If your faith can not save you from your own self-centeredness, your own selfishness, then it will not save you from Hell.
No where is it more obvious and painfully clear to both those who claim Christianity and those outside the faith to readily see the true nature of a person’s heart, then by observing their response to the Christian viewpoint on marriage. Christ’s teachings on this matter are clear and absolute; as a result this is where pretenders and hypocrites are sorted out, where the wheat is separated from the chafe. This is where those who are a ‘good person’ and a ‘nice person’ have their selfish, self-centered, self serving heart exposed.
These next sentences are critical to those who claim the Christian faith. The Christian idea of marriage is based upon Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single creature (one-flesh), and that Jesus was not expressing a sentiment, but rather a fact – just like a lock and key are one mechanism. When God created humans, He created them in two halves, the male and the female, they were made to be combined (joined together) not just on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual “relations” (as we like to call it) outside marriage is that those who live that lifestyle are attempting to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which are intended to go along with it and form the complete union.
As a consequence, Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s. Divorce plus remarriage, equals adultery. You will hear a lot of ‘Christians’ who will take issue with that statement, but it does not alter Jesus’ teachings on marriage. He was crystal clear and left no wiggle room. Christians and all Christian churches following Jesus’ teachings, regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation that is so violent that it cannot be done. That divorce is more like having both of your legs and arms cut off with a rusty dull saw, than it is like dissolving a business partnership. Christians follow Jesus’ teaching that disagrees and condemns the modern viewpoint that divorce is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever someone feels they are no longer in love with the other, or when either of them “falls in love” with someone else.
One must not forget to consider this in relation to another virtue that I wrote previously about, “Justice”. Justice as I mentioned in a previous posting includes keeping promises. Everyone who has been married in a church has made a public solemn vow to stick to his or her partner until death. The duty and responsibility of keeping that promise has no special connection with sexual morality: it is the same as any other vow or promise. If as some would have us believe that the sexual desire is just like all other desires; then it should justifiably be treated like all our other desires; and as our other desires are controlled by our promises, so should this one be. If it is as I believe, it is not like all our other desires, but is rather one that is morbidly inflamed, then we should be especially careful to not let it lead us into dishonesty.
Now I freely admit that there are those who make this promise as a mere formality and never intend to keep it. Who were they trying to deceive, the groom, the bride or the in-laws, or just the public? If so their words and heart is treacherous. Or perhaps he or she is trying, when they make the vow to deceive God, if so they can only be counted among the foolish, the very - very foolish. These individuals want the benefits and the respectability that is attached to marriage without ever intending to pay the price that is required. They are imposters, they are liars, they are cheaters and God calls them adulterers. If they remain contented to be a liars, and adulterer, then I have nothing to say to them (pearls before swine’s), who would urge the high and hard duty of chastity on someone who has not yet desired to be merely honest? However if they have now removed the blinders from their eyes and truly want to be honest, then their promise, already made constrains them. This then comes under the heading of Justice.
The idea that some have that “being in love” is the only reason for remaining married, leaves no room for marriage as a promise at all. If love is the entire thing, then the promise can add nothing, and if it adds nothing then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers know this while they remain really in love, better than those who talk about love. The Christian law of marriage simply demands what lovers already know, that they should take seriously something which their passion impels them to do.
Of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to my beloved as long as I live commits one to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions. No one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. You might as well promise to never have a headache or to always feel thirsty.
Being “in love” is a glorious state, and in several ways is good for us, it helps us to be generous and courageous, it opens our eyes to beauty, and it conquers lust. No one would deny that being in love is better than common sensuality or self-centeredness. Being ‘in love” is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. It is a noble feeling, but it is till just a feeling, no feeling can be relied upon to last in its full intensity or even at all. Principles can last, knowledge can last, habits can last; but feelings… they come and go. However, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to LOVE. LOVE as opposed to “being in love” is not merely a feeling, rather it is a deep unity, maintained by will and deliberately strengthened by habit, and grace. This LOVE can be kept even in those moments (hours, days, weeks, months) that you do not like each other, just as you love yourself even when you dislike yourself. This LOVE can be retained even when each other would easily if they allowed themselves, to “be in love” with someone else. “Being in love” is what moves one to a promise of fidelity until death, “LOVE” enables you to keep that promise.
This is one little part, I think, of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. Far too few people understand that if you decide to make thrills (being in-love) the definition of love, then over time the thrill will get weaker and weaker, fewer and fewer, until you at last end up a bored disillusioned old man or woman. However if you let the thrill go- let it die away- go on through that period of death into the happiness that follows (Love, honor, commitment, loyalty, faith, hope)- you will find that you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. It is because so few people understand this that you see husbands and wives destroying themselves, their spouses, their families, their faith, when they are at the very point when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them.
As I said in the beginning - If your faith can not save you from your own self-centeredness, your own selfishness, then it will not save you from Hell.