Video courtesy of Jamie J. Edwards
Last summer, the media couldn’t get enough of the word “entanglement” as actors Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith confronted rumors about infidelity in their relationship on an episode of Jada’s Facebook Red Table Talk show. The couple displayed a united front, forgiving the indiscretion and committing to their partnership no matter what happens.
For over two decades, people have been attempting to redefine marriage. And as commendable as pledging a lifelong commitment is, there is no difference between that and how God intended for us to approach our marriages. Marriage simply used to mean a union between one male and one female, but it is increasingly becoming a socially constructed concept with multiple meanings. People with nontraditional views of marriage seem to look down on others as closed-minded or inferior when they don’t waver in their traditional beliefs on marriage. Additionally, the concept of a life partner is gaining traction as though it supersedes marriage. However, if one looks at how God originally designed marriage, there is no need to create a “better” concept of the dyadic relationship. Perfection cannot be improved upon; it can only be tainted.
In Mark 10, Jesus says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Those who take this at face value will automatically see the lifelong commitment implication here. The Biblical version of marriage is not the problem; people have started to consider these sacred words as optional. Marriage is becoming more about how we feel rather than what we do. If we feel okay with our spouse’s actions on a particular day, we are more likely to want to stay married. If we’re going through a season in our relationship where things seem strained, or we feel a disconnect with our spouse, then we look for exit strategies. Soon, a habit that our spouse has had since we’ve known them becomes magnified as well as their other flaws. Or we retroactively recall how we never prayed about this marriage in the first place and begin to convince ourselves that this person was not who God intended for us, forgetting how we’d thanked God for sending us a “soulmate” initially. Suddenly, what was a blessing, turns into the biggest mistake that we’ve ever made in our lives. (At least that’s what we tell ourselves.) It’s not that God’s statutes changed. We’ve changed our minds, and we want to make the Word fit our scenarios.
The Smiths have openly shared how they began to redefine their union during rough patches in their relationship. While some may consider it amazing that this couple has found a way to stay together, others may find the terminology and overall explanation hubristic as it implies that a life partnership somehow transcends God’s plan for marriage. When one enters into a marital relationship with the mentality that there are no exit doors other than death, then the lifetime commitment doesn’t have to be an addendum. It’s built into the fabric of the relationship. When one truly embraces all the components of love as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7, there is grace for flaws. Furthermore, an “entanglement” doesn’t have to be the end of a marriage but could signify the beginning of a new and better one. While marital healing from “entanglements” requires contrition from the entangler and forgiveness from the spouse, couples must learn that infidelity is not the problem in a marriage, only a symptom.
Having a life partnership mentality toward marriage is great, but it should not replace what God has already perfected. Marriage is not a meaningless piece of paper or a man-made control mechanism. It’s a God-ordained institution that pre-dates sin. In its heyday, it was flawless. Now that we are inhabitants of this broken world, it is stained by ideologies and philosophies that attempt to undermine its importance. A life partnership may be a verbal contract between two people, but a marriage is a covenant between the couple and God. When we realize that, we don’t have to find creative ways to ensure that we stay together because we’ve already decided that we would when we began our journey.