Chapter 3 Review – The Essence Of Marriage
Essence: The most important ingredient; the crucial element.
Keller explains in this chapter that the most important ingredient in marriage is love. However, not just passionate, emotional feelings of love, but the commitment and covenant of love derived through actions. He states on page 78:
“But when the Bible speaks of love, it measures it primarily not by how much you want to receive it but by how much you are willing to give yourself to someone else.”
The essence of marriage, he says, “is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other.” (80)
In marriage, a husband and wife will go through droughts where they don’t necessarily have passionate love for one another. They may not feel the same way they did when they were dating or in the beginning of their marriage. Yet, because marriage is a covenant, husbands and wives are bound to each other by law through their vows, preventing any easy escape to search for those feelings with someone else. If a husband or wife chooses to love each other, despite a lack of feelings, they will see that love will grow.
Keller adds a few quotes from C.S. Lewis, expounding on the idea that if a person loves another through their actions, regardless of their feelings, they will eventually begin to feel love for that person. Likewise, if a person mistreats someone, eventually they will feel hatred towards the person they are mistreating.
This challenged me in the way that I respond to my husband in marriage, encouraging me that even if I do not feel “in love” with my husband, the more I love through my actions, the more I will grow to love him!
Keller points out the fact that feelings and emotions cannot be commanded out of someone. Yet Jesus commands us in Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Also, Jesus says in John 14:15, “”If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Jesus commands us to love and says if we obey Him, it shows that we love him. Jesus doesn’t command that we feel love, He is commanding that we show love through our actions!
This chapter also touches on the importance of vows and how they are a declaration of our future love for our spouse. Vows are not just excited words we use to describe present feelings, rather they are a covenant made before God of the love you will commit to as you continue into the future with your spouse.
Keller also does a phenomenal job describing how the feelings of passionate love we feel in the beginning of our relationship is not necessarily overwhelming love for a person, but rather it is directly attributed to the boost in ego we receive from someone liking or choosing us. He is not saying that love does not exist, but he does point out that a large part of those initial feelings of love come from the attention we receive from our significant other. I thought that was very interesting and a perspective I have never heard before. Knowing this helps us to understand the difference between the spark of love in the beginning of our relationship and the deep, intimate love that develops over time through marriage.
I have battled waves of emotions throughout my marriage, wishing that our relationship was just as it was when we were dating, but this inspired me to see the benefit of having a longer lasting passion of love and devotion which will only prosper through acts of love.
GET The Meaning Of Marriage: Facing The Complexities Of Commitment With The Wisdom Of God HERE