Married Life and Love that Overflows

The Marriage Feast at Cana by Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel

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Though June is traditionally the month for marriage, it seems as though I am officiating and speaking to people more about marriage in the month of May. As with teaching a class or preaching a sermon, I always find that when I’m offering counsel to a couple, I end up learning more than I could ever possibly impart or extend.
It so happens that I am talking and praying with couples about marriage at the same time that politicians are also talking a lot about marriage. On May 8, North Carolina will vote on a proposed amendment defining marriage in the state constitution as between one man and one woman, and would ban any other type of “domestic legal union” such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Since same-sex marriage is already illegal in the state of North Carolina, this simply underscores and makes it constitutional. In Maryland, politicians who preach and preachers who politicize also are also pushing for an understanding of marriage that is restrictive and narrow. To me, not only does it seem bizarre (Is this really the most important issue for elected officials?), but it also just seems mean-spirited. I wonder about the married lives of the people who would craft and support such laws: is there any love in their marriage? Does marriage for some require so much energy, effort, and work that there is no more love left over? If so, this would be unfortunate and it would also be un-Biblical.
Marriage is about “love left over.” It is never just about two people. Jesus performs his first miracle at the wedding at Cana, but he does so not to point to marriage in any particular way. He performs a miracle of abundance to illustrate the overflowing, uncontrollable, and unpredictable love of God. The miracle at Cana is consistent with the parables Jesus tells about the kingdom of God—that wherever God’s love is let loose, we had better look out, because anything is liable to happen. Mustard seeds grow into giant trees. Mountains are moved. Bread is made to feed multitudes. And one person falls in love with another, hoping to share that love with others.
When it comes to dim-witted and mean-spirited politicians, I am trying to follow the words of Jesus and pray for my enemies. When it comes to marriage, I will continue to encourage, bless, and try to live the kind of marriage that creates overflowing love, love that imitates and reflects the ever-reaching love of God.

About John F. Beddingfield

Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City on East 88th Street between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.
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