By: Amber Chinnapper

A few days ago I felt like watching a light feel-good movie, and whilst browsing through Netflix I found one I thought would be suitable. I’d watched it before a few years back, and somehow remembered it being mostly enjoyable. Like all typical chick-flicks it was centred on romance and relationship drama, drama, drama. However, instead of feeling impartial to the shallow plot, I found myself surprisingly flabbergasted. And this feeling was not stirred out of ignorance or naivety, but out of a concerned realisation that so many people similarly experience and live by the views and dynamics portrayed in the film. It struck me that so many actually see the film’s relationship dynamics as truth instead of fiction.

Even though the film made some obvious references to love and care, I also saw a lot of complication, heartache, and selfish desire. I watched the characters obsessively trying to find different paths to happiness, love, and satisfaction. But all their desperate efforts were all void of moral guidance, and even channelled by ‘justified’ immorality. And it made me realise how much we need God as a compass and anchor in our love lives.

I think we can choose to view marriage in two general ways:

  1. Marriage is a human construct, created by us to satisfy our needs and to more clearly show our loyalty to our chosen partner.
  2. Marriage is a spiritual institution created by God to fulfil our individual vocations to love and commit selflessly and unconditionally.

The latter may seem more challenging and perhaps old-fashioned and bizarre, especially in a time when everything needs evident stimulus to be believed and followed. The former appears to be an easier, more convenient fit to our obvious tendencies and desires. However, therein lies the deception. Somehow we fall prey to the idea that the more we have mastery over our lives and selves, the easier and more blissful our lives will be. In fact, the more we push away God’s plans for our sexuality, the more confused and complicated life gets. Drama, drama, drama. But who actually wants all the heartache, pain, and bewilderment that builds up within and around us when we decide to listen to our own logic, to our impulsiveness? Why not allow ourselves to find greater peace. And this does not mean we should view our sexual desires and attractions as hazardous parts of ourselves that should be smothered or caged. Not at all! They too were created by God, in all the beauty and splendour of our destined purpose. However, the Church also explains that this type of love should be experienced and enjoyed to the full (i.e. sex) within certain boundaries… within marriage. But how is marriage, like our sexual entities, created by God? How is marriage a part of His divine plan for us?

“Husbands, love your wives,

even as Christ loved the Church…

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother

and be joined to his wife,

and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery,

but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.”

Ephesians 5

Here St Paul draws a metaphorical parallel between spouses, and Christ and the Church. He literally places spousal commitment on the same level as Christ’s relationship with the Church. So, if marriage is our vocation, we are called to commit to the same devotion as Christ had for us, His Church, when He sacrificed Himself for us 2000 years ago… That is no flimsy analogy. But can we achieve this calling if we view marriage as a man-made institution? If we take note of general contemporary marriage and family life, it doesn’t seem so. We need to fix our gaze on Our Creator within our marriages, on His guidance and teaching; these may seem lofty, but He only expects us to try our best. And when we do, the harmony of our vocational destinies will reign.

‘God’s mystery ‘’remains transcendent with respect to [the spousal] analogy as with respect to any other analogy, which we try to express in human language’’ (TOB 95b:1). At the same time, however, there ‘’is no other human reality which corresponds more, humanly speaking, to that divine mystery’’ (JP II homily, 12/30/88).’

An Introduction to the Theology of the Body, pp.9, Christopher West

Here Saint Pope John Paul II describes the sexual union between spouses as a sign of God’s spiritual and eternal mystery. Through spousal love within marriage we are given the beautiful means to imitate God as creator, for we become co-creators with Him. Co-creators of selfless love and of new life. However, sexual attraction and union should not be the key focus or obsession of our lives, as it is unfortunately portrayed and promoted in the secular realm. Instead of an idol it should be an icon. Sexual attraction and union between spouses is the best analogy for God’s divine mystery.

I recently read a beautifully written Curious Catholic article by Caryn Tennant (The Tax Collector), and I found something of relevance for this article. She says, “Marriage, religious life, and single life are to be lived out as gifts for others.” And therein the wondrous beauty is found. By allowing God to mould marriage into a mutual act of giving, our flawed constructs and self-centred expectations fall away. By keeping a gaze fixed upon the Lord’s teachings and example, we unite with our destiny and desire to truly love in a way which nourishes our beings. At times God’s plan seems daunting and difficult, and it is often a challenge against the tide.Once we take the first step of abandonment and dedication to His best intentions for us, the liberation of our spirits is well worth it all.

Our hearts belong with our Creator.

 


About the AuthorProfile Amber

Amber Chinnapper

Many times I have felt born in the wrong era. But God destined me for this one, so here I am! I am a woman who has learning to embrace and enjoy her many facets. I am artitsic, wild, traditional, and I feel deeply about the essence and truth of our individual beings. I am inspired by Mary the Mother of Jesus; classic literature and poetry; the vintage and the simple; Native American wisdom and connections to God and His creation. I need to spend time in nature and open spaces, and although I have recently moved to New Zealand, I love South Africa, my home soil. I have an inner yearning to create and to embrace health and fitness. Family life is incredibly important to me.