Friday, August 23, 2013

Bound

I'll be honest with you.  I listen to all kinds of music.  I like everything (except "music" that is just yelling and screaming and obscenities).  The kids and I often flip through radio stations as we travel around.  I do not like talk radio.  For some reason, talk on the radio gives me flashbacks to one of my professors at Mars Hill College.  I remember falling asleep in that class several times...I can't even remember what class it was, just that the professor droned on and on that I would lose focus and check out.  Talk radio has the same effect on me...which is obviously not a good plan while I'm driving. 

The other day I was driving from Arden to Oakley, and I had the radio on to our local Christian station.  It was the transition part of the day where the music goes away and the talking begins.  Usually, I flip the station, but I didn't this time.  Focus on the Family was coming on the air and Jim Daly's intro stuck with me.  He was talking about marriage, and I was poised to switch stations, but I really liked this imagery.  He said something to the effect that our culture today views marriage as a contract, not a vow.  He also used pledge and covenant as words we should associate with marriage.  I'm a words person, and that may have been what sucked me in.  

When I got home that evening, I started looking up definitions and origins of phrases.  So, bear with me (definitions from MerriamWebster.com):

contract- an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.

vow- a solemn promise or assertion; specifically : one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition; to bind or consecrate

pledge- solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something:

covenant-  usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement 

When I hear the word "contract", I think of a business agreement.  I have the image of a deal being struck and each person is obligated to the agreement until they have fulfilled their end of the deal.  If I look at this same word while viewing marriage, it's disturbing.  Like Dr. Daly was saying, many people have this view on their marital relationships.  Once someone has "put in their time" or they feel they've done their part of the deal, they can break their contract.  

Now, please hear me when I say that I am a realist.  I am fighting very hard not to be a cynic, but I am absolutely not a romantic.  BUT, when I looked at the words "vow", "pledge", and "covenant" I feel very hopeful.  In the definitions for all of these terms, the word solemn is linked to it.  In other words, this is serious!  And, I love the imagery used with "bound" and "binding" in the above definitions.  If people went into a marriage seriously promising to tie themselves to their mate for life, what a difference.  In my little mind, I use words and pictures together.  I hear bound and I think of a mother with a child swaddled and wrapped closely to her body.  The two of them are bound together. They can feel each other and see each other.  If the Mama stumbles, the baby will feel it.  I think of captives who are bound to one another with chains.  They are sharing the experience, they are linked together,  Whatever one does, the other feels.  

At my most romantic (which is limited at best) I envision a husband and wife saying to one another that solemnly vow, seriously promise, to tie their life up with their mate.  They are saying that if you hurt, I'll hurt. If you rejoice, I'll rejoice.  If you fall, I'll stumble...but because we are bound together, I'll help pull you back up.  I wish people would really think about the words they say on their wedding day.  I wish they would realized how heavy a vow is.  I wish more people would weigh out the promises they make to another person...If ever I am fortunate enough to take that vow again, I will have to think long and hard about what words to use.  If I am going to bind my life with someone else, I want to know that the bond will be unbreakable.

I have learned there is no guarantee in relationships.  But, I wholeheartedly believe that if Christ is the center of a marriage, that marriage will survive and thrive.  Do you remember making friendship bracelets when you were younger?  Remember getting those three pieces of thread, knotting them together at the top, then weaving them together to make your jewelry?  That's what I picture for a marriage...three strands...husband, wife, and Christ...woven together in their hearts, minds, and life...bound together, not to be broken apart.

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