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You Had Me at “Hello”

April 1, 2010

I’ve been blogging for a while now in various venues and the one constant has been the inaugural post.  I’ve always made space to introduce myself and my grand plans for a new blog.  This time, I’m just jumping right in. (Though if you want to read all that other stuff, you’ll find it the About BNB page.)

I was recently reading a post at The Institute about Up in the Air (a flick I recently saw and highly recommend).  The author of the post, Abraham Sangha, offered a brief, unsatisfying critique of a few moments in the movie:

In the 2010 Oscar-nominated film “Up in the Air,” Vera Farmiga’s character, Alex Goran (portentous masculine name), tells George Clooney’s character as they are establishing their sexual relationship, “Just think of me as yourself…only with a vagina.” This is precisely the same offer, even if unspoken, many “liberated” women are making men today.

In this gender-bending environment, is it any wonder that Clooney’s character, who like all people is both victim and victimizer, makes the fatal mistake of rejecting the image of God for the image of a shark?

To start, while Farmiga’s character’s comment is troubling from a Christian worldview (regardless of whether you ascribe to a more egalitarian or complementarian understanding of gender), it’s not “gender-bending” that makes Clooney’s character so jaded.  He is a man of his culture who is embracing detachment as a means to material and personal success.  Thankfully, circumstances alter his worldview, if only for a while, but I won’t get into that lest it spoil the movie.

While the post itself was perfunctory and merely skimmed across a subject that deserved more attention, as expected in any mention of “women’s liberation” or other such issues, the comments erupted into a lengthy and heated conversation about how the Bible illuminates gender differences.

Here’s where it really got me.  One commenter named Julia, in her defense of the institution of marriage and her assault on feminism (which will have to wait because oh-my-goodness that’s too much to handle here), got way off track, at one point (of many) saying:

My best friend is the model Christian superwoman. She started her own education ministry in South Africa ten years ago. Her Colored, Black and Xhosa students beat the rich white kids in academic competitions and she has given that village their first high school and college graduates in history. Child crime dropped to ZERO within a year of her moving there. But she would give it all up in a heartbeat to be a wife and raise children, and I pray earnestly that God will bless her with that chance.

I’m happy her friend has found a fulfilling and God-honoring vocation.  But what is this whole deal where this kind of work is the “fall back” plan?  As in, “if I don’t get married, then I’ll have this other, ya know, godly, uplifting, worthwhile thing to do in the meantime.”  I can appreciate Julia wanting her friend to have the desires of her heart, but what makes marriage to some unknown quantity superior to mission work or some other act of service?  Why would marriage necessarily require her to “give it all up in a heartbeat?” And, for the love of Pete, why is marriage itself the ultimate goal?

I have many single friends who think this way.  They love God and they’ll get busy serving Him, but just until Calgon, I mean a husband, comes along to take them home where they belong.  I’m not knocking stay-at-home wives or mothers here, I’ve been one myself, I’m just saying that being a “wife” is not a job.  It’s a relationship.

One of my single friends is often asked, “Don’t you want to be married?”  As she currently isn’t dating anyone, she replies, “to whom?”  Her single friends are baffled.  “Don’t you just want to get married?”  As if marriage is a thing you go and do with the first non-smoking, non-swearing, chaste Christian man comes along.

Gotta get me one before they’re all sold out! And since “wife” is not a job, let me also add that “husband” is not a variable in some happiness equation.

I am a happily married woman.  I have a fantastic husband.  But I did not pick him off an assembly line.  He was not one of the husband candidates I interviewed.  We were friends.  We liked each other that way.  We dated, we got engaged, and we got married.  There was no wide open space in my life waiting on him.  He just came and I made room because here’s a whole other person I wanted to spend my life with like that.

We weren’t “soul mates” who found each other and we weren’t two halves of a whole or some Jerry Maguire “you complete me” nonsense.  We were two children of God who chose each other and decided we’d say “no” to whomever else the world had to offer us.

"You gotta be kidding me"- The Goldfish

Hey, I think marriage is great.  It’s hard, but when it’s approached rightly, it can be a sanctifying and uniquely intimate relationship.  A successful marriage should be esteemed.  But so should successful singleness, as it offers its own rewards and challenges.  Paul even said (more than once), it’s good to be single.

Matrimony for the sake of matrimony is just stupid, and it weakens it.  As a married person, I would never want someone to seek out marriage like it’s some Disney-made happy ending to his or her quest for meaning and purpose in life.  That’s a bad way to live and frankly, it’s a disastrous way to start any romantic relationship, much less a lifelong commitment to a marriage.

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