One of the things that is interesting to me that I’ve been mulling over more recently (again) is the fact that most things in the Scriptures are the bare minimum.
For marriage, God commands the husband to be the head and love his wife while He commands the wife to submit and respect and be affectionate with her husband. He commands both of them to have sex with each other. If they separate, they must stay single or reconcile.
One of the things that I think exemplifies “perfection” in marriage is similar in nature to God’s provision:
Matthew 6:25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God already knows our needs and will provide for them (our needs and not our wants). We just need to have faith and follow Him.
The anomalous post a few weeks ago showed that it’s not normal for any culture to follow God. Nova made some good points that our culture prior mimicked that to some extent, but ultimately diverted fast and hard once norms fell apart.
I generally agree, and this is where I think a great deal of the nostalgia for the US prior to, say, 1965, or August 1920 or what have you is misplaced.
What we had prior to the social revolution that began in the 1960s was a society that was “Christian” on its surface, but really only on its surface. There was a convergence of its own between the kind of values that fostered middle class life and Christian values, construed broadly, when relating to sexuality and marital and family life. That is, there was a broad overlap between the two, such that following Christian teaching about sex, marriage and family life not only didn’t interfere with the middle class life script — it actually “rhymed” with it, such that it did not really impede the middle class life script. So people followed along, and it was easy enough for them to seem Christian due to their following those customs, even if they didn’t have a deep faith, and were following them because they were also the social values and customs of the rising middle class, and everyone, at the time, who was “getting ahead” was following them as well and leading successful lives. So there was a meshing there that took place that blurred exactly how Christian and faithful people were.
My own take is that they were not, in fact, very faithful, because the same people, once conditions changed quickly, pretty much abandoned, en masse, the Christian teachings in these areas for the new middle class life script, with only a small minority sticking to the “old rules”. We know what led to the middle class script being changed — everything from cheap and legal birth control and abortion, to an economy that moved from industry to service (and then now to “knowledge”), to feminism as a social and political ideology whose strength itself was fed by these technological and economic changes. In the space of a generation, middle class parents shifted dramatically when it came to their daughters … MRS degree was out, career path for its own sake was in. That script, which became solidified in the culture in the 1980s and 90s, does not call for marriage until after the education/early career phase has been secured … an age which started in the mid 20s area and which has advanced higher every year. This, of course, implies that almost all of these will be fornicating along the way … and all the more as the average age of first marriage increases. There was, and likely always will be, a small group that refuses to do so – the faithful group — but it’s tiny even in Christian communities. It’s just taken as a given by middle class and upper middle Christians that their children are likely going to be fornicating, and this is tolerated because it is felt to be a necessary risk in order to facilitate the important middle class life script. It also leads to much more egalitarian marriages, because the changes in the economy meant that in many areas living without two incomes, unless one of them was sky high, was increasingly difficult, and involved the sacrifice of not living a middle class life — which was an unwanted sacrifice because, again, the whole point of the middle class life script is to live a middle class life to begin with! Of course egalitarian marriages aren’t what the Church had taught since time immemorial, either, but that, too, had to bend before the more important middle class life script, such that men and women were formed to fall into both fornication and later in life more egalitarian marriages due to the life script, and everyone just adapted.
I think one of the interesting things is that there was some “beauty” in how Western Civilization followed in these norms at the time. For instance, a lot of men have a very romanticized view of the 1950s in America was a man/husband has a hard day at work and comes home to his wife and kids and hot meal on the table.
This is a classic. Why is that a classic? It shows that his family, particularly his wife, was anticipating his needs after a long hard day at work. It’s a beautiful example yet one which those who hate God (feminists and their ilk) seek to ruin. They can’t stomach the underlying assumptions from the wife: anticipating a husband’s need, showing him respect, being kind, giving and generous with her time. God forbid she shows that she actually likes her husband or being a housewife (or other things of that nature).
It is a good example of understanding why many men wish to go back to such a time (even though 1950s America wasn’t anymore “Christian” than America is today). A wife and family that actually cared and respected them. This is not to say it cannot happen today either, but it is vastly more difficult to raise a family fighting against secular and even conservative or Church currents that may push against it.
In conclusion, first work on Biblical marital roles and responsibilities. They are the bare minimum. Then seek to go above and beyond by trying to anticipate your wife’s or your husband’s needs.