By: Allie Joy Kapus
Faithfulness and Suicide
I read a short story two years ago that left a huge imprint on me. It’s called “To Room Nineteen” by Doris Lessing. The story focuses on Susan, a woman who was cheated on after a decade of faithful marriage. But when her husband tells her about the affair, she quickly brushes it off. As the narrator explains, “The whole thing was not important. After all, years ago they had joked: Of course I’m not going to be faithful to you, no one can be faithful to one other person for a whole lifetime” (Lessing 866). This cheating sparks a downward spiral. By the end of the story, the once happily married Susan is miserable, cuts herself off from others, and commits suicide. Though this story is fictional, it mirrors our current cultural reality. Do we realize that this depravity is our standard?
Last week we defined postmodern sexuality as a strange mashup of two words that, given their original definitions, should have absolutely nothing to do with one another. Our society over the past half-century has normalized this perspective. Now, practices of self-seeking sex, such as pornography, masturbation, and hooking up are seen as a right of passage rather than something that makes us shudder.
Yet these things still fill us with shame. We know that abusing sex for our own pleasure only leaves us emptier than before the temporary thrill of a sexual high. Postmodernity has attacked sexuality in a very real way; the very foundation of society has come under fire. So, what is this foundation?
Formed to Be a Family
In Genesis 2, God formed marriage as the unit on which all other social functions are based. As the husband and wife unite for life under the covenant of marriage, they leave the families that raised them and come together with their spouse to form their own new family.
God designed society to be structured in this way. Marriages form families, families form communities, and communities form societies. We come together and pour into one another, but we always go back to the home as a place of safety, security, love, commonality, and unity. This is the case within the Church too. The family is vital to the plan of God. As families pour into, feel secure with, and are recharged by one another, they work together to serve the Kingdom of God.
The Lord is relational, and He calls us His family! We are deeply tied to God and to one another in an intimate and spiritual way. Paul writes in Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
The family is close to God’s heart. He created us in His image, and since He is three in one, He created us to be in relationship with Him and with one another. This is the design that God set in place when He created the world. But that design has come under serious attack.
Breaking Our Bedrock
Marriage is a covenant and should form the bedrock of society. But postmodern sexuality champions the deinstitutionalization of marriage.
We’ve been wrestling with a lot of big concepts and terms, and now we need to examine another one.
What exactly is an institution? Merriam-Webster defines an institution as “a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture” and cites the example of “the institution of marriage.” An institution is something on which civilization is built. Without the existence of this bedrock, everything on top of it begins to crumble. So, deinstitutionalization means that the significance of a specific institution is ignored, deconstructed, and eventually lost.
Evidence of Depravity
We’re already seeing this cycle play out in our country. As people value God’s definition of marriage less and less, it begins to hold a diminished place in our society. And as marriage holds a reduced place in society, casual sexual and relational practices spring up. These practices then cheapen the perceived value of marriage. This cycle is vicious, ongoing, and running rampant in 21st century America.
Here are a few examples. Over the past five to six decades, pre-marital sex and extra-marital affairs, once taboo matters, have become so common that many people do not expect to enter into marriage as virgins and don’t necessarily believe that both partners will be faithful throughout the entirety of the marriage. In a similar vein, the practice of cohabitation is now almost considered a prerequisite for marriage. When I tell people that I’m engaged, I’ve been asked on more than one occasion if my fiancé and I already live together. (We don’t.)
The institution of marriage has lost its value in society as it has been replaced by a mentality that prioritizes casual sex and hooking up.
The prevalence of divorce in Western society has also attacked the integrity of the marriage covenant. The legalization of no-fault divorce in 1970 led many to view the marriage bond as something that can be easily broken. This is a far cry from the hope and beauty of God’s design. In Matthew 19 and Mark 10, Jesus teaches that divorce is not permitted in God’s eyes (except in the case of immortality, see Matthew 19:9). Marriage was created to last a lifetime. With the easy breakup of couples that has come up during the past few decades, the permanence of marriage has lost its place in the public eye.
Jesus rejected, our acceptance
Marriage should ultimately honor God and draw people to Him; as husband and wife demonstrate their love and commitment to one another, this reflects Christ and His eternal union with the Church. Our world and the enemy are constantly at work, attempting to taint this incredible heavenly institution, the family. As marriage falls out of view as a foundational institution within society, this picture of Christ, though still powerful, is often overlooked. Like Susan in the story above, when we allow the world to define the way we view marriage, we lie to ourselves and stimulate ourselves until we end up terrified and alone. But Jesus left Heaven and took on a life of sacrifice, isolation, betrayal, and suffering so that we could once again know Him intimately and partake in meaningful relationships with one another. Jesus knows what our brokenness feels like. He lived in the midst of it!
For us to reflect the vast love of God that Jesus offers us is an honor and a great privilege. May we, whether single or married, be the people that remind the world of the wonder of the marriage covenant.
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Allie Joy Kapus is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. Allie completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction and has also been published in two of Liberty University’s other onl