Tag Archives: marriage

Some Thoughts on Valentine’s Day and Love

Uh oh. It seems that the date for this column should probably indicate its content. Rats! If the whole thing reads like it was written by a Valentine’s Day grinch, I should just plead guilty. 

It’s almost certainly good for husbands like me to have a deadline that calls for something on the order of flowers, gifts, candy, seriously over-priced cards, etc. I have difficulty appreciating the Madison Avenue manipulation, but I don’t doubt that clods like me need the shove. 

It’s not particularly what the pseudo-holiday has turned into that bugs me; what really bothers me is the reminder that so much in our society that masquerades in second-rate song lyrics and steamy TV as “luuuuuv” bears no resemblance to the real thing. 

I listened as a famous singer on a TV morning show opined that he and his wife had just split up because “the sparkle wasn’t there anymore.” He was way past fifteen, so “puppy  love” was no excuse. He evidently had actually believed too many of his own songs and was confusing love with “warm fuzzies” and body heat, the kind of “luuuuv” that bears precious little resemblance to genuine commitment that really means “in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.” The love god was originally an old Greek one, Eros, as Sheldon Vanauken (“The False Sanction or Eros”), C. S. Lewis, and I’m sure others, have noted. Eros has never lacked for worshipers. 

Bowing before this god, our society has unleashed a demon who offers easy sanction for anyone wishing to commit almost any wrong, shatter any vow, break faith with God and society, and, in the sordid process, break the hearts of countless spouses and children. And the “luuuuv” god blesses the whole mess brought on by unvarnished selfishness. 

How does our society respond? When we should turn away in nausea or shed tears, we turn to tabloids and gossip magazines that glamorize the carnage. 

God help us to be both wise and merciful. When we fail in our marriages to love as we should—and we fail often—may we turn contrite hearts to our spouses and our God as we seek his grace and seek renewed power to share with each other our Lord’s genuine mercy and forgiveness and love. If we can’t share those things with our mates, I doubt that what we’ll share with others will be worth very much. 

Oh, and let’s be merciful, too, to those who have fallen and failed seriously in this regard, and whose genuine sorrow shows that they know it, lest we find ourselves looking down our noses when we need to look inside and realize that we too are totally dependent upon mercy and grace every moment. 

Fellows, you really ought to invest in a card and maybe some flowers or candy, too. (My wife prefers cash.) But your gift will mean a whole lot more if your beloved knows that behind it is the kind of genuine, unselfish love that helps with dishes and diaper-changing before it forks over the flowers. 



Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Most Important Guest at Any Wedding Is . . .

I was thinking recently about a long-ago wedding—the one Jesus attended at Cana of Galilee, the same one in which he became the wine-maker for the feast. And that reminded me of another wedding or two. 

I’m told that when my maternal grandparents decided to get married, they hitched a horse to the buckboard and rattled down the road one evening to the preacher’s house. He came out with his Bible, stood beside the wagon, said a few traditional words, and asked the important questions. They each responded, “I do,” and . . . they were. Married, that is. That’s about all there was to it, but I guess it was enough. The marriage begun by that wedding lasted for over six decades. 

Whenever I hear a couple today telling me, “We just want a simple wedding,” my first thought is, “Oh, dear people, you don’t know what simple is. In our society, we rarely see any such thing, and, unless you want to be married almost immediately, I’ll guarantee you that it will grow, and grow, and grow (‘metastasize’ is the word I’m tempted to use), but simple is a worthy, if elusive, goal.” 

The wedding author Robert Fulghum wrote about a few years ago was never intended to be in the “simple” category. From the very first, the bride’s family pulled out all the stops. Lavish pre-wedding parties, the largest and most ornate church in the city, a wedding dress that cost more than the annual budgets of most small countries, enough attendants to defeat the Germans at Normandy, a full orchestra, and every wedding “trimming” known to womankind. It was a big one, a bona fide occasion of state that would make most royal families envious. 

Maybe that’s why the bride was even more nervous than most brides. Nervous, she started nibbling—a lot—during the hours before the ceremony. As she walked down the long aisle in her lavish dress, the gown was white, but the guests noticed that the bride herself seemed distinctly green. Just before she got to the altar, she stopped, greener than ever, bent over, and . . . tossed her cookies, setting in stone the one memory that every guest would carry with them forever from that royal occasion. If Elvis himself had later shown up to sing, the bride’s retching would be what everyone remembered.

When an engaged couple sits in my office, I try to remind them that a big wedding and a big marriage have not a thing to do with each other, and that most of their effort should be spent on preparing for the marriage.

I’m not sure what sort of miracle Jesus might have worked to save the day at the wedding I just told you about, but the fact that he cared so much about that couple and their special time so long ago at Cana tells me that he cares about every facet of our lives. As the Lord enters not just our feasts but every aspect of our lives, he loves us, he cares for us, and his mercy and grace are always with us. May we never forget to invite this most important and loving Guest to be marvelously present in each moment of our lives.





Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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