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“What we do to each other, we do to ourselves.” – Paula A. Franzese

“…humans can be made to infer the false belief that the blend of affection, fear, and desire which they call ‘being in love’ is the only thing that makes marriage either happy or holy. The error is easy to produce because ‘being in love’ does very often, in Western Europe, precede marriages which are made in obedience to the Enemy’s designs, that is, with the intention of fidelity, fertility and good will; just as religious emotion very often, but not always, attends conversion. In other words, the humans are encouraged to regard as the basis for marriage a highly-coloured and distorted version of something the Enemy really promises as its result. Two advantages follow. In the first place, humans who do not have the gift of continence can be deterred from seeking marriage as a solution because they do not find themselves ‘in love,’ and thanks to us, the idea of marrying with any other motive seems to them low and cynical. Yes, they think that. They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion. (Don’t neglect to make your man think the marriage-service very offensive.) In the second place any sexual infatuation whatever, so long as it intends marriage, will be regarded as ‘love’, and ‘love’ will be held to excuse a man from all the guilt, and to protect him from all the consequences, of marrying a heathen, a fool, or a wanton…”

From The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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Being young and having little experience in the world, I personally cannot say very much about marriage and the love between a married couple but I found this excerpt by C.S. Lewis to be interesting and tought-provoking. I think Lewis encourages his reader to seek out the substance and the heart of a person as opposed to the feelings the person invokes. The inability to connect with the substance of man or a woman is one thing, waiting for the one to give you butterflies in your stomach is another. Lewis would most likely tell you to forget the butterflies; afer all, they only have a lifespan of a week.

The Taming of the Shrew stands out as one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies. Although just how funny it really is remains a matter of opinion. To briefly summarize the play, a rich Italian gentleman has two daughters, Katherina (Kate) and Bianca. Bianca is sweet and loved and chased by many suitors but her older sister Kate is entirely shrewish. No man wants to come near her because if she does not blow out his eardrums out with her shouting she will literally beat him. 

As always there has to be some sort of complication. Bianca is not allowed to get married until her older sister is first married, and this stipulation is what spurs the action of the play. One of Bianca’s suitors, Hortensio, convinces his friend Petruchio that Kate is the wife for him because she is beautiful and her dowry is large. Petruchio enters the play as the would-be hero who will capture Kate’s heart and release Bianca. Except he acts far more like a villain than a hero. He is not intent on capturing Kate’s heart but on breaking her will, on taming her (hence the title.) By the very end of the play, Kate and Petruchio are married and Kate has been tamed for lack of a better description. The unruly Katharina seems to have finally met her match. Critics world over have tried to rescue the play from its apparent chauvinistic traits but that is not my concern here.

First I offer the following passage from the second Act of the play in which Kate and Petruchio meet and he informs her that she will be his wife whether she likes it or not. After much witty banter and the exchange of some harsh words, the ever elusive Katherina seems to have finally been trapped as her interaction with Petruchio comes to a close and her father reenters the scene. He ends their interaction in the following manner:

“And therefore, setting all this chat aside,
Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented
That you shall be my wife; your dowry ‘greed on;
And, Will you, nill you, I will marry you.
Now, Kate, I am a husband for your turn;
For, by this light, whereby I see thy beauty,
Thy beauty, that doth make me like thee well,
Thou must be married to no man but me;
For I am he am born to tame you Kate,
And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate
Conformable as other household Kates.
Here comes your father: never make denial;
I must and will have Katharina to my wife.”

Petruchio does just as he promises. The wild Kate becomes a domesticated Kate, simply concerned with pleasing her husband and attending to his needs. The world outside Petruchio and away from him no longer exists. And as Kate becomes a “Kate conformable as other household Kates” her spirit and her fire fizzles away. She is simply a changed woman.

Strangely enough, this play and particularly that excerpt bring to mind the following passage from the Bible. “There is difference [also] between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please [her] husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34).

And so the Bible presents us with the image of the unmarried or single woman as a free spirit not bound to the cares of this world but entirely focused on the world above. Her life is one focused on entirely on God, she is not bound to anything or anyone. Her will is free, and if she so chooses, she can will her entire being to revolve around her connection with God.

Now Kate is far from the best example of a single woman’s cares focusing on God, but the connection is there. Kate’s life did not revolve around anything of this world or its cares until Petruchio came along and her focus had to alter.

This is not an anti-marriage post by any means though. After all, the church regards a marriage as the formation of a new church within the home. It is one of the paths that lead to salvation. After all, the beauty of a Christian marriage is unparalleled. This is a post meant to extol the beauty of being single and living life on your own. There is something to be said for having your free time to while away on God and His glory.

Many run around in a panic, thinking that singledom is a disease of sorts that must be cured as fast as possible when in actuality it is a blessing meant to be cherished. Take the time you have on your own to grow in His wisdom and in His glory. To expand your capacity for love and humility. To grow into His likeness with every passing day. The time is too short and it will slip by before you realize it.

P.S. – The same thing goes for men too. See 1 Corinthians 7:32-33.

Tell those you love how much you appreciate them. They may not be there tomorrow.

Currently listening to (on repeat): “All Fall Down” by Onerepublic

I previously left this topic with the open-ended question “So what now?”

 

What does one do in the face of a world full of people spinning around while singing Mariah Carey love songs, people who think you’re insane to not be spinning with them and crooning your favorite Mariah ballad?

 

And my answer to that is “Absolutely nothing.” There is nothing that must be done or worked on or understood. There is only a life to be lived without a singular worry about the who, when, where and why of dating, relationships, and marriage. My personal conceptualization of “taking dating seriously” as I was told I should took some time to form over the 2 years or so from when I was first approached with this proposition. I tried to absorb all the do’s and don’ts being thrown at me from that day forward but none of it made any sense to me. It required too much planning and forethought and calculation—it seemed like one was almost gearing up for a war in which all the single people were mercenaries out to work for themselves. But that’s not how relationships between men and women began. That’s not how the very first relationship ever came into existence.

 

Let’s go back to Adam and Eve for a moment—the world’s first couple. After God had created everything and Adam and allowed Adam to run around exploring the Garden of Eden and naming everything, He saw that “it was not good for man to be alone.” So what did He do? Let’s start with what he didn’t do first. He did not create a bunch of women and have them prance around while Adam got to sit around and pick one. No, His plan was perfect.

 

He took Adam and put him into a deep sleep (basically, He knocked him out.) He took one of his ribs and formed a woman, Eve, and when Adam woke up He took her by the hand and placed them together.

 

There are a few things to be picked out here. First, Adam did not run around frantically searching for someone. Instead, God saw that he needed companionship and decided to give it to him at the exact time in which he needed it (in Adam’s case it was around the time he ran out of things to name.) Then He created for Adam a perfect companion to complement him, drawn partially from his own being. Neither Adam nor Eve had anything to do with it.

 

Thousands of years have passed and God is no longer knocking out men so He can create perfect companions for them out of their ribs (although I’m sure there are those who would prefer it still worked this way.) But the principles of living a life without a worry or a care over this issue can still be taken and applied. There is no need to wage World War III of the Singles Trying to Find a Companion. The only need there is for the individual is to continue living and learning and growing in grace and wisdom—to use the ever popular yet quite applicable cliché, to live, love, and laugh until you find Him leading you by the hand and placing you with someone else. And if it never happens, that’s cool too because you lived, loved, and laughed your way through this world.