Guest column by Tobin Hitt
The New Haven Register recently ran a new feature where they set up, and then sort of journalistically chronicle, a subsequent date.
The first two participants were sincere and open and good sports about it all. They graded their date, described their mutual rediscovery of kissing, and even handicapped the weighty possibility of a second date.
This feature was not as staged as the TV matchmaking that you see, if you have ever channel surfed.
I confess that I read the whole article, for pastoral purposes of course.
It ended up that the guy wanted a second date and the gal- bless her heart- said “My kids come first.”
She rendered this statement with a biblical like certitude and finality, but it struck as a sort of “the dog ate my homework” type of thing. I suppose I needed more on her back story. Perhaps there was still hope of reconciling with the father of those kids, her former love.
And for that matter, if kids come first, where does God come in? What about the whole First commandment thing and not having any idols?
And if kids come first, aren’t we needlessly pitting the good idea of filial devotion against the good idea of adult and male and female companionship, the latter of which might even benefit the kids?
It even might have been that God of Israel was trying to do his matchmaking thing. He put together Rebecca and Issac by the graced event of Rebecca watering not just the folks in Issac’s desert caravan, but the camels too. God also inspired his gal to do a little flirting with her veil, and before we know it, Issac and his people are sold (See Genesis 24, particularly verse 46) and the wedding menu is being planned.
It gets even clearer with how God orchestrated the love between Jacob and Rachel. They meet at Rachel’s daily well, where she waters her Dad’s flocks. Jacob’s just happens upon this very well after a long journey to meet her father, Laban. They were so taken up with each other, right from the start, that God gave Jacob the strength to roll away the stone covering the well all by himself, so all the various flocks may be quickly watered and they can be alone and share their ‘like you mean it’ kiss of a lifetime which leaves Jacob surrendered and crying for joy (Genesis 28, particularly verse 10).
I think in this modern age of endless choices a whole generation and a half of us (anyone come of age after 1960 say) seem to have a great difficulty in accepting and internalizing the idea of two people brought together by God, allotted and assigned to each other for one marriage, for better or worse, for their whole lives.
It’s a radical notion, but then again so is the notion of staying single to serve God, and so is the idea of everlasting love itself.
Think of all the married relationships that could have been saved if one or both parties to the marriage remembered that it was the Holy Spirit of God that likely brought them together (perhaps 10% of marriages are off from the get go), and then it was by the grace of God that they did the whole wedding and family thing.
A wise father toasted his newly married daughter this way “You have to believe that the Lord put you together in the first place.” (“Modern Love” NYT, by Sarah Healy. Oct. 30, 2011 p. 6.)
Think of Hosea forgiving his wandering wife Gomer. Think of Gerald Ford staying with Betty, before the clinic. Think of the aging spouse with all his faculties staying with a spouse who has dementia, after a pastor says it’s OK to leave.
I’m glad Register has embarked on this sort of cheesy new feature on matchmaking. It serves to remind us Christian folks that God does it better than anyone. It also prompts all of us to remember the various relationships we have received from God, and to internalize that these are often the most fertile and ripe faith fields, where we often reap just what we sow.