Tag Archives: marriage

Marriage, Market, and Politics in Middlemarch 

Note that the market here is not portrayed as destroying other values, like love and fidelity, as is often the case in both Marxist and conservative critiques, but as putting them on a realistic and stable foundation. Moreover, a successful life does not consist of throwing off authority or vindicating the authentic self, but in creating enduring associations with others. Middlemarch is thus a riposte to those who think that the essence of liberalism must loosen rather than strengthen the bonds of community and family.

And it is also clear that Eliot contrasts politics unfavorably with the market and a market infused family life. The story takes place in the shadow of the struggles to enact the Reform Bill — probably the most important democratizing act in British history, greatly expanding the franchise and making it more effective by eliminating or at least tempering rotten boroughs. But the people acting together without the bonds of market or familial associations are not portrayed favorably. When they condemn Dr. Lydgate, they are mostly motivated by malice and envy. Political actors are generally represented as quite self-interested. At the end of the book, some characters speculate how they can use the initial failure of the Reform Bill to get into the House of Lords. If the danger of marriage is that it will be built on illusions, however benevolent, the danger of politics is that it may rest on sheer malevolence.

Of course, Middlemarch is not a political tract. But Eliot makes important points about the relation of private life, public life, and the spirit of market liberalism that are as powerful today as they were when she wrote them almost 150 years ago.

Source: Law & Liberty

Mawage, that bwessed awangment…

Not sure how many of you have seen The Princess Bride but it’s the story of the search for true love. As a movie, TPB is delightful from beginning to end. As theology, however, it sometimes falls a little short. This is especially so in the film’s depiction of marriage.

For example (spoiler alert!), in the wedding scene, we hear marriage described as “a dream within a dream” (see the scene here). Likewise, the pursuit of “true love” becomes a justification for the hero being mistreated by the object of his affection.

To be fair, The Prince Bride is just a movie and a romantic comedy at that. Like other romcoms, it really holds itself out as offering nothing but escapist entertainment.

The challenge we face ministering to young people doesn’t come from movies, music or popular culture. Or at least, these don’t represent unique challenges. All cultures are fallen and so all culture send us (at best) mixed messages about the relationship between men and women and about marriage and family life.

Whatever the culture says—for good or ill—our task remains the same. We are asked by Christ to help young people understand the vocation of marriage and family life. A central part of this is helping them understand the Tradition of the Church so that, should the time come, they can rightly discern whether they have been called to marriage.

By its nature, Christian marriage isn’t simply a personal vocation (and all vocations are personal). It is also a call to marry a particular person. This makes it a shared vocation. No one has a vocation to be married in general. Christ calls a person to marry this person, at this time in their lives.

And they are called with the hope (as we hear in the Church’s prayer for the couple) that they will one day become parents:

Remember, O Lord our God, Your servant (Name) and Your servant (Name), and bless them. Give to them fruit of the womb, fair children, concord of soul and body. Exalt them as the cedars of Lebanon, and as well‑cultured vine; bestow on them a rich store of sustenance, so that having a sufficiency of all things for themselves, they may abound in every good work that is good and acceptable before You. Let them behold their children’s children as newly planted olive trees round about their table; and, being accepted before You, let them shine as stars in the Heavens, in You, our Lord, to Whom are due all Glory, honor, and worship as to Your eternal Father, and Your All‑Holy, Good, and Life‑creating Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

While the love and affection that we see in popular culture is important, the vocation to Christian marriage is much more than simply two people falling in love and wanting to spend the rest of their lives together.

Marriage is also an ascetical struggle. Just as with monastic life, marriage and family life an arena for spiritual combat. Husband and wife, together, are called to struggle against sin so that “they may be worthy to attain unto a ripe old age” as the fruit of “keeping Your commandments in a pure heart.”

Christian marriage embrace not only the natural affections of the couple. Marriage in Christ must also be open to new life (children) as part of the couple’s shared commitment to work for each other’s salvation.

Finally, marriage in the Orthodox understanding is not simply for this life.

Another especially glorious aspect of Christ-centered marriage is that it is meant to last forever – indeed, for all those who enter into the Heavenly Kingdom, every relationship formed in this life will continue in the next life, in a deeply healed and purified way.  Just as Christ will be married to His Church eternally in unbroken continuity, with each believer experiencing the unity of his or her marriage with Christ more and more in the timeless eternity of the life in Heaven, so too a Christian marriage is meant to last forever (David C. Ford, “The Glory and Honor of Marriage,” in Glory and Honor: Orthodox Christian Resources on Marriage (SVS Press, 2016), pp. 38-39).

Love, children, ascetical struggle, these are all essential aspects marriage in Christ. And these elements are all at the service of helping the couple become a living sacrament of Christ love for the Church. Or in the words of the Apostle Paul, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32, NKJV).

Our tasking in explaining marriage to young people, then, isn’t simply a matter of discussing sexual morality or healthy communication skills. These have their place but they aren’t the point of  As youth ministers and catechists Christ asking us to do something greater.

Christ is asking you to help Him set the foundation that will help the young person in your class to be ready, willing and able, to enter into life as a living expression of Christ’s love for the Church.

Who’s up for the challenge?

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Marriage & Parenthood

Remember the song? First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby carriage. The data suggests that this order is best for all concerned, children and parents. 

… children born to a cohabiting couples are about twice as likely to experience a parental breakup by age 12 as children born to married parents. This is true even for children born to more educated cohabiting mothers. 

For more go here

St. Paisios on marital strife and complementarity

From the blog Orthognosia

Elder Paisios said:

A man came to my cottage once, telling me how depressed he was, because of the disputes he had with his wife. However, I didn’t find any serious problem. He frowned because of something, and his wife frowned about something else, so they couldn’t join together. In this case a little “furnishing” was necessary. As an example, we can take unfurnished planks. One has a knot in one place, the other one has a knot on another place, and if you try to put them together, an empty space will appear between. But, if you equalize and furnish one of the planks on one side, and the same is done with the other plank with the same furnishing tool, they quickly fit with each other, and there is no empty space between. (Elder Paisios considered that the married couple should have one common spiritual father, who will help them in the reconciliation of their disputes.)

Some men say: “I am not compatible to my wife, we are totally different characters! Why does God make such strange things? Couldn’t God harmonize the married partners, so their characters be the same or similar, and so that they could live in spiritual togetherness?”

I tell them: “Don’t you understand that God’s harmony lies in the different characters? Different characters harmonize each other. God save you from being the same characters! Imagine that both of you have the same character, what would happen if both of you grew angry: you would destroy your house. Or, if both of you would be gentle and inactive, both would start sleeping on each others feet! If both of you would be stingy, you would be similar and you would agree among each other, but both of you would go to hell. If both of you would be squanderers, would you be able to save your house? No. You would demolish your house, and your children would end up on the street.

If one has a bad temper, and marries one with a bad temper, they will be the same or similar, won’t they? But, they would kill each other in only one day!

God created so that the gentle and nice partner is to marry someone different, give him help, because it might be he always has had good will, but there was no one to help him, since he was born.”

Even little differences in our characters may help the partners to form a harmonic family, because they supplement each other. You need an accelerator pedal to move your car forward, but still you need the brake pedal to stop when needed. If there would be a car with only a brake pedal, it would stay in one place for good. If there would be a gear-box but no brakes, the car wouldn’t stop.

Do you know what I once told a couple? “You do not fit with each other, because you fit too much with each other!” Both were oversensitive. Something would happen in the house. He was a bit confused saying: “Oh, what will happen to poor us?” Then she would say the same: “Oh, what will happen to poor us?” They were helping each other to fall more quickly in desperation. Couldn’t she, in opposition, calm down her husband saying: “Wait, it’s not so terrible what happened to us.” I have noticed this in many marriages.

And, in the education of their children, when different characters, the partners are always helping each other to give the right education to their children. The one says: “Let’s give the kids a bit more freedom”, and the other one brakes a bit. If both are strict, they will lose the children. But also, if both are too liberal, they will again lose them. When different, they are able to keep their children in balance.

What I want to say is that everything in marriage is necessary. Of course, we must take care not to over cross the borders, but we must have in mind that every person may help the other; people are here to help each other.

h/t: byztex.blogspot.com | Friday, July 31, 2015