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Marriage and relationships with God…at Wheat and Tares

March 28, 2012

After such a popular article last week, this week’s article at Wheat and Tares, An unintentionally poor analogy for marriage and relationships with God, seems to be a swing and a miss. I guess this is one of those things that you probably ought to be married…or have a relationship with God…before you decide to pontificate on that topic.

Mea culpa. I hope never to make that same mistake again.

That being said, I think that some of the comments to the discussion are worthwhile, even if the article apparently isn’t.

The first comment that caught my eye was Bonnie’s:

Andrew, I don’t have time to read Jeff’s post this morning, but I will take a moment to respond to yours. After enduring two very bad marriages, both solemnized in temples, I still think marriage is an excellent metaphor for a relationship with God. I also think that leadership is well described in parables about constructing buildings and watching over sheep. None of these analogies, which are reductions of a perfect construct to limited human terms, can be pressed too far trying to fit the analogy up (from human to explain the eternal).

And I agree with the bolded statement that you quote from Jeff. After one has made a covenant is not the time for one to dally about deciding about that covenant. I don’t think he’s suggesting that people remain static individuals; I think he’s commenting on how destructive it is for people to rewrite the basics of the covenant after giving their word.

Either in marriage or in discipleship, once we’ve given our word, it should be our word. It’s a matter of honor. I may be single for the rest of my life, but I still think marriage is an excellent analogy for my relationship with God. Thank heavens He is faithful.

Of all of this, what caught my eye the most was the last line: Thank heavens He is faithful. Between this line (and her own admission that she has endured “two very bad marriages,” I can feel a sense that God’s constancy is certainly a comfort in her life.

There were a couple of comments that alluded to the marriage triangle between God, a man and a wife. Such as this:

…Although no earthly marriage is perfect, God’s relationship with us is filled with perfect love and unending faithfulness. As both parties in a marriage center their hearts on God’s love, marriages can be strengthened and blessed.

I have been married for 42 years and have learned that the more my spouse and I love the Lord, the stronger our marriage is. God’s love blesses individuals and marriages when we seek to obey, follow, and love our Father and His Beloved Son.

or

I view God in the marriage equation more on the Triangle Model. The two lower ends of the triangle are the husband and wife, and God is the apex of the triangle. So the closer each individual gets towards God, the closer they are to each other.

I wonder if any atheists/nonbelievers have ever commented on this triangle model. I mean, I guess in some sense, people who have lost faith often are certainly aware of how the Triangle Model works when one of the partners moves away from God. (Yeah, his/her spouse won’t be too happy.) But then again Joe, who has found my posts at W&T, literally believes that those who lose faith choose to lose faith, so it’s their own fault. And now, he even calls himself my “outspoken critic.”

his seems to be yet another post along the same lines as the previous, Andrew S, on your own blog, which seems to suggest yet again that people are not responsible for their actions or choices when they have a faith crisis, nor are they responsible for the *choice* of losing faith when confronted with something that shakes them. Yet again, I will respond that when someone makes a “faith change” or “faith affilation change”, they are responsible for that choice. They are responsible for breaking the commandments. They are responsible for breaking covenants. Nobody or nothing forced them into it. They were beguiled by the “facts” to make a poor choice as much as Adam and Eve were beguiled by facts. Once again, I will call upon you to stop acting like middle way mormons and post mormons are victims. They may have not asked to be shaken, but they are responsible for their choices. Please stop acting like people are forced to make choices.

Sincerely,
Your outspoken critic, Joe

Emphasis added. I literally cannot make this stuff up. “They were beguiled by the “facts”.” He CALLS upon me to stop acting like middle way mormons and post mormons are victims. (I don’t think middle way Mormons and post Mormons are victims. But that’s because I also don’t believe that proactively renegotiating one’s relationship with the church to avoid and reduce pain makes one a victim.) I actually am kinda waiting for Joe to dust his feet off at me. Ah well…as I commented to Joe…to the extent that he believes that belief is consciously chosen, then we are at an impasse. He has no choice but to disagree unless and until he can see different data that reaches out to him.

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2 Comments
  1. Andrew S., I for one really enjoyed your post at W&T and I thought you made great points. I’ve been married for almost two years now, I really dislike the Triangle model and really despise the hierarchy model you critiqued (i.e., God-Husband-Wife). I think both types of thinking can be damaging (emphasis on “can”). If you’re marriage sucks, it’s because you’re not faithful enough and/or it implies that a non-religious couple can’t have a good a relationship. Also, I just find the idea of God being a part of a threesome with me and my husband a bit off-putting. I like the idea of receiving divine input and guidance–but not in a way that puts my relationship with the love of my life as secondary. The hierarchy model gives me even more grief–for brevity’s sake, let’s just say “preside” is a dirty word in our house.

    I also don’t appreciate how the current church rhetoric (and Jeff Lindsay’s article) puts so much emphasis on marriage. Especially where Lindsay says, “We believe that marriage can be forever. Yes, of course we’ve heard the verse about how marriage does not occur in heaven. There is also no baptism in heaven. These ordinances are earthly ordinances that must occur here, but both, when properly done and with the right authority, can bring lasting eternal blessings.” This is such an exclusive and terrible notion. At least growing up in the church I would hear people who didn’t get a chance to be sealed in this life would have a chance in the next life. However, this statement implies this instead: sorry singles and homosexuals and those married to non-members . . . you’re screwed.

    Also, the issue of losing faith after being sealed . . . my husband and I are pretty much out the door right now and we have a really awesome marriage. I really don’t mean to sound conceited–but we do do pretty well for ourselves. And frankly, I could even make the case that stepping away from the church has strengthened our marriage more. When we started being comfortable with our beliefs we and stopped worrying about what other people thought, we became a lot happier.

    Anyhow. Sorry for the length of this comment.

  2. Thanks for the comment (both here and at W&T), Taylor.

    What you have quoted from Jeff Lindsay’s article is a really good point. The church is in a really tough spot…if they want to try to meet non-LDS Christians “half-way” on the issue of whether marriage occurs in heaven (e.g., most non-LDS Christians don’t believe there will be any kind of marriage in heaven, so the church tries to meet halfway by saying that *new marriages* won’t begin in heaven, but the old ones will remain in place), then they really put people who are single, gay, etc., in a tough position.

    But in that way, it kinda shows how not a lot of people have really thought about it…because I know just as many people who say, “You’ll find your special someone in the next life…” etc.,

    (also, no need to apologize for the length of the comment…long comments are generally good comments.)

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