Marriage as Private and Public
How do we live the two spheres of marriage?
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Is marriage private or public? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Recently, I was doing some more thinking about marriage, which isn't a shock to most readers of the blog. There are some things I don't think you really learn well about the institution until you're in it. In this case, I was thinking about honor and marriage and the public and private aspects of marriage.
You see, a marriage starts off with a very public ceremony. In fact, it's seen as kind of a necessity. No doubt, others have known about the love of the bride and groom for a long time, but now they publicly announce it and make a pact. At this point, they declare there will be no one else. It is the two of them together. This is done in the sight of God and man.
From there, shortly after you have a very private aspect of marriage. This takes place sometimes on the wedding night, but some couples do wait until the next day. Sexual intimacy is again a central part of marriage. In this case, the last thing the lovers want is for their relationship to be private. It's not because of a shame of the act or themselves, although that can happen for some people. It's because of a unique trust.
There is a unique trust in a woman trusting her body to a man and a man trusting his body to a woman. Both couples share something secret of themselves that they share with no one else on an intimate level. It's also something that the details are not discussed. All that needs to be known about couples is that this is going on. There are two great demonstrations of this.
One demonstration is the love that is shown in private. It's not just love, but it's honor. A wife honors and respects her husband by saying "You alone I trust with this most vulnerable part of myself and you alone do I feel comfortable with." Men respond to honor and respect for the most part. Nothing builds them up.
You see, my wife is working with me on a fear of water that I have right now. I absolutely panic when I get into a swimming pool. It's going to take time. You know what one of my biggest motivations is for improving? It's realizing that my wife trusts me so much that she gives me herself. How much am I willing to do for my wife back?
This is also part of the beauty of the mutual giving of love. My act then can motivate her to say "I'm so proud of my husband. How can I best show him how proud I am of him?" The beauty of marital intimacy is that it becomes a cycle that regularly increases the love and the trust. The more you have intimacy with your partner, the more you will grow in love and trust. The less you have intimacy, the harder it will be.
Oh. Please note that guys. The best part of this relationship is the intimacy. Sex is more than the physical sensations. It's the connection you realize you're building with your wife. It's not just about getting something in the body, but getting something in the relationship.
I said that one way this love is shown is through the love the couple has for one another in public. What happens in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom but the results should be seen in public. One clear result often seen in public is children. One way the topic of sex is public happens whenever you see a human being. When that happens, you know that two people have had sex at one point.
Of course, not all children are the results of loving unions, which is a shame, but for the most part we'd think they are. The reason you are with your spouse right now if you're married is because in part, your parents had sex one time and their parents had sex one time. The result was you on one end and your spouse on another.
The ideal of marriage then is to have that honor shone in both places. Husbands and wives should strive to honor and build one another up in public. In turn, they should do so in private where the most honor can be shown. As I said, it's a great build up. I have regularly told my wife that I think my ministry shot off after I got married because I had her in my life and got to receive that private honor.
Marriage is not just a part of our lives that we compartmentalize. It affects everything that we do. I have often said that if we want to be good apologists, then we need to be honoring marriage. If you're single, maintain sexual purity until you marry and honor marriage and respect the relationships of your married friends. If you are married, love your spouse as you're supposed to. If couples should compete in anything, it's to outdo one another in showing love and affection.
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