Desperate Houseflies: The Magazine

Feel free to pull out your trusty fly swatter and comment on what is posted here, realizing that this odd collection of writers may prove as difficult to kill as houseflies and are presumably just as pesky. “Desperate Houseflies” is a magazine that intends to publish weekly articles on subjects such as politics, literature, history, sports, photography, religion, and no telling what else. We’ll see what happens.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

On Father's Day

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff recently written by a complex theologian named Stanley Hauerwas. He doesn’t think like… well, anybody. Possibly too smart for his own good, he comes at issues from different angles and causes everyone to think (whether you like him or not). When I haven’t been completely lost, I think I’ve learned a thing or two.

Some of his essays criticize the romantic presuppositions about marriage in our culture. People think they should marry because they have “fallen in love” with one another, though this motivation for marriage is not a Bible idea, nor even a very old motivation. One of the negative side effects of this romantic ideal is that people also choose to have sex because they have “fallen in love” instead of reserving sex for marriage. The tragedy is that this misguided notion has led many men to leave women alone when they have “fallen out of love,” leaving them to care for children without the help of the husband.

Christians should offer an alternative view to the world. Marriage commits two people for a lifetime. In addition, Christians should care for everyone, especially the weak and vulnerable (and both children and single parents more than qualify), so in a world like ours, Christians should be prepared to open their arms for all who are in need. As James puts it, a significant part of pure religion involves caring for the “fatherless.” (1:27)

So on Father’s Day, those of us Christian men who have produced children should be reminded of our responsibility to our children. But taken one step further, we should all remember our responsibility to serve as “fathers” to so many in the world who have fallen victim to our misguided culture. May Father’s Day remind us of that calling.

13 Comments:

Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

People think they should marry because they have “fallen in love” with one another, though this motivation for marriage is not a Bible idea, nor even a very old motivation.

I'm all for dialing back the romantic hyperbole surrounding marriage (and parenting, and dating, for that matter), but it strikes me as anachronistic to criticize it as non-biblical. Given that the bible was written in, by, and to a culture in which women were considered property and marriages were arranged, it's hardly surprising it doesn't exactly pre-figure "Sleepless in Seattle."

To the best of my recollection, the bible doesn't discuss motivations for marriage at all, save Paul's grudging, "Well, do it if you have to. I guess it's better than being consumed by lust." Since marriages were arranged, motivations were hardly relevant.

There's the Song of Solomon, of course, if anybody still reads that. But, of course, that's about a couple that's already married. Or God's love for Israel. Or the church. Or something. Right?

8:47 PM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

:-)

You're right. I've got no problem with using the whole romantic "system" (if you will), just don't claim that this is the way God set it up in Eden.

4:39 AM  
Blogger Sandi said...

Well, I don't pretend to know anything about the Bible, but if love is not the basis for marriage, what's the alternative? Seems to me this is a better system than anything we've had previously in terms of fostering human happiness. If happiness isn't the goal, what is? And if happiness isn't the goal, fine, but if it isn't present, I think whatever goals you do have are not going to seem much worth achieving to very many people.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

I do think love is the basis for marriage, but its the definition of love that I think Jesus teaches differently from the American version.

Jesus: I'm committing to you no matter what happens, even when I don't have romantic feelings for you anymore.

American version: I'm committing to you no matter what happens, unless that is, I discover I don't have feelings for you anymore.

The type of love Jesus teaches will work in marriages where marriage is initiated by a romance and in those not initiated by romance. My point was that when Christians presuppose that romantic feelings are the end-all to marriage, then these aren't Christian marriages, but Americanized versions of marriage. (And I've got a string of office visits to prove that most are based on something others than Jesus's type of love.)

6:12 AM  
Blogger Sandi said...

LOL, thanks for the clarification, Al. I think that what I think of as (romantic?) love and what a lot of other people think of are two different things. Particularly to the extent that people expect to continue to have strong sexual feelings for their partner many years into a marriage. Partnership is by definition not a mysterious, passion-driven enterprise. To the extent that people want those feelings to last, it is unrealistic. For me, it was part of "growing up" to be able to see a relationship for its future potential as well as its present characteristics.

I'm babbling today. Sorry. Anyway, the point is that life is not a Jackie Collins novel, nor should it be. So I agree with you there.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Whitney said...

"My point was that when Christians presuppose that romantic feelings are the end-all to marriage, then these aren't Christian marriages, but Americanized versions of marriage."

Al, I think this is one thing that people who marry later may "get" a little more. How many kids get married out of pure passion (and its ensuing disillusion) when they're 18 and then two years and a baby later realize they don't have any lovey-dovey feelings for the significant other and think there is something terribly wrong with the marriage?

I agree with Sandi that it is a factor of maturity--the understanding that romantic love isn't what really makes a marriage a marriage. Unconditional partnership is more what does it, and I think that clearly reflects Christ's love for us. He is truly our partner. And boy-oh-boy is he unconditional!!!

We're just fortunate enough to live in a society where we can choose who we marry based on the "spark" we have at first. (I remember not going on second dates because there was no spark!) Now we need to do more to help young (and older) couples understand that the spark may have very little to do with the long-term partnership. And that true, real love is not represented by a spark. Some of us are just fortunate enough to have a real-love partnership that can still find it's spark.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Whitney said...

Sandi said:
I think that what I think of as (romantic?) love and what a lot of other people think of are two different things.

I find it terribly romantic when, with real interest, my husband asks me what I've been working on and what the overall goals of my current project are. Then he discusses it with me. Nerdy? Sure. But to me it says that he cares about what I care about and, more than that, respects that I take my work seriously and find some worth it it.

10:29 AM  
Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

if love is not the basis for marriage, what's the alternative?

Money. What a silly question. :)

1:17 PM  
Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

just don't claim that this is the way God set it up in Eden

As best I can tell, God didn't set up anything -- romantic or unromantic -- in Eden. There was one man and one woman: a situation that sort of obviates the need for a mate-selection system.

Does Hauerwas argue there's some paradisiacal theology of mate selection?

1:27 PM  
Blogger Whitney said...

Paradisiacal Theology of Mate Selection

Wow, THAT sounds like a class you'd take at Harding or ACU! Graduate level, of course.

p.s. How'd you know I married Joe for the money?

1:39 PM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

Juvenal: Does Hauerwas argue there's some paradisiacal theology of mate selection?

Al: Not that I know of... He just says that romantic presuppositions lead to some negative things such as divorce and abortion and single parents (when the romance goes south), but I don't think he argues for complete abandonment of that concept as a way to select a mate.

And I'm with you on Eden. That was sort of meant to be my point. Nothing in Eden to lend credence to any specific theory of mate selection. Christianity doesn't presuppose any specific theory in this regard that I know of, other than the potential interpretation of Paul to say that you shouldn't be "unequally yoked" with an unbeliever.

But back to Hauerwas: he simply argues that Christian love as expressed in marriage is a lifetime commitment, not to be clouded with whether or not you've fallen in love or out of love or anything of the sort.

3:18 PM  
Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

How'd you know I married Joe for the money?

Actually, I thought you married him for the dog.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Terry Austin said...

Michael's next book reviews, in order:

Song of Solomon

Anything by Jackie Collins

6:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page