My lovely wife and I celebrated eleven years of marriage with a quiet dinner last Friday evening at a local winery’s restaurant. As we reflected thankfully on God’s faithfulness to us over the years, we were also saddened to think of friends and acquaintances whose marriages have been damaged or even destroyed in the last decade. We are so grateful for God’s grace in our marriage that has helped deepen our love and commitment.
As I speak with peers, co-workers and even fellow Christians, I am surprised by how frequently people are willing to ignore teachings about proper roles in marriage and thus set themselves up for disappointment at best, frustration and grief at worst.
I have recently been quite taken with the writings of Robert Farrar Capon (whose cookbook, The Supper of the Lamb, I highly recommend). He is theologically suspect at times, but he has a clear gift for finding poetic analogies for Biblical truth. I’ll end this entry with a quotation from his 1965 book on marriage “Bed and Board” that I think gives a beautiful image of roles in marriage:
"The reason the headship of the husband is so violently objected to is that it is misunderstood…There are no second-class citizens in the New Jerusalem. It is husbands and wives that are unequal. In marriage…they enter into a relationship of superior to inferior—of head to body. And the difference there is not one of worth, ability or intelligence, but of role. It is functional, not organic. It is based on the exigencies of the Dance, not on a judgment as to talent. In the ballet, in any intricate dance, one dancer leads, the other follows. Not because one is better (he may or may not be), but because that is his part. Our mistake, here as elsewhere, is to think the equality and diversity are irreconcilable. The common notion of equality is based on the image of the march. In a parade, really unequal beings are dressed alike, given guns of identical length, trained to hold them at the same angle, and ordered to keep step with a fixed beat. But it is not the parade that is true to life; it is the dance. There you have real equals assigned unequal roles in order that each may achieve his individual perfection in the whole. Nothing is less personal than a parade; nothing more so than a dance. It is the choice image of fulfillment through function, and it comes very close to the heart of the Trinity. Marriage is a hierarchical game played by co-equal persons. Keep that paradox and you move in the freedom of the Dance; alter it, and you grow weary with marching."
May all our marriages be lived in the freedom and glory of the Dance!