Letter Lessons: A God Guided Marriage
By: Christopher Wiles
Instead of light writing from my experience in daily life (Living Lessons), I want to share with you thoughts that inspire me from a collection of letters from another's extraordinary life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German protestant minister who wrote from prison before his 1945 execution at the hands of Hitler's Nazis. On May 15th, 1943, approximately 6 weeks after his arrest and missing the wedding ceremony of close friends due to being held in prison, Dietrich wrote these thoughts on marriage to his friends.
"Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God's holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love, you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of generations. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal. It is marriage and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. Your love comes from you, but your marriage is from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."
In our day the view marriage has often been sadly reduced to an extravagant party and a temporary civil union. I find Dietrich Bonhoeffer's letter writings from prison to be refreshing and empowering. It bolsters my resolve to care for the marriage God has given me with my wife. It reminds me of my marriage's purpose as a practical use in humanity but also as an example of God's designs for others. Bonhoeffer's writings echo the strong sentiments of scripture about marriage such as these writings from other letters:
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband." - Ephesians 5:31-33
You can find more of Bonhoeffer's writings in the book titled "Letters & Papers From Prison" on Amazon.com