In Dependence Dei
We were interviewed for a video to be given to our friends, Socrates and Sophia, on their wedding day over a decade ago. Married couples were asked what advice they would give to the soon-to-be newlyweds. We later received a copy of the video and heard the responses of the many couples who were interviewed. Most gave sincere wishes for happiness and the usual uncontroversial observations were offered. Donna and I laughed when we saw our interview.
We sounded like helicopter parents preparing their kids to leave home for the first time. “Look both ways before you cross the altar. Don’t be selfish, remember to share with the others. Behave yourselves, someone is always watching. Don’t be afraid, you’re not alone.” What we really were saying was, marriage is hard. It is a mature decision. Donna often says marriage is the best and the hardest thing she has ever done. I agree; it’s been very hard on her! Look both ways before you cross the altar.
The thoughts we shared on marriage really weren’t our own ideas. We had studied these concepts just a few years earlier as we prepared for our own wedding day. A man and woman get married before witnesses. It is a public commitment. It doesn’t stop being a public commitment once the open-bar closes at the reception.
The married couple commits themselves to producing a fruitful union. This is partly done through being open to life and children. They can also produce enduring fruit by the stability which their marriage gives society and the miraculous multiplicity of abundance that the grace from the sacrament of matrimony provides. Don’t be selfish, remember to share with the others.
I still remember the look on the videographer’s face when we started to talk about our expectations of Socrates and Sophia. Sure, much of married life is no one’s business but the married couple – and God. We’ll get to that. However, the marriage itself is the responsibility of all those present on the wedding day and all the rest of us, too. I remember during the video interview that we said something like: “You will not fail on our watch.” You would think by the expression of surprise on the videographer’s face that we had said something like: “We will beat you like rented mules!” Behave yourselves, someone is always watching.
This brings us to: Don’t be afraid, you are not alone. Marriage is an interdependent arrangement as we suggested earlier. The man, the woman, the fruit of the union, society, etc. are all independent individuals who cannot thrive without a liberating dependence on each other and the One who created each one. A man and woman united in a sacramental marriage aren’t just a couple, they are a trinity. Any union independent of God is sure to be weaker and more vulnerable when it depends on itself alone and the fleeting conventions of the day.
Socrates and Sophia gave us some sad news recently. By the grace of God, Donna and I are the only couple on that video who are still married. Our country proudly celebrates Independence Day in the near future. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are still worth defending. But, it is a fight we will lose if we seek independence without a humble dependence on the Creator who endowed us with them. Happy, healthy, holy marriages are the foundation of civil society. Weaken the foundation and society crumbles. Depend on it.