Thursday, July 29, 2010
faith and marriage
Our friends Dan and Kristen were married on July 17. What a beautiful day it was! I had the honor of doing the homily for their wedding ceremony. Following is the text. I hope you enjoy reading it and that it helps you in some way.
Faith and Marriage
a homily by Troy Cady
Life is filled with many leaping off points that require faith. Some leaping off points are quite big: the start of a new job, the move to a new country or the birth of a child. The truth is: every day is a leaping off point. Today is no exception. Today, Dan and Kristen, you are taking a leap that will result in one of the biggest adventures of your life (if not the biggest adventure). This is partly because 3,063 days from now the same amount of faith will be needed to sustain your marriage. The date will be December 7, 2018. You will have been married 8 years, 4 months and 20 days. On that day, believe it or not, you will encounter another leaping off point. It will look very different than today's leaping off point. It will look something like this: You will be at Home Depot and you will get on each other’s nerves because you can’t agree whether you should buy a sponge mop or a rag mop.
Dan will say something like: "But Kristen, blah blah blah blah blah, sponge mop, blah blah blah blah blah."
And she'll say something like: "Yes, but yada yada yada, rag mops, yada yada yada yada yada, GUZZARDO!"
This is a very important topic.
And, believe it or not, this is where faith comes in. If faith can’t help you in the everyday leaping off points it certainly won’t help anyone on days like today. To speak of faith in God today is useless if you are not committed to live by faith in God on December 7, 2018. Dan and Kristen, you have indicated in your pre-marital counseling that you want your marriage to be based on faith. To understand what this entails, though, you must understand what faith is and how it plays out every day of our lives.
The Bible book of Hebrews says that “faith is…the evidence of things not seen.” The 19th century Scottish preacher George MacDonald clarifies this text by pointing out that, rightly understood, the Scriptures state that faith “proves the unseen.” In other words, faith is the way we put life’s many uncertainties to the test to see if they really are true.
Now, let’s face it: When it comes to the place of God in your marriage, we must admit that God himself is one of those uncertainties. No one can prove God is real apart from faith. In fact, faith is the proof that God is real because faith is the way you put to test such a notion. We do this every day. We step out into the invisible banking on the notion that there is something unseen by which we may live. And, when we do step out like that, we can say first-hand: “Oh my goodness, there was something there all along that I might have missed if I had just stood there doing nothing.” Faith is acting as if something is true when you don’t have any proof ahead of time that it’s true—and in that act you discover: it’s true, it’s really true!
Now, what does this have to do with marriage (and any relationship, for that matter)? Many things. I'll mention a few:
First, faith is what causes you to keep fighting for your relationship when the going gets tough. When you have no proof that your relationship is worth fighting for, faith is what will keep you going. It will help you get through the rough times and keep you together.
Faith is also what reminds you there will always be far more about each other that you don’t know than you do know. Relationships based on faith are, therefore, marked by curiosity about each other because you are continually reminded that the other person is a mystery to be explored. This curious exploration then produces genuine togetherness as opposed to mere stuck-togetherness. Stuck-togetherness is motivated by fear; it demands that the other be just like you. But faith-based togetherness is voluntary. 3,063 days from now it says, “I choose you all over again.” Togetherness in a marriage based on faith is non-coercive, liberating and freely trusting; it respects the uniqueness and therefore dignifies the humanity in each other.
This not-knowing-but-stepping-out faith also infuses life with adventure. It is invigorating because it is risky and when you live this way you discover first-hand that all of life is a risk that requires faith. The person that has lost faith has lost life.
Dan and Kristen, today is a day of life because today is a leap of faith. It shouldn't startle us to know that all weddings are risk-taking events. Indeed, this is partly why we find them so interesting--because we know that when we get into arguments 8+ years from now it will still be a time for faith. It will be a time to say, “I don’t have any proof right now that this annoying person loves me or that I love this person but I’m going to act as if it’s all true anyway.” It is only from that posture of faith that we find the capacity to extend grace and even laugh at ourselves for being so crazy as to argue about rag mops or ragamuffins. See? Faith is what makes love for each other possible because faith is what keeps you together in the first place.
And with specific reference to God, faith in marriage together says, “There is so much more to be discovered about God together.”
For the Christian, faith in God in the context of marriage leads you to say together, “I don’t fully grasp what Jesus’ death is all about but I’m going to act as if he died because he loves me and his death has something to do with my being forgiven and free; it has to do with him forgiving others and with me forgiving others, too.” And through that faith, you find the capacity to forgive one another when you hurt one another. Through that faith, forgiveness becomes a cornerstone of your marriage.
But it doesn’t stop there. It gets even better, because faith in the Christian God together says, “I can’t really prove that someone long ago died and then actually came back to life, but I’m going to act in my marriage as if it’s true. And I’m going to act as if, somehow by having faith in Jesus, he lives inside me and enables me to resurrect dead things outside me.” It's that kind of faith that will give you the capacity to keep fighting for your marriage when you feel like it's dying. And in the shadow of the resurrection, you discover ever-fresh life 3,063 days from now.
See: When you live this way, basing your whole life on faith, you’ll put all these things to the test to see if they’re really true or not. It’s a bit scary because... what if you're wrong? But here's the deal: it’s worth it because what if it is true and you do nothing? Well, you miss out on what makes life worth living. You miss out on the greatest things ever. So, here’s to not missing out. Here's to what today is all about: grabbing hold of life. Here’s to the big leap you’re taking today and to the leap you’ll take 3,063 days from now. Here’s to proving the unseen. Here’s to living by faith.