The Radical Ideal of Marriage

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Guest post by Mark & Ursula (Tink) Boyd, Chaircouple, Australian Catholic Marriage & Family Council.

Jesus knows that we live in a fallen world and is more than willing to help us in our marriages and all our relationships.

“And Jesus answered them saying, ‘Yes, but he wrote that because you were so hard-hearted.  But God’s design at creation was for male and female to be one. Therefore, a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Then the two would become one flesh so that they are no longer two, but one. So what God has put together let no person separate.” (Mark 10:5-9)

Marriage was as much of a challenge in Jesus’ society as it is in ours – and it broke down there as well. The religious authorities responded to this situation with legalism (if only we can get the rules right…), the disciples with pragmatism (these things happen, so move on to the next marriage…) but Jesus with a breathtaking idealism. He refers back to the ideal offered in Genesis before the coming of sin as the model on which marriage should be based. Is this realistic? Yes and no. Any normal person who has suffered a divorce, any normal person who is celibate, any normal person who has suffered widowhood can speak about how deeply the desire to bond with a spouse goes in the human person. The pain of the loss or the lack is felt in body, soul and spirit. Often in the rough and tumble of daily life, ordinary married couples do not realize the depth to which they are bonded to their spouse. If you doubt that statement, just talk to someone recently widowed. So when Jesus offers his radical ideal, he is offering something that is written in our flesh and bones.

But the reality of our lives is that we are marred by and mired in sin. It is the trip-wire over which we stumble as we try to relate with anyone, but especially a spouse. Jesus knows this. It was to deal with sin that he came. So when he offers the ideal for marriage, the ideal for any relationship for that matter, he is not expecting us to do it on our own. In any relationship, but especially in marriage, he is the third in our midst. We need to bring the attitude of the child, ever ready to receive his grace that we may treat each other with tenderness and love. And if our marriage should break down, our relationship falter, we should know he is still there with us, holding us as our hearts and lives break, ready with his grace.

Guided Reflection:

“Marriage of Mary and Joseph.” From an early 1900s Marriage Certificate.

Rest in the love of your God.

While you are resting in God ponder the close relationships of your life. How does each person reveal the face of God to you? What is it that you love about each of them?

What do you reveal to each one of them? What is it that they love about you?

In the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of each relationship, can you find the grace of God at work?

Rest in the love of your God.


Loving God, you have made us to find our fulfillment in loving relationships. In our marriages, in our families, in our communities, in our friendships give us your grace and love to profoundly care for each other. When sin and failure threatens our faithfulness, give us the wisdom and courage of your Spirit to love as Jesus loves. Amen. 


Originally published by the Canberra Declaration for Awakening, daily devotionals for Australia’s annual month of prayer and repentance.

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