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Blog 8: Be Transformed - God’s Faithful Love

By: Dr. Bob Schuchts

 

What God has joined together,

no human being

must separate

Matthew 19:6

Bonds of Love

Despite the well-known fact that marriage is lowly regarded in modern society (as evidenced by high divorce rates and recent trends in cohabiting and premarital sex), God intended the sacrament of Marriage to be the source of love and life in every family and the foundation of security for every human person. As St. John Paul II has so eloquently stated, the family is the center and the heart of the civilization of love and the first school of love. Every child’s heart and overall well-being is formed in this school of love between his or her parents. When bonds of love are secure, children and adults alike experience a pervasive sense of peace and joy, which allows them to thrive and develop to their fullest potential. Having their identity rooted and grounded in God’s faithful love (see Ephesians 3:16), these secure love bonds enable all the members of the family to experience peace, freedom, and a nourishing intimacy.

Bonds of Fear

The converse is also true. The absence of God’s faithful love in marriage and family life leaves everyone feeling insecure. Children and spouses are then schooled in the way of fear and eventually form what researchers call “fear bonds.” These pseudo-bonds formed in the absence of love are fortified by proud judgments and confining self-protections. In this kind of environment it is difficult for married couples and children alike to find genuine connectedness or develop lasting trust with one another. These wounds of fear instinctively motivate all the members of the family to remain isolated in order to avoid more pain, thus creating environments rife with mistrust, which in turn exacerbates more fear and mistrust.

Broken Covenant

This problem goes all the way back to the fall of mankind, when Adam and Eve broke their covenant with God and subsequently invited seeds of division, mistrust, and infidelity into all human relationships (see Genesis 3). Since then, every relationship that is not formed and sustained by God’s Spirit eventually becomes unfaithful to one degree or another. This is most damaging in marriage, because God intended the marital covenant to be the place where his faithful love would be on display for all to see and experience. 

Faces of Unfaithfulness

The faces of unfaithfulness are many. Divorce and adultery represent major breaches in marital fidelity, but they are not the only ones. Belittling one’s spouse or family members with words or actions is a form of unfaithfulness. Withholding love is unfaithfulness. Judging one another is unfaithfulness. Looking at pornography is unfaithfulness. Holding grudges and failing to forgive is unfaithfulness. Gossiping about one’s spouse to friends and relatives is unfaithfulness. None of these infidelities, no matter how large or small, allows Jesus’ love to permeate the marriage relationship. Instead, they serve to spread fear and mistrust, permeating through the family like a deadly cancer.

Distorting Images of God

As spouses and children internalize these hurtful interactions, a pervasive sense of insecurity settles into each of their souls, leaving wounds that could last a lifetime, if not healed. Moreover, when the bonds of love between a husband and wife are completely broken, their own hearts and the hearts of their children likewise become violently ripped apart in the process (Mal 2:16). At times like this, when the bond of love is torn asunder, fear and mistrust often become strongholds in each person’s heart. Among the gravest of consequences of broken relationships is that individual family members internalize a distorted perception of God, of themselves, and of all human relationships. As a result they lose touch with their true identity. Eventually marriage is devalued and relationships become transitory. Under these conditions, the secure love God intended for every human person seems unreachable, and thus we witness the destructive patterns of relationships that are rampant in our culture.

Excerpts from Be Transformed, pages 103-105.

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