High School Sweethearts, not. #CERCWeddings
Posted on 3 Oct 2020 by CERC
High school sweethearts. Best friends. Camaraderie.
These are what we are known as to most people. Before we continue with this, let us just give you a picture of how we met in a third person’s voice:
They met when they were teens. She was 16, and he was 17. They were somewhat popular in school. She was known for all the wrong reasons, and he was known for all the right reasons. She was kind of sad, and she got invited to the Christian Fellowship (CF) that this high school’s Christians formed. He was kind of cool. He was already serving as a pianist in that CF. There was where they both started talking. They were compatible. They could hold deep and meaningful conversations about many things together. They have the same type of humour. He knew that he really liked her, so he awkwardly asked her out. It looked a little like how Peter Parker asked Gwen Stacy out in The Amazing Spiderman 1. And the rest is history.
People feel all fluffed and cupcakes inside them when we announce that we are going to get married this year. Some friends were expressing to us how they were so happy that we lasted so long, that we are so loyal to one another. Some people like us so much that we are their favourite couple. We get it. It is not every day that you get to witness a high school sweethearts getting married, and we too are, in some ways, surprised. In some ways, this Paramore song is how we feel about one another:
“Let them wonder how we got this far,
‘cause I don’t really need to wonder at all
Yeah, after all this time,
I’m still into you” — Still into you, Paramore
But what you do not know is how much disappointment, shame and (maybe even) disgust we feel knowing that the tag “high school sweethearts” is our default tag to many. Don’t get us wrong. There is inherently nothing wrong about high school sweethearts. It is true that it takes a certain maturity and loyalty to make this possible. But we are not fond of this tag as we walk into marriage because the idea of “high school sweethearts” and all connotations that come with it are NOT what Jesus intended marriage between a man and woman to be.
We, like many of you, thought that the height of marriage is “you are my best friend” and “you bring the best out of me” and “you make me so happy”. We thought that marriage was created to cure loneliness; after all, didn’t Genesis 2:18 say “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”? Marriage must be for companionship then. How kind is God that he does not want us to feel lonely.
But this is NOT what the bible says. To understand marriage, we have to know what human beings were created for in the beginning.
In the book of Genesis (the first book of the Bible), chapter 1, verses 26 to 28, we read a very important historical event — God created human beings, both male and female. God created many living things, but only human beings were created in His image, after His likeness. If you look closely, God did not just create man and woman to just let them decide their roles and destinies. God created them with a clearly defined purpose, on His terms! Look at the language God used on them — “let them have dominion” and “subdue [creation]”. God created them like little kings under His rule, and tasked them to rule over all the earth. At that time of history, they ruled over all the animals on earth. Just imagine how lions, tigers, elephants have to obey them because human beings were their kings — they were in charge of them all. God also asked them to “be fruitful and multiply”; which is basically to have a lot of children and fill the earth with more human beings so that all of creation will be filled with and subdued by God’s little rulers.
The picture of Genesis is one where God, the Sovereign of all creation, appoints human beings – man and woman – exclusively created in His image to be his vice-regents on earth to spread His glorious rule over all creation by having dominion over it, and procreating so that there would be more vice-regents to carry out this task.
Human beings are created to serve God’s purpose of spreading his glory over all the earth. Marriage is anchored in serving this purpose (Gen 2:15-24). It was never meant to be self-serving, satisfying one’s own need for companionship. Bottom line: that is not what Genesis 1 and 2 are saying.
When you read Genesis 2 properly, you see how Adam was tasked to keep and guard the garden. At that time in history, Adam’s main task was to be a gardener. That was not a small task at all. The world was a big place, and the garden of Eden where God placed Adam was to be the starting place of Project “spread God’s glorious rule over all the earth” for the image of God. When the woman was yet to exist, man could not find a partner among the animals to fulfill the responsibilities incumbent upon him from this Project. This is because animals are not created in the image of God like man is. And this is why God took from Adam a bone and created Eve — another human made in the image of God — to be Adam’s helper. It was not good that he was alone because he could never accomplish such a humongous task alone! Eve was not created to cure Adam’s loneliness but to help him keep and guard the garden and have children with him so that there would be more keepers and guards of the garden and beyond. Adam delighted in Eve (Gen 2:23) not because his feelings of loneliness would have finally been cured, but that in Eve he would now have a helper fit for him to carry out the task God has set upon him to accomplish. It is in this context, that marriage finds its purpose (2:24). The context of the Genesis story gives a much, much grander vision of man and woman in marriage than just the couple’s mutual affection and commitment to one another.
All of us are familiar with the phrase “till death do us part”. It is the ending of a commonplace marriage vow. The ideas of “not giving up on us no matter what”, “being by each other’s side through thick and thin”, and “spending the rest of my life with you” are inherently infused into our perception of this vow. Who can hate the immensity of the couple’s mutual affection that these ideas imply? At the height of mutual affection, we sing in our fondest love songs, “I will always love you!”, “I loved you for a thousand years, I’ll love you for a thousand more”, “If it’s ten thousand hours or the rest of my life, I’m gonna love you!”. At the height of such affection, “till death do us part” might not even do justice to the “forever-ness” we want our marriage romance to last.
But the plain reality of the vow “till death do us part” escapes us: at death, the married couple does part. Marriage is not forever. Does this idea make you gag? Does this make you feel uneasy? If so, maybe you are just like us who once thought that our souls would entangle in marital union for eternity. We would like to encourage you to perhaps consider whether you have made marriage about your personal desires rather than what God had designed it to be.
Mutual affection is a good product of any strong relationship, and it is desired in marriage; but it is NOT the goal of marriage. The goal of marriage is to serve the purpose of God which culminates in an end-time existence of no marriage. Here is what we mean:
In God’s grand purpose of spreading His glorious rule over all things in the future new creation, He has willed to gather and unite His people under His beloved son, King Jesus, to form that kingdom of people who worship and glorify Him.
If anything, marriage in this life ultimately serves to display this end-time reality of Jesus’ union with His church — in other words, the ultimate marriage.”
When this end time is inaugurated, marriage–as we know it in this life–dissolves to make way for the ultimate marriage between King Jesus and His people. When we think of marriage as we know it as being “forever”, we obscure ourselves from the reality that what is forever is “God and his people”, not “my partner and I”. In light of all these, the beauty of marriage pales in comparison with the ultimate reality of the real deal, the real marriage — Christ and His church.
Being in a healthy church with robust Christ-centric teaching wakes us up from our slumber and lifts our ignorance towards God’s intended meaning of marriage. If it were not for CERC, this beautiful God-glorifying and Christ-centred church, we would have walked into a self-serving, inward-looking marriage instead of a marriage that is committed to serve Jesus and His church till He returns.
We hope you now get why we cringe at the idea of “high school sweethearts”. In the same way, we think you should cringe at that label as well because marriage is to serve Jesus.
We will make sure that we will keep working at it until every atom and molecule in us conforms to the reality of what God intends life, man and marriage to be. Here is an artwork we worked on together to testify and to remind ourselves for the years to come what marriage really is about. Hope you like it!