You can’t give your wife what you don’t own

When a man and a woman get married, they promise themselves to each other. The assumption is that they are each in a position to actually give the item that they are promising.

I wonder how often that is completely true.

Traditionally, there is a point in a wedding ceremony where the minister asks if there is any other relationship that prevents either person from being legally and morally capable of marrying the other. It is mostly just a formality–though it reminds us that marriage had to be carved out of social chaos.

But while the average couple in a wedding is legally free to marry the other, do they have any real freedom to truly offer themselves to the other?

To a certain extent, of course, you can’t learn how to give yourself in marriage until you get married. You are promising to learn how you need to change to become the perfect spouse (not perfect in a generic way but perfect to the particular person you are marrying) and then to do so. That can’t be all figured out before marriage. You have to grow and adapt.

But such growth and change require freedom. And by freedom I mean slavery.

Slavery to oneself.

Slavery to oneself as an integrated decision maker rather than slavery to the bits of you, whether only immature or downright sinful, that you can’t understand.

If you can’t master yourself you have no capacity to offer yourself to another. So two people take vows who have a hundred invisible spouses already chained to their hands, feet, eyes, and mouths. They are slaves to ambitions, greeds, vices, and assorted addictions.

Marriage has to force real change on a person in order to work. The person has to realize that the vow to belong to another entails a vow to capture and dominate oneself so that one has a person to offer to another.


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