When you know you know?

Really? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? I’ve never really believed in it. Well, to be true I think it’s bollox. It seems to be in the air right now. All around me people are getting married or falling in love at a remarkable rate.

An upcoming wedding is very soon. The couple in question weren’t going out for very long. Around six months in fact. Most of that was engagement. And now they’re embarking on a lifelong covenant commitment. Am I the only one who thinks this is slightly crazy? I mean you wish them well and hope for the best and pray for a long and a happy marriage but it seems a bit insane to go against the grain of conventional relationship advice from a secular or Christian perspective.

But what do I know of relationships? Not like I’ve been a success on that front. Three formal relationships that, let’s face it, all ended badly. A bunch of other people whose love was unrequited. I know sod all really. Leave your ad hominems at the door for a second though.

There’s two aspects to this in my head. Approaching this from a Christian perspective and approaching it from a secular worldview. The main difference in my head is that for a professing, church attending, committed Christian (as distinct from ticking the census box type) there should be less of a chance of marital breakdown and a greater commitment to staying married. It’s a nice theory. I think in the circles I currently walk in there is the urge to get married which is great and very limited experience of relationships.

We have this great undefined mess people find themselves in particularly in Christian circles where there are so many approaches to relationships that people are confused about how to handle feelings when they pop up. Should I have kissed dating goodbye? What about the role my parents, nearly always the father, play in the context of my relationship? How should the egalitarian approach differ from the complementarian attitude to relationships?

There’s also a danger of what it means in the context of Christian relationships. This idea of being complete is also bollox. You are a child of God regardless of whether you find a husband or a wife. You are fully able to function in the Body of Christ as an unmarried person. Indeed one could eve argue that it is preferable as a calling to ministry. Certainly the Pauline view is that one should fully concentrate on serving God.

Then there’s the contorted ethic on sexuality. The failure to articulate a positive Christian sexual ethic is perhaps one of the major failings of Western Evangelicalism in the late 20th century. The culture war on that front has been lost and we may have to wait some time to regain the initiative on that front. The sad fact is that if a pastor is preaching in front of young Christian men under the age of 25 he can safely assume that most if not all will have struggled with or be struggling with pornography.

Have we any data on how people survive when they are married after navigating this emotional and physical minefield? Are there issues surrounding guilt? In relating to one another? Does the desire for a relationship mean people rush into it? I may know the answers to all these questions in five or ten years time. Hopefully they will have proven to be unnecessary worries on my part.

In my own head I always felt that two years was a happy minimum. Anything less than that just seemed to be stacking the odds against you. If I’m married by the end of the year I’ll withdraw that statement :-)


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