Jul 15, 2016

On Cohabitation

You can be physically naked, but emotionally you hold back, fearful of losing someone whose only real tie to you is mutual affection.
Drew Griffin

The following is in response to the article, “The Majority of Americans Recommend Cohabitation.

From the outside, it seems straightforward: marriage is motivated by faith—in God, in the other person, in the tradition of community—while cohabitation is motivated or justified by more isolated practicality and uncertainty, even fear—a lack of willingness, even courage, to risk commitment without first trying to determine or control its outcome.

Based on various personal conversations, however, this is such fragile, humbling subject because—regardless of what authors like Drew Griffin may attest (and there are many like him in the Church)—the reality is that marriages collapse under the weight of insecurity about as much as cohabited relationships. That intimacy is not a guaranteed end for either path. That it is purely a gift.

Yet can that gift be acquired through our human effort or can it only be received from a source beyond us?

Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, I am not sure that intimacy can be acquired purely through human will. At least it does not seem to be so from what I have observed. That does not mean, however, that the two people do not share a very tangible responsibility to foster the space in their minds, hearts and lifestyles to receive that gift; and, after receiving it, to work daringly to cultivate and grow it for the rest of their lives.

No path toward intimacy is easy.

So where does the frail nature of this conversation leave one who still wants to believe in the power of marriage?

It is a power that I believe was orchestrated and affirmed in the beginning of time as “very good” by God, Yahweh, the “I am.” Despite my questions and uncertainty, Yahweh asks that I trust His promise to me—His Word. The Bible is foundationally the story of the covenant between Yahweh and Mankind, between Yahweh and you, me, each individual in the world. To trust in Him, in His love—the intimacy promised by committing to a relationship with Jesus Christ by the mysterious and active affection of the Holy Spirit—is to ground myself on faith. That faith is rooted in what He proclaimed as good. It is gratitude demonstrated through obedience to His guidance: that marriage is the path to the deepest and most stirring kind of intimacy.

That is probably not enough to convince the skeptics, but for me it is enough to nurture an inspiration that is both meaningful and purposeful. More so, I feel it deepening my capacity for love while also filling it with an overwhelming sense of passion.

May you discover that wellspring of love within your own heart, and may its goodness inspire your passion to new breadths of holistic expression. Soli deo gloria.

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