The rest of the class is just normal home-grown kids.  One of the recent tangents we went off on was that of dating and marriage in various cultures. Our professor stated that he knew his wife for years before getting married to her.  We learned (according to our Vietnamese classmate) that the average marrying age for a young woman in Korea is between 27-30, and that typically, they date for about 7 years before tying the knot.

A few students spoke up about how they think the divorce rate is so high because people are now getting married in their 20's (heaven forbid) after barely knowing their spouse for a year (that makes it the second strike for me).  As many of my classmates thought something like this was crazy, I decided to stay silent and not open  a porthole into my life.

Part of me regrets not doing that.

In a recent post on Christianity Today's Hermenutics blog, Catherine Parks wrote a glorious piece titled, "What Happened to Wedding Vows?"  As she reviews the traditional vows and compares them to the current trending ones (she uses the example of  once hearing "I will always peel your clementines for you,"), she finds them hollow and out of place.  I'll always peel your clementines?  How gracious. Thank you sosososoooooo much.

Is it possible really, to bind yourself to someone for richer or poorer, for sickness or health?  God forbid that something terrible happen to Justin, but I do believe that if something did happen, I would walk through that with him.    Not by my own will, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Catherine makes a seemingly obvious statement, but I think it has been overlooked by too many people:

"We learn how to make and keep vows by looking at God."

What I chose to avoid was a conflict with my classmates.  I wanted the easy way out, not having to bring God into the situation.  Certainly the new trend of marriage vows isn't a cause of the divorce rate, it's simply that we foolish humans only want the richer and health parts of the vows, not the we-aren't-sure-if-we'll-make-rent-or-eat-next-week or the slow walk hand in hand with cancer and loss.  I know I don't want those.  Nothing in me desires those things.

But at the same time, what I want more than anything in my marriage, is faithfulness.  Justin and I chose to say traditional vows because they exemplify faithfulness--a promise we plan to hold on to until one or the other returns to Jesus.  It is one that our parents have said, our grandparents have said, so on and so forth.  We layered our promise upon the promises of our families before us.  And even before that, it was a promise of a good God to His wickedly rebellious people.  He is faithful, and that is the standard that we choose to compare our marriage to. do I explain that to a class that was already off-topic?

(Photo Credit:  Benjamin Haley of Avocado Images)