Transcribed from the sermon preached June 19, 2016
The Reverend Max Lynn, Pastor
Scripture Readings: I Corinthians 13:1-13, Song of Solomon 4:9-16, James 1:1-6
Now I see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
Dave Barry is not totally sold on the idea of father’s day. He says fathers don’t have the same parenting skills as mothers. “Women are better than men at:
Dressing and feeding children
Remembering birthdays of children
Remembering the names of children
Remembering the total quantity of children and therefore less likely to leave one of them behind at the turnpike service plaza
That is why Mother’s Day is such a huge deal. The message of Mother’s Day is “Mothers are amazingly good at mothering. They deserve a special day whereas the message of Father’s Day is, we are only doing this because we have Mother’s day.”
Today we pick up the second in our series of sermons on marriage. Last week we noted that Paul would prefer people to remain unmarried. He felt people could be more effective Christians, more flexible and able to respond to the needs around them. We noted that some very awesome people were single: folks like Teresa, Paul, and Francis, Buddha and Jesus were single. Marriage is not the only fulfilling relationship we can have. We talked about birth control and the rising age of adulthood being primary factors in the rise of sexual relations outside the marriage relationship. We noted the problems this has help increase, more children born or raised out of wedlock and therefore more children living in poverty.
I used the example of a certain birth control method being 95% effective and randomly guessed that even if used well that most couples would have a good chance of becoming pregnant in a couple of years. So after worship someone mentioned quietly, “I got pregnant on the very first time.” So there you have it! Most people or most young people do not use birth control perfectly. So it is best to just hold off until you are ready for the responsibility. So while Paul wishes people would stay single, he concedes that many will have to get married to avoid trouble.
So today we come to the honeymoon and the transition beyond the honeymoon. Again most of the general principles here apply to other relationships: new roommates, new jobs, new colleagues. We have a honeymoon period for those relationships, too. Once couples decide to get married, there is usually some kind of psychological blinders that pop up; it is similar to the numbness we experience in the first part of grief. We say all sorts of romantic things like, “you complete me.” It is like when you start out on a roller coaster and the chain kicks in and starts yanking you up to the top of the first drop off: that is not really a good time for most people to start discussing construction short cuts at amusement parks. You are locked in and you are not getting off now. Couples just don’t want to hear it. We think it is God and nature’s way of assuring people get together and make babies to keep the species alive.
And besides, each person is usually putting up their best front. The guy is opening doors, giving compliments, helping with chores, being polite to the mother-in law. The girl is wearing high heels, cute dresses and pretending to watch and enjoy sports. Soon enough it becomes beer on the barcalounger for him, sweat pants and slippers for her.
But the putting up a good front is usually superficial. If we have eyes to see, we can see who it is we are going to marry. But usually we block off a bunch of the negative stuff, or we don’t realize that the traits that attract us to them will also become annoying. What is really annoying is the fact that these traits that are now annoying are part of what attracted us to them… so it is our problem too. What is it about me that is attracted to a person with this annoying trait? A woman once gave the silent treatment to her husband for an entire week. At the end he declared, “Hey we’ve been getting along quite well lately.”
There is a bunch of stuff that we don’t foresee because we haven’t been around them enough. Like do you like the toilet paper to roll in or roll out? Does he leave the top off the toothpaste? Or the toilet? Or drink out of the carton and leave it in the frig with two drops left, or sing YMCA in the shower. Those irritating habits start to wear on us:
Dave Barry, an expert on family life, says that even Romeo, if he had spent enough time under the balcony gazing up worshipfully at Juliet, would eventually have noticed her protruding nostril hairs.
So, Dave in Dave Barry Turns Forty has a quiz to determine how bad your marriage is.
- What do you and your spouse having in common?
- We have essentially the same moral values, political views, and aesthetic judgments.
- We both like Chinese food.
- We are both protein-based life-forms.
- You are most likely to share your true feelings with your spouse when you are feeling:
- Sodium pentothal
- Men: What did you buy your wife on her last birthday?
- Nice jewelry.
- A new coffeemaker
- Women: What do you usually wear to bed?
- A silky negligee, makeup, and several strategic dabs of Calvin Klein’s “Night Moan” cologne.
- A cotton nightgown, a hair net, and a small yet distinctive chin smear of Crest Tartar Control” toothpaste.
- A nightgown made of tent-grade flannel; a pair of official National Hockey League Wayne Gretzky Model knee socks; a sufficient number of hair curlers (in the ever-popular, highly seductive Bazooka Bubble Gum Pink) to meet the plastic needs of Western Europe for a decade; and of course “skin moisturizer” that has the same erotic appeal as industrial pump lubricant and has been applied to your face thickly enough to trap small woodland creatures.”
Another common misconception of the courtship and honeymoon stage is the notion that our fiancé may show a few annoying features or warning signs, but we are hopeful and optimistic about our ability to change them. One of the first annoying habits we will need to drop is the habit of thinking we are the ones to take on the responsibility of changing the bad habits or personality traits of our spouse or anyone else for that matter. That is a habit we should drop even when another one of the bad habits of our spouse is the habit of expecting us to take responsibility for changing their annoying habits.
One of the biggest realities we have to come to terms with as the honeymoon period comes to an end is the fact that we married the person we married. They are who they showed us they were and now we have to live with the real person and not the dream person we imagined our hope and goodness would turn them into.
We marry the person we marry for both good and bad reasons. Parts of them make parts of us better and encourage us to be our best. And, by marrying the person we marry, we enter relational patterns that help solidify our bad habits and poor traits. We begin to realize that they not only bring out the best in us but our worst, and that is annoying. On the other hand this recognition is an opportunity to change.
We can ask ourselves what is immature in me that attracted me to the immature in them… and we can grow up into love. Grace is needed all along the way whether we are single, married or divorced, Jesus will not stop loving us. Sometimes some of us need the grace to accept that we have gotten into a relationship that is not healthy. If we are willing to change and grow and the other is not, they are making a choice.
You will never get married if you insist on waiting with open eyes and ears for the perfect person. You will never get married if you insist on waiting until you are perfect. You will fall in love with someone who will help further ingrain your faults and habits. It doesn’t matter if we are looking at marriage or some other family or work relationship: we will be attracted and sucked into relationships that are similar to those in our family of origin.
On the other hand, it is highly likely that the person you are thinking about marrying has some wonderful, God given gifts and strengths, and so do you. At a certain point we have to take a leap of faith and risk commitment. And then, when we discover the depth of difficulty of living with one particular person, we should forgive ourselves for our willful ignorance and ask for God’s grace and courage to continue forward into the future with this one who we love and have made a covenant with.
 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Let us pray: God of Love, grant us the courage to change the things that can and should be changed, the grace to accept those things that cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.