Christ In Winter: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter
When I was a campus minister, a couple asked me to do their wedding. They were not a part of our campus ministry “church,” but that was not unusual. Many people want the preacher and the church only when they want to marry. I was used to that.
As we talked, though, I got a surprise. Usually couples want to talk only about the wedding, not about marriage. But this pair was quite willing to talk about why they wanted to marry. Eager to, in fact. We didn’t get very far in that conversation, though. There was only one reason to marry, and that was all they-especially the prospective groom-wanted to talk about—LOVE.
He loved her. She loved him. They loved love. That’s all there was to it. Nothing more to say.
That’s okay. Just about all of us are that way when we are twenty years old. Dealing with twenty-year-olds all the time, I understood that. But there seemed to be a different dimension to their definition and experience of love--a compulsion, an unhealthy obsession.
I tried to be open-minded, though. Not everyone expresses things the way I do. Maybe I was just misunderstanding.
We came to a parting, though, when the prospective groom insisted that I include in the wedding a statement that they would always be together in their same bodies, forever, still able to engage in physical love in those same bodies despite death. I agreed that nothing can separate us from the love of God, but that was not what he was talking about. He wasn’t interested in the love of God. They didn’t even need the love of God, because they had each other, and always would.
They left in a huff, because I did not understand their love. I felt bad about that, because I did understand their desperation, and I was willing to work with them to help them move toward a healthier relationship-with each other and with the source of love. I have to admit, though, that I felt relief, too, because I doubted that I had the skill to provide that help.
I think it is in Until We Have Faces that C.S. Lewis points out that if we love God first, then we cannot love another person too much. But if we don’t love God first, love of a person can become idolatry.
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