Reading Reflection:

The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller (Dutton, 2011) I thought I would share another reflection on this wonderful book. My husband, Matt, and I are faithfully plodding through it together on the weekends. We love it so much that we are going to be sad when we finish! Chapter Five is titled Loving the Stranger, based on Eph. 5:25-26. Here’s the opening page:
Let’s recall the point made by Stanley Hauerwas: “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing that it is] means that we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is…learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.” Hauerwas’s realism rings true to people who have been married for a long time. Marriage changes us. Having children changes us. Age changes us. On top of everything else, marriage brings out and reveals traits in you that were there all along but were hidden from everyone including you, but now they are all seen by your spouse (134).
I was only 21 when I married Matt. Now that I realize how young that is, I am so thankful that I snagged such a good catch! But seriously, looking back there was so much that I didn’t know about Matt when I committed my love to him. I would have to say that neither of us were very strong Christians at the beginning of our marriage—but we both wanted to be. Thankfully, the good Lord is working in both of us, which makes all the difference. In a sense, the day you get married is the beginning of getting to know one another. Not everyone remembers the day of their conversion to Christianity like we remember our wedding day. Some hear about Christianity for years before God effectually calls them through his gospel message. Others may just be introduced to Christ, but ready to turn from their old life in union with Him. And yet, conversion is just the beginning of our learning about Christ. Although he may have been a stranger to us, we are no stranger to Him. In fact, he knows us better than we know ourselves, and he still pursues us.  He knows all the horrific sin we have, and he loves us in his grace. He has fought for our redemption already. Jesus gave himself up for us to make us holy, and cleanses us with the washing of water through the word. If Christ has done this for us, his bride, we are so perfectly equipped to love our spouses when they seem like a total stranger to us. And if we are married to another believer, we can have confidence in the work Christ is doing in our spouse. That is the hope for Christians, and why Keller can end his chapter discussing how we help to make one another more beautiful in our spiritual companionship. After quoting 2 Cor. 4:16-18, he concludes:
What we should say to each other on our wedding day is, “As great as you look today, someday you will stand with me before God in such beauty that it will make these clothes look like rags” (169).
I'm glad that I'm not the same person I was on my wedding day. And I'm so thankful to have a husband who loves me through all of my faults. He sees what Christ sees in me, and is taking part in making me even more beautiful than I was in that dress at 21.