I flew with my wife up to see our brother Stephen married – it was a beautiful ceremony. Marriage has gained a number of new connotations in the last few decades, what with the marriage crisis of America. One in two marriages will end in divorce or separation. However, youth are still reporting that they see marriage as an ideal and something that they long for. We want all the old connotations of marriage (life-long faithfulness, commitment, fidelity, love and affection and support) but we are becoming more and more nervous about that dependence. We are nervous that we will only have our oaths and expectations broken. The solutions that we have tried have not helped, either.
The notion of living together before marriage has gained greater traction despite the fact that it has a poor track record in terms of keeping marriages together. Studies show that rather than strengthening marriages, or offering clear insight into a future marital relationship, that ‘living together’ (cohabitation) prior to marriage actually decreases the likelihood of a faithful marriage. Taking pre-marital counseling, secular or religious, has a better chance of improving your marriage than cohabitation. We are afraid of becoming dependent. Prenuptial agreements are becoming increasingly common, but divorces are not subsiding. For all our dependence upon ourselves, nothing is changing.
Maybe we need to reconsider dependence as a new strategy for living – but not dependence on ourselves, or dependence on another; dependence on God.
God is the author of life; he is the creator. Because of this, life without God is not life at all –it’s deadly, and it’s end is only death. However, life with God is vital – meaning it is ‘lively’. It is God’s desire to redeem and reconcile all of creation – to in some ways return it to the way “it should have been” and in others, to regenerate and make utterly new – to build a whole new creation. We experience this through a relationship with Christ characterized by dependence and faith.
We are told by society, by advertisements and by broad culture that we should be independent, self-empowered, self-satisfied, self-gratifying, and to esteem ourselves. But what if this is backwards? What if we can’t do it all ourselves? What if we’re lost apart from help?
1 John 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Instead of blotting out our troubles with substances or relationships that develop dependencies and addictions, we should be focusing on God. We should be asking the Holy Spirit for help, strength, and then we should be courageous to obey Him
Ephesians 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.
The problems that we are facing in society with addictions, with marriage, with codependency – all the problems that we have – are in some way related to our denial of God’s control as creator, and our dependent and creaturely nature before him. We were supposed to be in a dependent relationship with Him, relying upon him for wisdom, law, guidance, strength – which in turn would offer us hope, joy, peace and love. Maybe we should be a bit more dependent – but on the right person: God.