I’ve been witness to many relationships throughout the years that have had no God in them and have lasted longer than marriages grounded in the Church. Why, then, would I choose to make such a claim in the headline of todays blog post? I guess it’s because in the majority of cases, a relationship that excludes God, is less likely to work out. There are secular people out there whose lengthy relationships would surprise you and put us Christians to shame. With that in mind, lets not neglect to acknowledge them and even learn some valuable lessons.
You see, the focus is really on the absence of God in a relationship and not on what that persons upbringing is. You can be a Catholic or Orthodox Christian surrounded by icons, praying and really engaged with your Church and yet, despite it all, your marriage one way or another fails. In these instances it’s usually a case where we think we have God, but we actually don’t because we have only been avoiding sin in our lives and not advancing spiritually putting off the old self and getting on with the new. The faith has become cultural and routine, and not about a renewal of the self or mind. Or it could be that at one stage the light was there, but through personal sin and weakness, the light got dimmed. Gradually and through time, the marriage faded.
The difficulty marriage presents is that, unlike monks who only have to deal with the self from a quiet world, married persons have to deal with two personalities in a very busy world full of distractions and temptations. If the personalities are grossly opposed to one another it makes it all the more difficult. For example if one member has with much effort, through the grace of God, mastered the ego, he or she then must contend with the ego not yet mastered in their spouse. Where the isolated monk has only to deal with his own problems, married people must fight even harder to deal with each others.
I’ve observed the phenomenon of the minority of the irreligious people who stay years together as they battle through these major issues. The problems are no walk in the park by the way some of them being monumental and yet they manage to remain together. The husband cheats on her and she forgives and carries on with the marriage. At some stage she cheats on him and he forgives and they both remain together despite not having an affiliation to any religion. Then there are the minority of very religious types who are so grounded in their faith (supposedly). The slightest of things like an argument over who gets to drive the car is enough for them to file a divorce.
That said, a life spent between two people that lacks the moral compass given by the Lord is very risky. It is like playing Russian roulette with one’s soul and a serious gamble. It’s the same when you’ve got one religious spouse and the other an atheist. Or both are religious but they don’t practice their faith and acquiring the virtues isn’t a priority for either of them. For this reason then serious problems can arise that gnaw away slowly at such seemingly steady unions. Oh, they may not be so obvious in the honeymoon phase or even after 20 years, but at some point problems present themselves and there is a serious rupture in the marriage.
I gave my dog a bone the other day, It looks durable, but give her time and she will gnaw at it until there’s nothing left of it. And that’s all the devil needs is time. Some relationships and marriages look steady but all the demons need is time to play the long game and gnaw away at such marriages until there’s nothing left of them.
The point of the blog post is that we build better houses with God as the foundation. When I say foundation I don’t simply mean the bricks and mortar of religion whereby we dangle some icons and have the priest come around to bless it. I’m not talking about going to sing in the local choir and listening to holy music. All of that is fine, but if it does not have as its foundation God, prayer and a serious effort to practice the virtues and put oneself on a cross to renew the mind it’s useless. If both spouses are neglecting each other in this endeavour, it is more likely to fail.
The less of the world we have in us, the more likely the marriage will grow. If you’re a Christian man or woman and you choose an irreligious person for your partner, it’s usually evidence your love for such a person outweighs your love for God. Not only do you love this person you also love yourself and this is what matters more. If it is, then don’t be surprised if you’re together for a long time due to the prayers of your granny or as a result of some miracle. If we choose God first, then our next choice will be an obvious one and we will choose a spouse that reflects that love for God.
As long as both remain head-locked in the battle against the powers and principalities that govern the air, nothing will ever come between them. No amount of noise the demons make will ever separate the love they have for God and one another. But it takes an enormous amount of prayer and work. If you’re a Christian reading this who is married and struggling, don’t be so quick to throw in the towel and carry that Cross all the way to the finish line. If you’re single, remember, there’s still time to say no to that relationship with a godless person and pick a better mate with a greater chance of the marriage surviving. The choice is yours.