Why there can’t be a trial marriage

Pr. Christopher Esget quotes from Walter Trobisch’s book I Married You a succinct and insightful rebuttal of the idea that cohabitation (or any other such arrangement) can work as a trial marriage.

This reminds me of my distant past in military service: being struck by the fact that peacetime military training can teach you all sorts of skills, attitudes and facts. But it can never truly prepare you for warfare, because—barring accidents—your life is not at risk. The reality of death can only be experienced when it’s there, on the battlefield.

Likewise, the permanence of marriage is an essential part of what it is to be married. You can learn about the toothpaste-squeezing habits and such like by cohabiting. But you cannot learn about what it means to love and cherish for worse or for poorer, till death do you part.

Anyway, here’s Trobisch:

[It] is one of the greatest temptations of our time: to consider the legal act of the wedding as a mere formality, as an unimportant piece of paper which one can get someday, or maybe not at all. One pretends that the two angles of love and sex represent the whole of marriage. “Some people, in all seriousness, propose trial marriages. They suggest that a couple live together for awhile in order to see whether they fit together. If then they come to the conclusion that they do not, they can separate without risking a divorce. But the whole proposition rests upon the illusion that the two angles of sex and love represent the whole. Since they do not, marriage cannot be tested in that way.

The Finger of God

Sermon preached at Our Saviour Lutheran Church and Oxford Lutheran Mission 2012 on 26 August 2012, Trinity 12.
Text: Mark 7:31–37

A recording from Our Saviour is available here.

Image courtesy of Brooklyn Museum under Creative Commons Licence 3.0

As is well known, the Gospel according to St. Mark is the shortest of the four gospels by quite a margin. Of all the evangelists, Mark is the most economical with words. Where Matthew has the Sermon on the Mount and other long discourses of Jesus, where Luke records long parables and John gives us nearly chapter-long sermons by Jesus, Mark hardly ever quotes anything longer than short snippets and summaries of Jesus’ teaching. He leaves out many of the events and details that we find in the other Gospels, as if in a great hurry to get to the Passion Narrative, the description of Jesus’ death. So breathless is Mark’s account, that one of the most common words in his Gospel is the Greek word e)uqu’s: immediately. Mark uses it 41 times, whereas in the rest of the New Testament it only appears ten times. Jesus was baptised and immediately he was taken to the wilderness by the Spirit. Immediately, Jesus went into the synagogue. Immediately, immediately, immediately. Hurry along.

One effect of this breathlessness is that when Mark does slow down, we need to sit up and pay attention. When he gives us more than the bare bones, when he pauses to dwell on some detail, we need to slow down with him and follow his gaze to that detail. If it wasn’t important, Mark if anyone would pass over it. In Mark’s account of Jesus, it’s not the devil that’s in the detail but the Gospel!

We are before one such moment in this morning’s Gospel selection. Most of this passage is not unlike other healings by Jesus. Mark records several of them in the short space of his Gospel. But unlike at other times, here he draws us in to observe in detail how Jesus heals, what the Lord actually does: Continue reading The Finger of God