Wendy Plump has written an article for the New Yorker about the consequences of breaking one’s marriage vows. As Justin Taylor observed, in a post with the title The Empty Horror of an Extra-Marital Affair, it is not pleasant reading.
However, in a culture that continually spins the lie that there are not consequences to sin, unpleasant reading is needed. Plump concludes:
IN the end your marriage may not need to be trashed, though mine was. The affairs metastasized in our relationship from the inside out. By the time all was said and done, there was little left to save. Our marriage had become like a leaf eaten away by caterpillars, where the petiole and midrib remain with some ghostly connective tracery in between. Not enough to hold even a drop of rain.
I look at my parents and at how much simpler their lives are at the ages of 75, mostly because they haven’t marred the landscape with grand-scale deceit. They have this marriage of 50-some years behind them, and it is a monument to success. A few weeks or months of illicit passion could not hold a candle to it.
If you imagine yourself in such a situation, where would you fit an affair in neatly? If you were 75, which would you rather have: years of steady if occasionally strained devotion, or something that looks a little bit like the Iraqi city of Fallujah, cratered with spent artillery?
From where I stand now, it all just looks like a cheap hotel room, whether you’re in that room to have an affair or to escape from the discovery of one.
Read the whole thing here.
Whether it is in our marriages, church, or workplace, a small effort can lead to a spiral of positive outcomes. Even a kiss can make a big difference. In their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath share:
Small targets lead to small victories, and small victories can often trigger a positive spiral of behavior. Marriage therapist Michele Weiner-Davis wrote about her clients Paula and George, who’s been married for eight years but had been fighting consistently for the previous two. Weiner-Davis had been counseling the couple for a while, and they’d made some progress but nothing dramatic. Then came the breakthrough–a kiss.
One morning, George kissed Paula. The kiss surprised her, caught her off guard a little, and made her happy. Being happy prompted her to do a little thing she hadn’t done in a while: She brewed a pot of coffee. “We used to drink coffee together often, but lately the tradition has fallen by the wayside,” she told the therapist.
George smelled the coffee and came down for a cup. He and Paula had a pleasant conversation. . . George’s kiss launched a positive spiral.
Why did such a little thing matter so much? Because it generated hope that change was possible.
Now at this point, someone will proudly think, “Well, I kiss my spouse every day.”
Good for you.
Except, if you kiss your spouse every day it doesn’t count, not for change anyway. Don’t get me wrong. It is a good thing if you kiss your spouse every day. You really should. But what you do every day doesn’t promise change. It is expected.
So keep kissing (if you are applying this to marriage). But think creatively about a small change you can make at work or at home that promises hope. Clean the bathroom. Gas your spouse’s car. Buy flowers. Or maybe change the kiss up a little? Make it memorable! Either way, do something small and unexpected that promises change.
But then don’t go and ruin it by complaining the other party didn’t notice. You can’t demand an immediate result. Whine that it was unnoticed and it will be worse than if you didn’t do it in the first place. Keep looking for small ways to promise change. Surprise people close to you across the years. You never know when a positive spiral of behavior might result.
Pastors who marched in the civil rights movement have a message for President Obama.
Christianity Today reports the story of a New Mexico wedding photographer who was successfully sued for refusing on religious grounds to photograph a lesbian wedding.
In 2006, Vanessa Willock asked Elane Photography in Albuquerque to photograph her same-sex commitment ceremony. Elane declined because it photographs only traditional weddings, not same-sex weddings. Willock filed and won a claim with the commission, alleging that she was discriminated against based on her sexual orientation.
Mike Wittmer writes in reference to this story, “The worm is turning exceedingly fast, and it’s worth asking who is discriminating against whom. It seems that it’s possible for homosexuals to hate too.”
If gay marriage is simply a basic natural right, of course — the formal legal expression of our right to love as we wish — it shouldn’t be up for reconsideration under any circumstances. This is a widespread view of wedlock, and it may already be the dominant one. But Regnerus’s study is a reminder of why marriage has traditionally been regarded as something other than just a celebration of love and a signifier of civic equality, and why the rationale for the institution has involved a child’s rights to his or her biological parents as well as in two lovers’ rights to one another. Marriage’s purpose, in this sense, has not been just to validate the consenting adults who enter into it, but to provide support and recognition for a particular way of bearing and rearing children – one whose distinctive advantages remain apparent, even as that recognition declines and disappears.
Read the whole thing here.
One of the questions that I address in Unpacking Forgiveness is whether or not someone who has been divorced can remarry. Below, I give a brief answer to this question for Christianity.com. I hasten to say that anyone working through this decision should do so as a part of a local church with the input of his or her pastors and elders.
For the Gospel Coalition, M. Connor explains why her wedding was called off.
May 26, 2012. It was supposed to be a momentous occasion—the day I would walk down the aisle in my mother’s lace wedding gown, peonies in hand, best friend at my side, family and friends looking on with joy. It was supposed to be the day I started a new chapter, the day my dreams would be fulfilled. Little did I know, God had other plans.
We met in the winter of 2010—me and God, that is. He always had his eye on me, but I barely even knew who he was. Once I began spending time with him, our relationship blossomed into something special. He cared for me and loved me like no other. He filled a huge void in my heart.
That’s how I came to know God. It’s also how I came to know the man I thought I would marry.
The relationship started out like many others . . .
Read the rest here.