“Marriage as an institution developed from rape as a practice. Rape, originally defined as abduction, became marriage by capture. Marriage meant the taking was to extend in time, to be not only use of but possession of, or ownership.”
– Andrea Dworkin, as quoted in Daughters in Danger.
I enjoy reading.
But there are times when reading is completely soul wrenching. Soul wrenching to the point where dinner is no longer what is on your mind at 12 o’clock, but the sad and twisted world is.
I knew that reading Daughters in Danger was going to be a tough book for me to get through.
One, because I am going to be a father of a precious little girl soon and a stark slap in the face with grim reality was not something I wanted. But I knew it was something that I needed. Raising children, not just girls, is by no means easy and I wanted to go into this well aware of what was in store.
Two, because I was going to be confronted and forced to put down my rose colored glasses. They have blinded me to a lot of things, especially about rearing kids and the problems in the world. I need to put off my naiveté and embrace the sobering reality.
Part of that sobering reality was Ms. Dworkin’s statement about marriage.
And wow, what a statement.
A statement like this cuts my heart wide open, as a happily married man, but also a minister and future father.
Is this what people think of marriage?
While some may look at this statement and assume that this is a extremist view (which it is), most people really do not have a well rounded view of what marriage is supposed to be.
They wouldn’t call it practiced rape, but they would be hard pressed to actually put into words what they think marriage is, or what it should be.
I am by no means an expert on marriage or sustaining long relationships. You may mock my attempt at opposing Dworkin’s opinion when I tell you that I haven’t been married for two years yet.
But I can say this with confidence.
When God instituted marriage, when God set up the family construct, this is not what He had in mind. Practiced rape, abduction, the possession and ownership of a spouse (in Dworkin’s case, it was men doing these things to women) were the furthest things from His mind and plan for marriage.
God did not not want marriage to be something violent and deplorable.
God intended marriage to be something else, something beautiful, something wonderful.
If I had to give a quick answer to what God thought marriage should look like, I would say something like this.
“Marriage as an institution developed from LOVE as a practice. LOVE, originally defined as the continual outpouring of one’s appreciation, devotion and favor onto one specific other, became marriage by CHOICE. Marriage meant the CHOOSING to exclusively LOVE one person for all time, to be not only the vessel into which procreation was intended, but a witness of GOD’S relationship with humanity.”
This idea of marriage is radically different than the idea of marriage that Dworkin had.
While I could talk about so many other things that are attached to the heart of marriage (and maybe I’ll do that later), the key that distinguishes the two is this: LOVE.
I am not dismissing God as something that makes the two definitions radically different, for as all believers know, our God is LOVE (1 John 4.8). But even for those that do not subscribe to a religious belief can agree that if there is no love in the marriage, it is not a marriage. It is something horrible and frightening. At times it can be damaging to the soul and body.
Love has to be the center, the foundation of a relationship or a marriage, or it can quickly become what Dworkin described.
What this quote has shown me is this: the world is sorely in need of love.
The world needs to realize that without love at the core of institutions like marriage everything falls apart. Without love, sex is meaningless and empty. In some cases , it could be rape.
Without love, there is no real wonder or beauty in what God has established. Without love, the world is a sick and dying place.
Without love, despite having rose colored glasses on, the world and all its relationships are bleak.
I still have time before my little girl is born and is welcomed into the world, dark though it may be.
But I hope that I will be able to show her that it isn’t all terrible.
While there are those that see the world so dark and cold, horrific and violent, while there are those that see things like marriage reduced to the disgusting act of practiced rape, I want to show her a more wonderful and beautiful world.
A world where marriage is founded and based on love, an outpouring of myself on her mother. A marriage of mutual appreciation, favor and devotion, rather than abuse and neglect.
I implore you, in your relationships, whatever size or shape they may take, may they be founded in love.