Sunday, November 2, 2008

Some thoughts on marriage

Why is it so important for us to define marriage as between one man and one woman? Why do we need to define it at all? Why is this seemingly narrow definition so important? My answer to this echoes something I read in Brother Adams’ booklet “Beyond the Veil”—“without definition, there is no meaning.”

Also, I would assert further that defining things and understanding definitions is imperative in order to learn the mysteries of godliness and gain specific knowledge of God. When God teaches us anything by the Spirit, He always makes it perfectly clear to us. He explains according to our understanding, using our language, our terms, our words. In order for us to receive mysteries based upon definitions, our definitions must be correct, thorough, and extremely solid. He can’t teach us a mystery if our foundational understanding is in error in some way, otherwise we’ll fight it. He also can’t teach us mysteries if our definitional understanding of the concept involved is too limited for us to grasp the idea, otherwise we won’t get it. And He can’t teach us if we’re uncertain, otherwise we’d be overwhelmed. I think this is why it is always useful to talk about definitions of gospel principles, so those definitions can be corrected, expanded, and cemented in our minds to prepare us for the mysteries that will be built upon them.

We need this definition of marriage to give a starting point for who can be married. With society so confused as to whether same-sex relationships can or can’t be constituted as marriage, clearly this is a matter where revelation from God is needed. Surely God would be the best authority for this issue. We have prophets today that declare that marriage between a man and a woman is divinely approved and sanctioned by God. This is a clear message. The prophets who spread this message have not made this up. It may look like they are social reactionaries who are just scared of change and they are cloaking their discomfort with an imagined message from God, but that is not the case. They have had this revelation, and they had it more than a decade before this issue came to the front, showing that God forewarns the world through the prophets. They ARE prophets.

But back to marriage. There are godly mysteries of marriage that must certainly be eluding the world today, judging from the number of divorces. How many people are truly prepared for marriage? How do we even know if we are prepared to handle the problems along with the joys? Marriage is not all “happily ever after”. There are the day-to-day family duties, the big decisions that must be made, the sudden challenges that seem to bash in uninvited, and the differences of opinion that are revealed. Handling all of that takes a lot of effort in a marriage.

As a teenage girl growing up, I anticipated someday getting married, and I was very interested in finding someone to love. I was a weird teenager though. While I imbibed the usual media message about “happily ever after”, somehow I knew that there would be difficulties. I ran across the marriage advice column regularly featured in Parent magazine and I loved to read about the troubles married couples had, read about the solutions presented by the counselor, and think about how those troubles could have been avoided in the first place. My reasoning was that if I knew ahead of time how to nip problems in the bud or how to communicate without alienating my husband, then that would prevent a lot of problems from ever appearing. My parents collected a lot of books about marriage and I liked to read them from time to time. Yes, I was a weird teenager. I studied marriage problems to learn problem-solving and problem-prevent skills.

What I learned has served me very well in my seven years of marriage. Our marriage is by no means perfect, but it is substantially smoother than it would have been had I not read what I had. You know how they say that the first year of marriage is usually the hardest? It didn’t seem like that to me.

But I’m going to have to start studying marriage problems and solutions again. I want to improve. Maybe I’ll check out a few books from the library or look online. Actually, since I know solutions are always found in the gospel, I need to think about what I will read in terms of using gospel principles better in my marriage.