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Tie That Binds
Photo: Col Adamson
Several years ago, we took an overnight flight from Chicago to Hong Kong. Shortly after we took to the air, the flight attendants put the movie The Story of Us on the screen. The story line was about Ben and Katie and their marriage.
Ben opens the story reminiscing about how he’d always wanted to marry Katie and be like those couples who remained married for 50 or 60 years—the ones who were so close and loving that when one died, the other died too, of a broken heart.

Katie tells of reading a book about Harold, a boy who colors outside the lines and draws the world as he wants it to be. Well, Ben has turned out to be “her Harold.” While Ben’s easy-going, spontaneous way is probably what drew her to him in the first place, she’s grown weary of always having to be the responsible one in the marriage. She’s tired of always having to make sure the lunches are packed, the kids get to their dentist appointments, and on and on, while her husband lives in a fun fantasy world, as though none of this matters. After a while, all their communication revolves around their differences.

Her: “You never listen.”
Him: “You can’t let go of anything.”
Her: “So I haven’t done anything right for fifteen years?”
Him: “Why does everything have to be programmed? Can’t you ever do anything spontaneously? What happened to the fun girl I married?”
Her: “She died, and you killed her!”

Eventually, their smiles and even their touches are just a front they keep up for the children.

Katie and Ben separate while their kids are at summer camp. Loneliness tempts them to try to reconcile; however, it doesn’t work, so they make the decision to divorce. But how will they tell the kids? Over a nice meal might be good. But where—at a favorite restaurant or at home? They conclude that it’ll be best to make the announcement at home. It’ll be easier than in public. So they wait nervously for the bus bringing their kids back from camp.

Marriage and God

Marriage began in Eden as an experience of unity between husband and wife so close that God Himself called it “one flesh.” The ideal marriage includes openness and vulnerability born of complete trust—a physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual union. Adam and Eve were naked in each other’s presence, yet they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25).

The Old Testament prophets used marriage to describe God’s love. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures we find affirmations of love and romance, and marriage becomes a metaphor for the relationship God wants to have with us.

Jesus reaffirmed God’s original intent for husband and wives: “‘Haven’t you read,’” He asked the Pharisees, “‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”?’”(Matthew 19: 4, 5).NIV

In God’s design, intimacy with one’s marriage partner depends on intimacy with God.

So what happened to Ben and Katie? After collecting the children and loading their camp gear into the car, Ben casts a knowing glance at Katie and says with resolution in his voice, “Let’s go home.”

However, Katie doesn’t follow Ben to the car. In a deeply moving soliloquy, she brings The Story of Us to a climax. “I don’t think we should go home,” she says, suggesting they go instead to the family’s favorite restaurant. She acknowledges her part in the breakdown of their relationship and promises to try to do better. She wants to go to the restaurant, she says with conviction, “because I love you.”

In the end, both Katie and Ben face themselves honestly and recognize how their differing temperaments, personalities, and ways of doing things made their marriage something wonderful, something neither of them could have know alone.

It was God’s intent for the institution of marriage to bind together a man, a woman, and their Creator in a covenant never to be broken.

And now and then, even Hollywood can understand that and share it!

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By Ron and Karen Flowers. Portions reprinted with persmission from Signs of the Times, October 2006. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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