arranged marriage pt 2

Talking with Fr. Gregory, he said that if you want to know what to ask yourself if you want to be a monk, wonder to yourself if you love God and your neighbour enough to die.
when he looked at me as he said the word 'die' I knew he meant it in every possible sense.
but this must also apply to marriage, which leads me to believe that all of my past thoughts about dating and courting and whatever you want to call it have to be judged as incorrect. Not to say that I regret the relationships that I had, though I do regret moments here and there, nor to say anything bad about any of the women I have dated in the past, they are all wonderful in many ways.

The problem was me and my approach. but I couldn't really know this, and this is what is leading me to think that arranged marriage or some derivative is the way to go.

If I go through life, dating girls with the intent to discover whether or not we should or could get married, I am still using my own desire and choice as a basis for my continuation in said relationship.

that said, if we apply the same principle, generally, that Fr. Gregory was talking about with monasticism to marriage, it should somehow become something other than our choice, because we are so often incapable of making choices that direct us towards holiness. Or, perhaps we should grow up enough to know what kind of choices push us towards holiness. (perhaps you can see my thought process as it plays out here, I am discovering as I write)

what I think I am trying to say is that it doesn't matter whether you become a monk or get married, as long as it is about dying for holiness. This often involves doing things you wouldn't normally choose. Fr. Gregory wishes to be a hermit, but we go and visit often, and he welcomes us with love and joy.

perhaps I just need more time to finish baking in the holiness oven so that I can see past my own desires?

I now see monasticism and marriage in the same light, they are almost the same thing to me, just different versions, or different sides of the same coin. I mean, they look different, but both lead to eternal life through the death of our selfish will. though marriage seems to have a little more possible immediate reward, especially for someone who likes being around women and lots of people in general...but that is just it. life is not about what we like or want, its about God and what is good for us and for the Kingdom, which slowly is conformed to our will, rather backwards, our will is conformed that way so we want what is Holy?



elizabeth said...

did you ask the Fr. there about what he thinks about arranged marriage or the topic in general?

rowena said...

Wow... quite the post, Dave! It all makes sense. I definitely agree with the part about dating for pleasure vs. dating as and 'interview'. This is really what it's all about. I've been blunt with a few people and told them right out that I'm husband hunting. It's a shocker for most people to hear someone in our modern age talk like this, but how else do we veer around the idea of dating for pleasure? Typically, in our time, we date to see if we can have fun together when we should be dating to see if we could parent together.

pasivirta said...

yeah, honestly, that kind of honesty is refreshing, despite it being a surprising thing to hear to be sure.

I can't remember what Fr.Lawrence said about it, or if I asked him...

Magdalen said...

On Sunday the catechumens talked about monasticism, and Fr Lawrence said that if you could ever possibly see yourself being married, then you shouldn't be a monk.*grin* I think his opinion on arranged marraige changes depending on whether or not he's talking about me. ;)
I only just found out today that you're going to be Anselm's godfather. Nifty!
And Rowena, don't stop being blunt. There's few enough of us out there to begin with. We frighteningly honest chicks gotta stick together.

cathedral dweller said...

Dave - that was great. Marriage and monasticism. I've more than one or two heated discussions about it. Probably shouldn't even bother thinking about them ... "vain thoughts and evil imaginations" i think.

Anyhow, my words tend to contain too much hot air so I'll repeat an oft repeated little saying from Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus)- "Let them be one in the Lord and each other's adornment." This is what he has to say about those who are married and monastics.

I hear you about the not dating for pleasure or allowing our desire to guide or search for either a nuptial partner or the monastic life. When I thought I was getting interested in Cheryl, I really didn't want to screw up a beautiful frienship so I asked God again and again to give me wisdom and preserve our friendship. By God's incredible mercy, he didn't really allow me to feel interested in her until I had a dream. In that dream, we were having a party at the Instanthome - which really occurred early that year - and I was handcuffed to another Maggie Robertson - which also actually happened at the real party - but I really wanted to talk with Cheryl. Suddenly, in my dream, Cheryl came to sit beside me even though my left hand was handcuffed to Maggie and suddenly my hand was free and I was holding Cheryl's hand hand. I woke up and finally realized that I did enjoy her company in a way that was "more" than with others. Being a good charismatic at the time, I took it was an indication that "God says yes."

And here I am. Happy as a clam. And married.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! The realization that Marriage and Monasticism are the same is one that most don't understand nor would ever agree with. I think it takes those who truely understand the spiritual life to see that Fr. Gregory is quite correct. However, saying that, I entirely disagree with arranged marriages (in the literal sense, so I'm not sure if that's what you are referring to). I believe that engaging in such an arrangement takes away our will. God does not seek to take away what He gave to man as a gift! But that man align his will with God's. I think an arranged marriage is the easy way out, to be honest. I don't think there is anything wrong with choosing who we want to marry. Such choices are an exercise in prudence.

Though it may be the superficial things that attract two (Orthodox) people to one another, it is their mutual faith and love for Christ and the Church that will sustain a marriage, and through God's Grace, will be sanctified.

I have many more thoughts on this subject, but I feel like I'm preaching so I'll just stop now. Forgive my butting in.

pasivirta said...

who was that masked commenter...is that even a word?

Anonymous said...

Who I am doesn't really matter. Just consider me a peruser (is THAT a word?) of blogs.

Ed Doerksen said...

Dave, it's always good to read your posts and the comments that you spark. Keep thinking and hope to see you later this summer after you defend your paper hopefully.

churchmouse said...

I have a thought on this.

I like what you say about Marriage and Monasticism being the same. Both being vehicles of death to self.

However, when we talk about "as long as it is about dying for holiness" it is easy to continue to think in a Western utilitarian manner which understands everything in terms of means and ends, and the means invariable become devalued in comparison to ends which are often abstract states and not people.

Marriage should never be just a means to becoming Holy. Marriage is a sacrament because it is one of the incarnations of God's love. It is an icon of the Desire God has for us and the commitment with which he pursues us, sacrifices for us, gives to us, is faithful, and delights in us with His tender loving care.

This is why we need to talk about desire and Desire.

It is not (in my humble opinion) about seeing past our own desires. The whole point of holiness is not (as some Buddhists believe) the cessation of desire. It is, as you say at the end of your post, that our desire itself becomes Holy, becomes conformed to the perfect will of God. This does not mean a cessation of our will. We continue to have a completely free will, but we freely see and choose what is best.

I firmly believe that one of the most BEAUTIFUL aspects of marriage is that you have Chosen this person and they have Chosen you to walk through life together, to edify eachother and to be faithful to them.

In the process of my courtship with Matthew (Cathedral Dweller) I had mixed desires. Some were for him in good ways, but they were compromised by my sin, my fear, and my vision that is clouded by this world. I knew that part of my desire was different (more true, more pure) than any other guy I had been interested in. So I prayed a lot and asked God to purify my desire. My vision of him changed, I saw more and more who he is, and I saw more and more of Christ in him. In our marriage I continue to have to do battle within myself against false or impure desires, and to give way to and confirm the True Desire which my soul has to be in perfect harmony with him in Christ.

When I die to my selfish will in my Marriage to Matthew (and I still don't take every opportunity), I do NOT DIE FOR THE SAKE OF MY OWN HOLINESS FIRST. That would be tantamount to dying for my own sake. I die for MATTHEW's sake. I die for the sake of my relationship with him. I die for the sake of Christ and what he gave to make this redemption of human love possible that I am experiencing more and more glimpses of. I die for a PERSON. I die for Christ in him.

I think this can be applied to Monasticism as well. I would venture to speculate that Monastics who enter monasticism and work on dying for the sake of achieving holiness first don't get as far as monastics who work on dying for the sake of union with the Lover of their souls.

heather said...

Wow - so many great comments and so many great thoughts of your own, Dave.

I agree that arranged marriage is, in the literal sense, a cop-out. And I also thought you were getting to the best part of your post right there at the end when you started writing about His will becoming ours or vice versa. I think that's really at the heart of the matter right there. I, too, am not a proponent of casual dating, but also, I am not in favor of marriage over celebacy - Paul's writings about the virtue and blessing of celibacy comes to mind. Don't get me wrong, my desire is still for marriage, someday, but my prayer is that if marriage is not His will for me that my desire for it would shift to align with God's will for my life. Good thoughts all, Dave! :)

On a wholly seperate topic - since you brought up monasticism - what are your thoughts on solitude? I know not all monks remain totally serperate from society but the history of monasticism is heavily steeped in solitude and your comment about Fr. Gregory and his desire to be a hermit got me thinking about the Biblical implications of hermitage.

I have a few thoughts of my own on the matter but I'm curious to hear yours.

ps. do you ever hear from Dan S.?

churchmouse said...

I also have a comment for Rowena. I commend your single-mindedness and your candour with the guys you date. Good for you! There are many sad reasons why a guy would be offended by a woman who is dating to find a mate.

However, there is also one good reason possible. Depending on the woman's motives, and how she words it, it can sound an awful lot like the guy is a means to the end of getting married. I'm sure we've all seen examples of women who have married guys that weren't a great match for them because they wanted so much to be married.

Men are sometimes aware that women want Marriage for its own sake. They may not be able to put it into words, but they can feel it. And depending on how you say what you say, it may confirm their fear that women don't love men for their own sake but use them to get what they want. (Incidentally women have the same fear about men, only what men want is different).

Nobody wants to be a means to an end.

Something to think about, at any rate.

Anonymous said...

churchmouse, beautifully said.

rowena said...

Being the person I am (one who admits to 'husband hunting') I am an extremely honest person. Therefore, if I do not have pure intentions towards the man I want to marry, both he and I will know. I am not a wily female :)

heather said...

Just a thought, but I have met guys who I have been concerned will do the same, Churchmouse. They wanted so badly to just be married - for obvious reasons - and because the church regards marriage and married people in such high esteem - even if it's inadvertant. I just thought it was interesting that in your comment women seem to be the only ones who are out manhunting for a mate - I've met men who do the same and when they happen to find those women who don't really love them but just want to be married so badly as you have exampled, it's sometimes a trainwreck.

biss said...

And that is why we picked Cheryl & Matthew as our marriage sponsors!

(And yup, dave hears from Dan S. very regularly. I know this because I'm observant. Yup.)

Magdalen said...

Wow, you sure know how to spark discussion Dave. Lots to think about, for sure.
I'm conflicted about arranged marraige. On the one hand, it seems to work for other cultures, and in times past. The concept of dating is a relatively new one, and some of the results have been pretty horrific. There's also something quite appealing about skipping the dating scene.
On the other hand though, I react against it for those very reasons. Just because it worked in times past and other cultures doesn't mean it would work here and now in NA. And as Anonymous said, it seems like a bit of a copout. Perhaps we're attracted to the idea simply out of frustration with the dating scene and a reluctance to take the time and go through the work of finding someone. Being alone can be hard and painful and unless one is called to the monastic life, the instinct to find a mate can be overpowering. So, tired of dealing with the situation, the idea of having someone else do the work of finding us a mate can be very appealing.
I'm just thinking outloud here though. Or typing out loud. Or thinking in type. Something.
Have fun in Utah!

Anonymous said...

I think you're romanticizing arranged marriage.

elizabeth said...

wow. what a conversation. i concur that women can at times sense when a guy just wants to get married and does not really seem intrested in which women it would be. i remember senseing this in a guy years ago; not cool.

it is such a hard thing; seeking to love others.

i wonder if the whole dating/desire for marriage 'thing' 1. ever ends! [for single people that is] 2. if it is true, as so many married people in my life seem to say, that i/single people, may need to learn to enjoy being single, learn contentment ... or they will never be happy married.

i remember hearing the interview last semester online w. mother Gabriella and, if i remember correctly, she said that if one is to become a monastic, they must first be content where they are;

perhaps all we really need to pursue is wholeness...

RW said...

I would just like to interject .... if anyone would like to read some good thoughts on marriage check out Peter Leithart's book "Minatures and Morals - The Christian Novels of Jane Austen"

Leithart chooses chapter 2 to focus on Morals and Manners,Marriage and Money and uses the novel Pride and Prejudice to illustrate certain ideas of marriage and courtship. I cannot put this book down.

On the subject of making romantic arranged marriages... the coming together of two people is just the beginning. Either way the real work of the relationship takes place during the marriage.

We need to be clear what we mean by arranged? Do we mean the parents choose and set it up with no input from their children? Which I don't think will fly anytime soon with anyone I know. Or do we mean, individuals are gently suggested.

I am enjoying the discussion.

Ed Doerksen said...

Wow Dave, lots of thoughts here.

Arranged marriages (historically) were performed as a means of joining property, sealing an agreement between nations, securiing a better level within society, and the list can go on.

Love was not apart of the arranged marrages as women were concidered nothing more than property to be disposed of in such a way that one or both persons making a "deal" sealed it with the marriage of the daughter. There is nothing romantica about arranged marriages.

David, for example, married Saul's daughter to secure his claim to the throne and to be close to his friend Johnathan. Oh yes, after reading about David in the scriptures, he's not that perfect little boy that many of us were led to believe.

Some of the comments have pointed to a real problem in many relationships. The church places such a high demand for "couple orientation" that many people believe that they out of the will of God if they are single.

In fact I remember an arguement I had with one of my professors at Trinity about this. He concluded that all single people can only have half of God's blessings because they were single. Having half a blessing was therefore being out of the will of God.

Love should be the expression of committment that is seen in marriage. Marriage should not be viewed as a licence for sex as many christian guys have viewed marriage.

In Biblical days, marriage was seen as concecrated procreation. Again women were deemed nothing more than property and baby factories for increased population.

Times have changed, and love, real love has found its' way into the relationship. As men and women began to choose their partners, love entered into the picture and marriage became an outward expression of that love and willingness to be joined together. Children became an expression of the marriage and Grandparents were able to spoil the children.

It is not just the church that demands everyone be coupled. Society has also placed the same demands on people, which includes the same problems that the church has seen develop.

It always amazed me while at Trinity Western, how programs were developed and speakers choosen that made being single appear evil in some way.

Well those are some of my thoughts anyways. I've likely angered a few, I usually do. Sorry about that. But then I'm one of the evil guys who remains single by choice, and I have paid for that choice in the church over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Is arranged marriage not the same as "shopping for mates"? Is it not just another form of "pursuing your own desires", YOUR demands of what a relationship should be. Marriage is serious and requires love, attention, discipline and work. If someone is that frustrated about trying to find a "mate", "husband" "wife", then perhaps the single life is the most selfless to pursue. Dating is only an interview if that is what you make it, a test to see if this person is what you want. If you are at this stage, I highly recommend staying away from marriage, arranged or any other kind.

Anonymous said...

i think maybe anonymous needs to identify themselves... just a suggestion. strong opinions are tempered by accountability to one another.