I once lend a listening ear to a good friend contemplating divorcing her husband. There had been endless disagreements. Often it’s in arguments over trivial matters that suggest a marriage unworkable. I shared that divorce is like a back door out of a room. It should never have been there.
When a married couple enter into an argument, the only way they must come out of it is through the door of resolution. Divorce must never be an option in a couple’s mind. When it is, it becomes like a back door out of the room. We won’t use it immediately but we know it is there. Just knowing it is there is enough for it to gradually play on our minds. When arguments grow, there will be a growing temptation to use the back door rather than the door of resolution.
When a couple sit down to discuss their disagreements knowing fully well that divorce is out of question, they will at least begin in agreement that a solution must be found. This too plays on the mind. It will be tough but the absence of the back door will mean that there will be an accommodative spirit of compromise.
“From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body”. (today’s Gospel)
When marital vows are exchanged, they are, in truth, for life. There are no ‘buts’ but a lifelong commitment of two people becoming one. Holy matrimony is this journey. Two can become one simply by accommodating each other. Two persons are incredibly different but two persons can incredibly be one over time when they want to understand and accept each other. And these begin in small, seemingly trivial matters. When they do this, they grow into one another, gradually more united, eventually two becoming one. Marriages last because true love accommodates.
The institution of marriage has been greatly devalued. Divorces have been on the rise especially in affluent societies. One of the reasons for this is that self-importance has grown like an epidemic. Two becoming one requires self-giving not self-importance. Marriages should never be for self-benefit. Otherwise, the back door will always beckon.
“They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide”. (today’s Gospel)
This is God’s law for all marriages. Simply put, divorce is not an option. As we grow in our self-importance, we also grow in our bravery to question the rights of God to interfere in our personal life. God does not rule like a human leader for the sake of authority but his laws are made for the love of us. God is infinitely wiser than me and you. Without his laws to govern our self-importance, man will head towards division, our human person towards a major meltdown. This law protects us, not God.
Christ is the bridegroom and we, his church, the bride. He gave himself totally to us.
Constant self-giving erodes self-importance. It gives life to a marriage. Marital bliss is not a fantasy but a growing fruit as two become one. Having a back door to get out will doom it to failure. More than 10 years on after my friend shut the back door, she is enjoying marital bliss.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time