The Marriage Cage
Marriage is easy when you’re feeling the love. But when you aren’t, marriage feels like a cage: “I’m trapped in here with this woman I don’t love and who doesn’t love me. I can’t get out and neither can she. This marriage is holding both of us back from being happy!”
But think about this. What if the cage is there to protect you?
If you were alone and it was dark and you were deep in the jungles of Africa and there were lions, tigers, leopards, jackals—all kinds of hungry animals looking for fresh meat—you’d give anything for a cage. You’d gladly lock yourself inside.
Maybe that’s why God created the institution of marriage. Maybe it’s there to protect us from the dangers and the temptations we’re drawn to . . . things that might kill us if we were set free.
An institution? What does that mean? Why should we value or protect institutions?
Because institutions are ways to sustain important activities over time.
Let’s say there’s a good-hearted doctor who takes care of everyone in his community. When people are sick, he goes to their homes and treats them. When they’re really sick, he brings them to his house and looks after them until they get better or die.
What happens when the doctor dies? Or when his house burns down? The whole community is out of luck.
So we created an institution to sustain the healthcare we all need. The good-hearted doctor is still at the heart of it, but now he’s connected to a hospital—an institution—a system that will carry on when he doesn’t feel like being good-hearted, or when he’s sick himself, or when he’s (ultimately) not around.
Marriage is sort of like that. It’s a system that carries two people through when they don’t feel love for each other. Consider this one…
Love initiates marriage. But marriage sustains love.
Americans fight for institutions that give us what we want. We’ll tax ourselves to build hospitals, we’ll bail out the banks and government… well, it’s always done a pretty good job of protecting and sustaining itself. But marriage is an institution that’s in trouble because it gives us what we need, but sometimes it’s not what we want. And just like the motto of “think global, but act local,” our first priority is to honor, respect and protect our own marriages. We’re in a culture where parents do everything to give their kids an advantage, but forget the most valuable thing we can bestow upon our children is a happy, healthy marriage between Mom and Dad.
So next time you’re tempted to ‘chunk it all’ or blow up or do something mean to hurt her back, remember God created marriage and He put you in yours for your benefit. Probably for your protection. And the next time someone talks to you about getting a divorce, remember the institution of marriage will only be sustained if people start to sacrifice a little selfishness for the good of their families, society and the next generation. To think longer term, to stay committed even when they don’t feel like it, and to trust God for the love and protection He provides through marriage.
Question: Are you actively working to protect your marriage?