I was working in the lab one day, a few years ago. A graduate student from the Medical school was also in the lab, using a piece of our equipment. (I hope I haven't told this story before -- if I have, I can't find it on the blog) He was young, but I believe he had been married and divorced before. He told me that he was ready to start looking for someone else. He then asked me if being a Christian had helped in my marriage.
I stumbled over the answer; I hadn't thought about it before, but I told him that I thought it changed the way we treated each other as husband and wife. I was kind of disappointed in that answer, and over the years, I've thought about it. I think it does make a difference, and while it's not the only way to have a successful marriage, I believe that putting your faith to practice in your partnership will strengthen it.
One of the lectionary readings for this week is 1 Corinthians 13. I've heard many times that that passage is used "incorrectly" at weddings. Many people seem to be of the opinion that weddings are not the "appropriate place" to read about agape love.
Why would people think that?
I do understand that we often associate eros -- romantic love -- with marriage, and why shouldn't we? It's a wonderful gift between two people. Why is it, though, that we think that it can be the only kind of love in a marriage?
We think of agape love as love modeled after the way God loves us. It is the kind of love that is expected when we are told to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Mark 12:30-31)
Who is your neighbor? We think of Jesus meaning that our neighbor is the child in Indonesia who needs food, or the teenager living on the street, doing drugs. Why is it that we don't think of our neighbor as the person sitting at the dinner table with us?
Not only do I think 1 Corinthians 13 is appropriate for a wedding, but I think it ought to be mandatory reading.