The Purpose Driven Marriage

On Saturday, after completing the Secret Shopping Mission(SSM), I happened to go home and log on to Christianity Today. The SSM has much to do with marriage, and in a weird bit of synchronicity, I happened to be reading about marriage. I am assuming, as a result of Rick Warren's prayer at the Inauguration, there was an article about the Purpose-Driven Marriage. (1)

I looked up at Mr. Spit and asked if we have a Purpose-Driven Marriage. Or wondering, have we been wandering, lost and purposeless, lo these last 8 years. Mr. Spit, God bless him, looked at me blankly.

There was me, thinking that we should get us one of them there Purpose Driven Marriages, and my DH was asking a sensible question. Why would we want a Purpose Driven Marriage?

Rick Warren has this to say:

In other words, until you realize you were placed here for God's purposes, then
your life—and your marriage—will be difficult, complicated, and exhausting.
But once you understand God's plan, your life—and your marriage—take on new

Now, given that my life and my marriage, have at times, since Gabriel's death, been difficult, complicated and exhausting, it is tempting to believe that if I only developed a Purpose Driven Marriage, and got Mr. Spit on board, well, things would not be difficult, complicated and exhausting. Indeed, when I look back on almost 8 years of marriage, it is easy to find times that have been difficult, complicated and exhausting. You mean we could have escaped all of this with a 5 point plan? (1)

What? Honest? They'd still be hard? Huh.

Now, even as I'm poking some fun at Rick's expense, I'm wondering. Why on earth do Christians fall for this? No, really, I'm asking. Why do we assume that God responds to our moves in some sort of pre-arranged dance? We move to the left (or, perhaps I should say the right) and have a Purpose Driven Marriage, and suddenly God says, "Oh the trials and tribulations of 'real life', they get a by. They have a Purpose Driven Marriage."

It's not that I object to what Rick Warren has to say about marriage, about how to have a good marriage. I think he has some great ideas. I object to branding marriage. I object to the notion that there is only one way for a couple to have a good marriage. I object to the idea that a couple can read this article, or the book, and not have to figure it out on their own. And after almost 8 years of marriage, I resent the implication that marriage is anything more than a magnificent mystery. I object to the idea that we shouldn't have times that are difficult, complicated and exhausting. That's when we forge bonds to our spouse. In those Indiana Jones moments -when we are standing back to back, yelling about the world that is swirling around us, that's when we grow closest.

Perhaps as much as anything, I'm left a bit perplexed. God isn't purpose driven. Anything that created the aardvark, the kangaroo and the giraffe in one day, a being that created star systems for me to look at, the entire Andromeda Galaxy for me to marvel over, that created that much diversity in people, made my best friend laugh the way she does, that being isn't purpose driven. To be purpose driven is to reduce things to their barest essentials, the lowest common denominator. It's to make everything uniform and efficient. It's to remove mystery in favour of function. God is none of those things.

You can keep your purpose driven life and marriage Mr. Warren. I'll take mine, with all it's messiness and inefficiencies. I'll take meandering toward heaven, not a relentless march toward uniformity.

(1) You can read the text here.
(2) All Anglican sermon's are based on a five point plan. Except for the holiday ones, like Christmas and Easter, which are 3 point plans, and the sermon delivered when the Bishop comes, which is 7 points.