Monday, January 13, 2014

Settling for What's Natural

Recently, several of my FB friends have been posting links to a blog by a guy named Matt Walsh, posts I enjoy reading but often hesitate to share on my own page because of his tone. Although I usually agree wholeheartedly with what he says, I frequently take issue with the snarky, mean-spirited tone in which he says it.

For instance, he recently responded to a sarcastic, self-aggrandizing critic who wrote trying to explain to him that monogamy isn't natural. His sarcastic, self-aggrandizing response ended with his calling the critic an imbecile.

But the points he made were excellent ones. Of course, monogamy isn't natural, he said. It's above natural. It's supernatural. A healthy monogamous relationship requires us to use the qualities human beings possess that make us something more than the animals.

I had a long conversation yesterday with an old Jersey friend, and one topic that came up is how curious it is that it has become the expected norm -- especially among young people, and even among Christian young people -- to live together before getting married. The argument, I expect (for the Christians at least), is that they know they are going to be getting married -- they're probably already engaged . . . essentially, anyway, if not officially. It just makes so much more sense to live in one place until then. They save money on rent, on gas going to see each other . . . they're going to spend all their time together at one or the other apartment anyway, right? It's just so much more convenient.

And I get this argument. My husband and I had this exact conversation concerning our living arrangements the year we were engaged. We "wasted" money on a dorm room for me when I spent almost all my time at his apartment. It was quite inconvenient.

But here's the thing: who said God calls us to a life that's convenient? To a life that's easy? Or "natural"? In fact, when I read what Jesus tells us, it seems completely the opposite. We're supposed to expect it to be hard -- and to be quite different from what our nature is pulling us toward.

Because in the end, marriage . . . no, let's go further. The Christian life is not about life getting easier. It's not about God making us happy people. It's not even about God making us good people. It's about God making us His people. About fixing the broken relationship between Him and humanity, one person at a time. And being in a right relationship with God requires an accurate and intimate knowledge of who He is and of who we are.

What if the only way we can understand who we are is to be frustrated by our limitations? What if God asks us to do more than we're capable of to show us how far we are from Him? What if He intentionally calls us to a higher life than we can live "naturally" . . . what if He purposefully gives us more than we can handle on our own . . . what if he knowingly puts us in situations where a supernatural, spiritual behavior is required from beings whose spirits are dead, just to reveal our dead spirits to us -- so we turn to Him for new life?

Because ultimately, getting that relationship right is the only way to be really happy.  Or to be good. Or maybe even to be "natural". But even if it made us none of these things in this earthly life, it would still be God's goal, and so we know it's something even better.

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