My dad said that there’s no such thing as an “us” until you’re married in Christ. There’s just you and me. (What do you think of this?)
This seems to be a good question, if I understand it correctly. I think your are asking about whether a “real relationship” exists before the actual marriage vows happen, or something to that effect. From your statement, I am assuming that your Dad’s position is that two people don’t have a legitimate “union” until marriage occurs.
This question is fun because it really leads us down a road of discussion about “common law marriage” and whether two people meet the description of being “one flesh” without ever actually getting married. Sort of the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie conversation (they are dating forever, but not getting married).
I was watching the “Today Show” on TV a few weeks ago and I saw an interview with Jenny McCarthy (previously from MTV). She was talking about her relationship with Jim Carrey (they have been a couple for years now, but are opposed to marriage). Here is what she said about the suggestion that they get married eventually: “We’re living together… and we’re very happy – all that’s going to be is a piece of paper, really.”
And they aren’t alone. In fact there are several famous couples that have decided against “tying the knot.” Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt; Charlize Theron & Stuart Townsend; Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins; and Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn, just to name a few.
Now the book of Genesis describes an incredible spiritual and physical mystery that happens when two people come together. It describes the need for humans to have companionship and then because of that needs says this: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24-25 (TNIV)
Crazy! Something very amazing happens in this coming-together. Two people somehow become one!
So, are Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey “one flesh” even though they aren’t married? That is a good question! And in this case, I think the answer is “YES.”
Now, let’s think this through a bit. As I responded in “Question 2” of the last post, there is no thought of “pre-marital” sex in the Bible. In the Jewish culture, sex was either an act done in the relationship of an existing marriage, or was the basic form of solidifying a new one. So, if you weren’t married and happened to have sex with a beautiful girl you met at the grocery store, guess what? Now you are married! Sex, in the Bible, has very large social and spiritual responsibilities as well as individual ones.
In the case of McCarthy-Carrey, I’m assuming this “union” has occurred, and the mystery the Bible talks about has happened too. Thus, they are “one flesh.”
So too, as a high school student, depending on the depth and level you take a relationship, you also will experience deeper spiritual connection than maybe you intend. That’s why the subject is so serious from a faith perspective. Not just because you might get pregnant or catch an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or because God arbitrarily thinks sex is bad and dirty. It is most serious because there is a special “joining” going on that goes beyond the physical.
Now, the danger here for the McCarthy-Carrey scenario is that this union has happened outside of a commitment to life-long security and love. They have inter-woven their lives in very deep ways, but not made the commitment to each other long term. They have left a “back-door” open in their relationship that either of them is free to leave through if they get frustrated, tired or just want to try something new.
In this way, your dad might be correct. It is very difficult to experience true “oneness” with someone (free to be yourself, free from worry of abandonment, etc.) if you know that at any time the other person can just walk away. It is the great lie of this generation as it comes to relationships. It seems to make you safe from hurt in a relationship, but actually is much more dangerous. I think we see the devastation of this thinking all around us today.
Ok. I hope that answers part of your question at least. I could write a bunch more, but we’ll be talking about this in greater detail in a later message. Good question, though!
P.S. After writing this response, I want to make sure I give Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey a fair shake. I obviously don’t know them personally, and for all I know they may have made these commitments to each other in a non-traditional way. People may not need to approach marriage through the current social norms of the union to be valid in God’s eyes (i.e. with flowers, sermon, rings, kiss, bouqet, etc.).
So my relationship with my parents is broken and I don’t know what to do but they always yell and it’s ruining my life and making me sad and depressed and it’s effecting every part of my life and making it suck and I don’t know what to say or do to make it better. They are never pleased with me.
This question is a little off the topic of “romantic relationships,” but does deal with another type of relationship and so I’d like to respond to it anyway.
Maybe the most difficult relationships to navigate besides those of the romantic nature are those between parents and students. If grace is needed in romance, then it is REQUIRED in family dynamics.
Now, I don’t know who wrote this question or your specific situation here, which makes a great deal of difference. But, based on what you are writing, I can say at least a few things.
1) Parents are some times wrong. I have a feeling probably even your parents would agree with this. Many times they may have something that they feel is very important for you to know, do, learn, or be a part of, but they make mistakes in how they push you towards it. Their motivation is good, but their execution is less than perfect.
2) Parents are some times right. I think you would probably agree that occasionally (☺) your parents get some things right, even if you don’t want to do what they say.
Grace is required either way. That means “giving people what they don’t deserve and not giving people what they do deserve.” That is how relationships work. My guess is that neither your parents nor you are totally at fault. Both parties have probably been guilty of saying or doing things that weren’t beneficial to the relationship.
This probably bleeds through into other areas of both your lives. I’m sure the discomfort you are feeling is totally real. And I would encourage you to share those feelings with your parents. Tell them, calmly, about the things in your relationship that are causing you stress and depression. And make the commitment to “give them some grace.”
There will be things that, as parents, they deem important to you and require you to do them. That’s ok. You may not totally enjoy it, but it is their right as your parent. However, there will be times when they approach you in wrong ways too. Maybe a conversation between all of you, begun with your commitment to follow their lead and give them grace when necessary, will give them the opportunity to express their apology for the times they have failed…and bring healing.
If this isn’t completely satisfying as an answer, I understand. It is kind of generic. And I’d love to have a more personal conversation with you later as it relates to the specifics of your situation. Please feel free to grab me any time and we can have a better conversation.
Thanks for your openness and vulnerability in your question.