Tuesday, October 23, 2007

marriage as covenant vs. contract

A cute (but provocative) story (that reads like a parable) from the October 22 "Breakpoint" from Chuck Colson's ministry... (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)

You have to give the girl credit for honesty—if nothing else. On a website called Craig's List, a young woman wrote: "I'm a spectacularly beautiful 25-year-old girl. I'm articulate and classy. I'm looking to [marry] a guy who makes at least half a million a year. Where do you single rich men hang out?"

She also wanted to know how men decided between "marriage versus just a girlfriend. I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY," she said.

In response, a man who claimed to meet her financial requirements said that from his perspective, her offer was a lousy business deal. "What you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party, and I bring my money," he wrote. "But here's the rub: Your looks will fade and my money will" continue to grow. "So in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset." (Ouch!)

This is why, the man explained, "It doesn't make good business sense to 'buy you' (which is what you're asking), so I'd rather lease. So a deal that makes sense [to me] is dating, not marriage. If you want to enter into some sort of lease [agreement]," he finished up, "let me know."

Well, that was pretty harsh! But plenty of readers thought she deserved it. She was turning marriage into an economic transaction—reducing what should be a sacred relationship into nothing more than a contract—and that's a dangerous mistake.

Economist Jennifer Roback Morse, author of the excellent book Love and Economics, puts it well. When it comes to marriage, she says, "the language of contract is . . . misleading because it undermines the basis of generosity and self-giving that is so important in married life."

Morse is right. Contractual arrangements are a calculated effort to get what you want on the best terms you can get it. But marriage is about unreserved giving and sharing.

Contracts are limited and renewable; marriage is a permanent, life-long commitment. It is about self-sacrifice, not self-satisfaction.

The Scriptures back this up. Christians have always seen marriage as a covenant with God as a party to it. Couples are to put aside their own selfish desires and focus on the needs of the loved one. But the values of the marketplace, applied to marriage, teach a totally different message: that is, that we are entitled to a good "return on our investment." They turn would-be brides and grooms into marital consumers, looking for the best deal they can get.

Tragically, people who think this way often end up in a kind of unholy wedlock—one in which men abandon wives the moment their looks begin to fade, and women drop husbands if they run out of money.

That so-called "classy" woman who hoped to marry money should read the Song of Solomon, chapter 8. In this chapter, a bride tells her bridegroom: "If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned."

These verses offer a beautiful glimpse of love and courtship as God intended them. They make clear that true love cannot be bought and sold—or leased, as the case may be.

When it comes to finding a mate, we should seek a faithful, faith-filled spouse whose "love is better than wine," as Solomon put it. That is worth more than all the money—or spectacular looks—in the world.

2 Comments:

At December 18, 2008 at 12:27 PM , Blogger Mr. Bair, Mr. Lalim, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Dressler, Mrs. Erickson said...

Great blog. Amen!

 
At February 14, 2009 at 10:31 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent entry. Entering into marriage with expectations of one's self? Bravo! Entering in with unrealistic expectations for one's spouse is not such a good idea. To say "I do....take you and will serve you just the way you are right now in this moment" is a much better plan.

 

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