Stretch marks


Many people of marriageable age think it insane to marry before living with the person first. “You need to get to know them,” they say. What about getting to know them in marriage? They say it’s too late then to pull out without major hassle.

The point deserves due consideration. It cannot be denied that God actually wants a young man and woman to start living together under one roof, in a legally binding situation, when there is still much about each other that is a “wild card.” The couple might discover on Day 1 that she is a night owl and he is a morning person, or that she likes a good argument, and he flips on the ballgame at the first whiff of confrontation.

So does the Shacking Up crowd have the better case? Wouldn’t these disappointing personality traits more conveniently come to light in a cohabitation arrangement that is not legally complicated? You test-drive cars, don’t you?

And yet God has so ordained that—by design!—when we marry we throw in our lot with a stranger. (The best-foot-forward business of courting is to marriage as the trailer is to the feature film—an alluring but imprecise sampling.) Why is God OK with us not having enough information about our future partner before promising to stick with him till we die?

The obvious answer is that evidently God figures we do have enough information. Assuming we have spent reasonable time with the candidate, we have observed him in a finite number of situations. Do we now hold out for an infinite number? I suppose there is always one more experiment we could have tried—one more beach outing or formal dinner under Aunt Eunice’s judgmental eye. But at some point it’s time to fish or cut bait. (Even this probationary season we call courting is an oddity east of the Caucasus.)


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