Christian marriages should model the love portrayed in Scripture
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
When Paul says that love “believes all things” his words πάντα πιστεύει do not connote blind acceptance. No, the Greek verb πιστεύω suggests trust and having reasons to trust. Spouses trust, not just that the other means it and is not lying when he/she says “I promise to love you in good times and in bad”, but that they and their spouse are actually made for that kind of loving by our Creator.
Written in our very nature is a sexual complementarity by which a man or woman is only completed by giving himself or herself to one of the opposite sex, so that “the two become one flesh” and through that “one in spirit”; we enjoy marriage, we delight in it, because we know that we are made precisely as ‘other-oriented’, fulfilled only by giving ourselves to another of the opposite sex.
Here we experience the three stages of what I have previously called “the divine mathematics”: that 1+1 = 2 when a couple is first courting; that then by grace and promises, by marital union and married life, 1+1 = 1; and that finally, more often than not, by grace and generosity, by that same marital union and married life, 1 + 1 = 3 and even 4, 5, 6 and more.
So in saying “love believes all things” Christians are not saying love makes lovers irrational, that Christian lovers believe any and every foolish thing. No, true love opens us up to understanding and appreciating hard and wonderful things, things that give us deep and abiding and ultimate joy; counterfeit love and lack of love leave us chasing after passing experiences of intimacy and pleasure, engaging in self-protective strategies of non-commitment, furtiveness and judgmentalism (cf. Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia 115).
In trusting in God and in each other married couples let go of the all-too-common struggles for power in human relationships, the morbid battles for self-will that so pollute contemporary culture. As Pope Francis teaches here, “Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess, or dominate everything.” It frees us to discover our identity and individuality within the context of self-donation and interdependence, rather than through self-invention and rivalry.
Love, Paul teaches, believes all things; but it also hopes all things. So, says Pope Francis, “Love does not despair of the future.” (AL 116) Trusting in divine Providence couples find that God may “make crooked lines straight and draw some good even from the evils we endure in this world.”
God of Love, help us to advance your Gospel of Life and Love in the face of many hostile cultural forces and legal changes, to be a voice for the voiceless, and to ensure we are there to serve them now more than ever.
Together we pray for a renewal of families that ‘believe all things and hope all things’, becoming channels of your loving grace to our world, and inspire others to follow you ever more closely.
31 Days Prayer Points
- Pray for the restoration of FAMILY, FATHERHOOD and MOTHERHOOD in our nation. Malachi 4:6
- Pray for healing for MARRIAGES, protection for CHILDREN and restoration of the sanctity of LIFE. Isaiah 58:12
- Pray for Revival, Renewal and Reformation for Australia, that our nation might return to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14
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