Nothing divides them either in flesh or in spirit. They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another.
Side by side they visit God’s church and partake God’s banquet, side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations.
They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts. In seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present.”
— Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, (160-220 AD)
During a recent bout of insomnia, I was watching one of those escapist martial arts action films. You know the type, the kind where one guy can take on a roomful of assailants without sustaining any significant injury and still have enough wind to make a few sarcastic wisecracks at the expense of his antagonists.
So, as I‘m watching this, one quip in particular suddenly elicits a hearty chuckle from me.
The hero executes a dazzling and seemingly impossible move to save the fair maiden at the very last instance. The comic sidekick, rapt with wonder, gasps: “How did you do that?”
With a toothy grin, the hero responds: “It wasn’t easy.”
I like that: “It wasn’t easy.” Masterful understatement! It reminds me of that old t-shirt slogan: “It’s hard to be modest when you’re as awesome as I am.”
The reason I’m bringing this up is that I had a conversation with an old friend of mine who, when realizing that Saturday, Sept. 4 was my 11th wedding anniversary, expressed sincere amazement.
“Wow!” he said. “How did y’all do it?”
Quickly sensing a rare opportunity to be clever, I flashed a wry smile and said: “It wasn’t easy.”
But I am telling you the truth, my marriage has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.
Candace is a remarkable woman, and I like to think I’m a pretty cool dude, but you would be surprised how much two headstrong people can try the patience of each other.
Or maybe you wouldn’t. Chances are that most of you reading this are or have been married and/or divorced, and know exactly what I’m taking about.
I think relationships are one of the most demanding aspects of human existence, which is probably why even God saved it for last. Of course, that didn’t exactly work out too well either.
At the same time, I can hardly think of anything more important than marriage, especially a good one.
Whatever your politics, there can be no doubting that marriage is the foundation for human society. This can be supported empirically, metaphysically, or even anecdotally.
From marriage, ideally, comes each successive generation by which a civilization either flourishes or withers. The ethics and morality bequeathed from parents to children is what they will then perpetuate to those that follow. What a child learns, so too does he or she teach.
If one might wonder at the success or failure of a culture, they need only study the state of marriage and how children are raised, to have an answer for whatever questions they might ask.
Aside from this, I can hardly think of anything better to help self-centered “guys” become real men. To learn what it is to truly seek the good of another, and not merely that of yourself.
I was a selfish, headstrong, and puerile youth who, standing before God, my dearest friends and family members, swore to love-honor-and-cherish another. For richer or poorer, in sickness and health, as long as we both shall live.
Looking back at the last eleven years, we have had a measure of each, and challenges that neither of us could have ever imagined.
We have gone to bed facing opposite ways, and said things to each other we both soon came to regret. There were plenty “dark nights of the Soul” where neither of us were sure we could stay together another day, but we did.
In the time that has passed thus far, I marvel at from where I have been brought and yet how much further I have to go.
But in this time, I have learned what it is to love a woman.
In this, I have the reward of a lifetime.