The Matrix of Marriage
I was asked by friend Tyler Ward to write a chapter for his e-book: “Marriage Hacks: 25 ways to make love last!” which you can download here: Books.NoiseTrade.com/tylerward/marriage-hacks
The following is my contribution:
Matrix – Urban Dictionary – “A computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into a battery”
I confess I am one of those ‘religious folk’ who grew up reading the Scriptures more to resolve my internal guilty-conscience-regulator than to learn or hear anything. For some of us, years of absence from the legalism of ‘quiet time’ allowed our give-a-damns time to heal and awaken desires for exploration that emerged from the inside. Interactions with voices of intelligent kindness and compelling authenticity outside our own experience and traditions blew fresh breath into the smoke of our confusion and disdain, initially fanning embers of careful curiosity into Cheshire-grin acknowledgement that we had missed something ‘good’.
Turns out we are in a relationship with a God who by nature submits, and somewhere near the center of God’s relentless affection for you and me is submission to our brokenness that God encounters in our hearts, souls and minds. This is not self-less submission, but self-giving and other-centered. It is respectful of both the wonder of this high-order creation that is a human being, and of their capacity for self-deception and lie-enshrouded power to devastate.
Ask any parent who has even a modicum of health about their love for their child and you will be told that this love is unconditional, dependent on and originating in the one loving. However, relationship, the mystery of how this love is expressed, is not unconditional, nor would we ever want it to be. It is one thing that you love me, another altogether that you see me. When a person dies, while it may not affect your love for them, I guarantee it will affect your relationship with them. By its very nature a real relationship creates a space of interaction in which knowing the ‘other’ and their choices, character and circumstance actually matters. It is a desperately beautiful sorrow that relationship means the other can say ‘no’ or believe a lie or be involved in accidents or struggle with illness or addiction, or kiss you, or refuse to talk, or hide secrets, or leave you a note or express kindness or forgive or put up and take down walls.
But we human beings generally are a fearful lot, embedding our drive for certainty in expressions of power rather than in the risk of trust and relationship. We create (dream up) institutional systems and organizations of hierarchical power be they religious, social, ideological, political, educational, financial etc, in order to extend our desperate need to control. Sadly, as these evolve, they often use human beings as batteries. We created the Matrix and without the empowering presence of human beings, any Matrix has less life than a rock. Even with the best of intentions, the Matrix is still the Matrix. We have populated the entire planet with them.
One day, a group Matrix guardians arranged a little meeting with Jesus, ostensibly to air specific grievances they were having with the ‘boys in the band,’ the motley crew of undisciplined and uneducated disciples following Jesus. Seems this rag-tag gang of malcontents weren’t very good at keeping the rules that had long been part of the Sabbath Matrix. The religious systems forming around Sacred Scriptures had effectively reduced the Word of God to a set of defensible propositions, in this particular instance revolving around the very holy subject of the day of God’s rest. The Sabbath Matrix had been developed over centuries, had become increasingly complex, complete with roles, expectations and duties, and provided a significant element of job-security for the experts.
Keep in mind that Jesus is God comfortable inside his own skin. And Jesus cares as much for these ‘protectors of the Holy’ as he does for all those who have been turned into batteries. So, with a twinkle in his eye and in one sentence he dismantles the entire cosmos as we have known it and reveals that our perception is fundamentally a lie.
“The Human Being was not made for (to serve) the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for (to serve) the Human Being!”
Did you see it, or did you only feel it? Everything changed.
The Human Being was not made for (to serve) the Matrix, any Matrix is made for (to serve) the Human Being.
The Human Being was not made for (to serve the Matrix of…) Marriage, Marriage was made for (to serve) the Human Being.
Incrementally, as the dawn approaches so too does the realization that ‘you’ are more essential and significant than singleness or marriage or any institution or Matrix that has been constructed around them. They exist to serve you, not you them, and for them to do that well they must be authentic expressions of who you uniquely are and then must change as you change. Apart from the life of the butterfly itself, the chrysalis has no purpose or reason for existing. To believe otherwise is to grossly underestimate the grandeur of your humanity. Having established this, we can begin a coherent conversation about each Matrix, even the Matrix of Marriage.
Photo credit: Bill Dahl - http://www.billdahl.net/articles/bill-dahl-photography/