Does the Boundless blogger consider his first anniversary a “miracle” because he or his spouse nearly died last year and only miraculously survived? No. Did one of them commit adultery and then repent, restoring the marriage? No.
No, our Boundless blogger considers his first anniversary a “miracle” because, basically, his wife didn’t divorce him for being imperfect.
Very early in this blog’s existence, I wrote a post in which I said:
I’ve noticed that it’s fairly common in evangelical circles for a man to more or less prostrate himself at the feet of his wife’s saintly goodness, proclaiming some mixture of the following:
- I don’t deserve my wife.
- I was a mess before I met my wife.
- If it weren’t for my wife, I don’t know where I’d be right now.
- I don’t know what she sees in me.
- I’m an idiot, but for some reason, she married me.
Lo and behold, Boundless has provided us with a real-life example of this type of talk! Blogger Nathan Zacharias commemorated his first anniversary with a post disparaging himself and extolling the beneficence of his wife for not divorcing him already. Says he:
Sarah and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. She’s stuck with me 367 days, and that’s a miracle. No, seriously, it is.
No longer can I focus on just caring for my needs. No longer can I get by with looking at a situation by how I see it. [AH: Syntax doctor says what?] Instead, I look at it through her eyes, too. That means I see myself from her perspective. And I have to say, the view isn’t always pretty.
I long to serve Sarah in any way, but that doesn’t mean that my selfishness doesn’t rear its ugly head often. There are plenty of times when I have to tell Sarah I’m sorry for something I did or didn’t do.
The ring on my finger and the vow in my heart sheds light on my negative traits often. And so when I tell people I don’t deserve Sarah, I’m not joking.
Why Sarah chose me, I’ll never know. And as a I told someone close to me the other day, I deserve Sarah even less now than I did a year ago. But she loves me anyway.
I don’t like seeing my finger without the ring. My finger looks bare without it. And that’s what I’d be without Sarah. [AH: He would be bare without his wife? "Bare" as in exposed, or "bare" as in I-meant-to-say-lost-or-lonely?]
There’s more, but you get the picture.
Okay, I am not married, so maybe I’m just being a Neanderthal on this topic, but is it not possible to express gratefulness for a spouse without TOTALLY PROSTRATING ONESELF AT HER FEET?
More importantly, does Nathan Zacharias believe that his wife would write a similar article expressing the following?
- how unworthy she is of her husband
- that she has no idea why he married her
- that their one-year anniversary is a miracle
- that she deserves him even less than she did at the time of their wedding
- how ugly she sees herself when she looks at herself from his point of view
- that she often has to apologize to him for things she did or didn’t do
I mean, maybe she would. Maybe she does see herself as so unworthy of her husband that she would make a public proclamation of it. Maybe she considers her husband a prince without equal. Or…maybe she agrees with him. (As a point of comparison, I don’t recall Suzanne Gosselin, Boundless’s most recently married female blogger, ever writing a comparable post at her one-year anniversary. I also don’t ever recall Candice Watters opining similarly about her marriage with Steve back when they wrote for Boundless. Chelsey Munneke, Boundless’s recently engaged blogger who believes weight loss for a wedding is an unnecessary stress, has never spoken of her fiance this way, either. Rather, she believes her man should love her for her, daughter of the King that she is. Google-fu experts, feel free to prove my memory wrong.)
I know that it’s popular in evangelical circles to speak of everything in terms of being “sacrificial.” Sacrificial love, sacrificial serving, no one deserves anything, we’re all sanctified losers, boo hoo hoo, etc. But this just isn’t a healthy attitude to have in a functional, earth-bound relationship. Of course no one “deserves” anything; that’s a given. Humility and tolerance are important in a marriage for sure. But acting like those traits in a spouse are miraculous is a problem. Not all that long ago, those were expected in a marriage. That these are no longer givens but miracles just speaks to how weak marriage has become in America and in the American church.
Furthermore, even if Zacharias used “miracle” for hyperbolic effect, it is still problematic because it accepts modern divorce culture as legitimate. If he is joking that he is grateful that his wife didn’t frivolously divorce him, then he accepts that this is a realistic possibility for him. His wording at least suggests this: he doesn’t mention anything about her honoring her vows despite having to live with his imperfections. Instead, he chalks up the endurance of their marriage to her love for him. Well, Nathan, what is going to happen when your wife doesn’t feel “love” anymore? And are you expecting to be even less worthy of her after two years of marriage, or does the unworthiness sort of level off after a while? What happens when your wife realizes that she’s been loving someone so unworthy of her affection? Time to start apologizing for more things you didn’t do, I guess.
Do Christians really want to see stronger families? Do Christians really want to see positive changes in society? Less poverty, less abortion, less welfare, fewer single moms, fewer divorces? Then they really need to begin with marriage, and not just badgering unmarried 28-year-olds about joining eHarmz or making all the husbands do “The Love Dare” or giving purity rings to 15-year-olds who will not realistically marry for twenty more years.