A while ago I thought about how we don’t get to choose our families. We’re born into a family and we’re basically stuck with them (in most cases). But there is one family relationship which is different: marriage. Marriage is the creation of a new family. (Note: I’m not specifically thinking of children here as many do when referring to family, though of course they may be included later on.) That’s why “a man shall leave his father and mother” (Genesis 2:24). He is leaving the family in which he was raised in order to start his own family. As I believe most of my readers will be aware, the majority of marriages outside of modern Western culture have been arranged by families. Even when those entering the marriage have some input, in many cases they may barely be acquainted before their wedding. To those of us in the West, this may seem bizarre and highly undesirable. However, if marriage is understood as the beginning of a family, I believe it begins to make more sense.
In our culture, marriage has become (almost) exclusively about “love” (that is, having a sentimental feeling and/or desire toward another person). We date for a long time in attempt to determine if we truly “love” the other person and if we’re compatible. The idea of creating a family is often an after thought. (I might argue that people think about having kids in a marriage more than starting a family.) To us, marriage is what you do with someone you decide you like enough that you want to spend the rest of your life with them.
I think if marriage is viewed in terms of creating a family, then you are wise to choose to try and make it work as well as possible. Divorce would be as serious as, and arguably should be as rare as, disowning another family member. However if it’s about how we feel toward our spouse, then divorce seems like more of an option when we’re not “feeling it”. (I think all this gets at the core of most everything I’ve seen written about marriage.)
As I mentioned in a previous post, this could well explain in part the rise of homosexuality. If marriage is about “love”, then why shouldn’t two people of the same sex be able to get married if they love each other? However if marriage is about creating a new family, then it’s easy to see the idea of homosexual marriage as nonsensical or even offensive.
I’m not arguing what view of marriage to take here. I’m just sharing some of my thoughts in my process of trying to understand marriage. (I’m not sure if what I said here will even make sense to anyone else.)