I would be a liar if I said I was the perfect husband. But it would be a lie of omission not to say that I’m pretty darn close 🙂
Ok… well lets change that to pretty darn funny. I’ll be watching my back for the flying pillows that will signify that Dessa has finally read this post.
Kidding aside, in the Christian circles that I have been around, marriage is often used as a metaphor for Jesus’ relationship with the Church. As I sit here and ponder that, I am remembering that both of these relationships are forms of covenant.
Covenants are different than contracts. One major way is that a contract will frequently include terms for if/when one party breaks the terms of the agreement. Contracts are also legally binding, so a court or arbitrator could force someone to adhere to the terms of the contract. I shudder to think of having force of law on my back making sure I remembered to put the toilet seat down!
Luckily, covenants work a little differently. My covenant to Dessa is that I will be her husband no matter what. Period. We said a lot of pretty words while we were both overdressed in front of friends and family, but it all boiled down to an unconditional promise that we made to each other.
God has given us the perfect example of covenant love throughout Israel’s history and finally in the life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. We didn’t have to get the answers right. We didn’t have to clean up our addictions or our bad habits. God just loves us.
Then Jesus tells us to love each other in the same exact way. Covenant love. That love that makes no distinctions, that does not discriminate.
Now I’m in a pickle. I can get my head around loving the folks who are different than I am in a lot of ways. Race, ethnicity, sex, gender, class… whatever. I get that. I’m not perfect at it, but I get it.
I struggle loving people with whom I disagree.
I graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Georgia in 2009. Shortly after this, a conservative Christian movement took control of the school, fired a bunch of faculty and staff, instituted rigid expectations around what they saw as “traditional marriage” and abstinence from alcohol, and did it all in the name of God. My beloved liberal arts college is almost unrecognizable now.
I disagreed with almost every decision that was made, as well as the reasons for making them. We voiced our concerns to trustees, administrators, local pastors… anyone we thought would have influence to change the direction of the school. To no avail.
How do I look at the other side of this struggle and love those people? They are wrong. They don’t understand the Bible. Their hypocrisy is obvious.
My side of the table has always been the right one. It is so easy to love those people who agree with you. It is about as easy as loving yourself (isn’t that interesting?) The only trouble is that I haven’t invited anyone to sit at the other side of the table. It’s empty. In fact, I have all the chairs leaned up against the table to ensure that no one might mistakenly feel welcome.
But I’ve been doing it wrong. We are all meant to be at the table. In fact, the table itself is what allows us to truly be together. Jesus did not endure suffering so that we could all be with Him separately, millions of lonely tables. Instead, He gives us a new commandment moments before facing His death:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.