Friday, December 11, 2009

Does Your Marriage Strengthen Your Faith?

I think the idea that a shared faith life can strengthen your marriage is pretty common, but I've been musing about the reverse:

Do you intentionally look to your marriage as a "platform" from which you pursue your faith? Put another way, is your primary life partner your primary faith partner?

I came to this from a curious direction. I think a lot about small groups and house churches. More recently I encountered suggestions for "Three is Enough" groups as well as "Church of Two." One thing that seemed to be in common across all of these is that you have to begin by finding one or more people to team up with, and then spend some time building a significant relationship of trust. With that foundation established, you can work together to pursue your faith with support, encouragement and sharing of ideas, insights etc.

Eventually, I wondered why not start with an established relationship of trust that a great many of us already have in place: our spouse? And I'm not talking here about sharing a life of faith as a way to strengthen the marriage, though it certainly will. Rather, the focus is on intentionally turning to the marriage relationship as a resource for pursuing faith. After all, there we hopefully already have someone who knows us well enough to "speak into our life" as they say. Hopefully, with enough trust built up to be able to "speak (and hear) the truth in love." And generally, someone you can get quality time with fairly easily (even though we often don't.)

Wouldn't that be easier than trying to find someone, find a place and time to meet, and start building a deep, faith-based relationship?

I'd love to hear from others who have though about this, or better yet begun to live that way. What have your experiences been? What kind of practices have you found helpful (or not.) What challenges have you encountered?


Planter said...

I think this is a valuable direction to pursue. It is definitiely a challenging topic, and if we are honest, if our marriages are not healthy, it will make having a healthy spiritual life all that much more harder. The two are def linked. I also like the metaphor of a plat form. I really run from the little house on the prarie model that marriage is a closed unity and some sort of alternate reality of bliss. Our marriages should be just like our existence between the ages. IT should give us a foretaste of intimacy and healing and at the the same time propel us into engagement with the world.

The Feral Pastor said...

Thanks Planter - I like the both/and aspect you touch on... that as foretaste and platform, my marriage is both for me and for the world.

It's that "for the world" part that strikes me as most novel and particularly compelling for the house/simple church conversation. It sets me to rethinking things like the verse from Genesis: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his partner." (Gen. 2:18 NRSV)

It's so easy to hear that as being focused on the individual in the relationship. For man and woman, the partner is someone we need to help us. But this calls for a perspective in addition to that one:

"It is not good for the man to shoulder the responsibility I have for him by himself - seeing as I am entrusting the entire care of creation to him. So I will make someone to help with this work as his partner."

(Note: I'm not suggesting gender roles or priority here.)

So, life partnership is a gift to the partners, to be sure. But also intended I think as a partnership for the sake of the world.

Both, it turns out, need intentional attention.

JLTan said...

My comment, also posted in Dec, is on