Thursday, February 5, 2009

Marriage as Role, Function, or Covenant?

Marriage is a sacrament in the Christian Church. Even though the Church holds this sacrament as a universal one, there are diverse views as how the marriage is to function.

Some believe that the roles and functions are defined by gender and gender determines the role. Their view takes the Scripture literally in the wife being submissive to the husband. The serpent beguiled Eve first, so, this means that Eve must submit, as she is easily decieved. This view sees "order" as primary. While there is nothing wrong with order, is there something much more important at issue when it concerns marriage?

Marriage is also understood as a covenant. Covenant was a ancient binding agreement of life for life. The exhange of life of life for life is not based on role, function or gender, but on commitment of life. This way of viewing marriage is understood in Jonathan and David's relationship. Their relationship was a protective and intimate one. Their relationship was not based on gender identification, but on what was important in the relationship. Jonathan defended David from his own father, King Saul. Saul's jealousy threatened David's life and Jonathan sought to defend, enlighten, help, and fight for David.

Those who function on an honor/shame basis, which is an "ordered" way of understanding, would see the wife's role as bringing honor or shame to the husband, but never the other way around. Shame is useful to "put someone in their place", in socially conforming to social norms. Although our culture does not function as much along those lines as in the past, there is something to be said about raising a child's conscience in regards to society and responsibility. This is where the family is important in educating the child's conscience.

I find that this is not the best way to understand marriage, as marriage should be based on friendship first and foremost, not on "forms" and confomity to a cultural norm. Relationships that are based on friendship are not defined by role and function. It is a relationship that is based on trust, respect, honor and defense. Such relationships go beyond race, gender, politics, etc. as these relationships are defined by the two people involved.

No comments: