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wedding-night-1116722_1920In his time on earth, Jesus taught that God’s design for humanity included marriage. At the beginning of creation, he said, God made human beings male and female (Mark 10:6-9). However, not everyone in our culture has such a high view of marriage. For instance, in a February 2017 interview with Playboy magazine, award-winning actress Scarlett Johansson stated:

“I think the idea of marriage is very romantic; it’s a beautiful idea, and the practice of it can be a very beautiful thing. I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it’s work. It’s a lot of work. And the fact that it is such work for so many people—for everyone—the fact of that proves that it is not a natural thing.”

Marriage is hard work? Of course. Men and women often see things from different perspectives. We have slightly different ways of approaching problems and offering solutions. There’s no doubt that marriage is work, and is even a bit mysterious at times (Prov. 30:18-19). But is it a bad thing that men and women are different? Not at all.

We usually celebrate variety. Think of our enjoyment of different types of music, art, or cuisine. Personally, I find the study of diverse cultures to be fascinating. There is a richness that comes with variety. As they say, “Variety is the spice of life.” Without it, life would be very, very dull. No excitement. No new experiences. Nothing but a bland, predictable existence from one day to the next.

Yes, differences can create obstacles that need to be overcome. But is that a bad thing? There is a sense of camaraderie that comes with working together to triumph over something difficult, to create something beautiful, to help someone else fulfill a goal or realize a dream, or to join forces for a greater good (cf. Ecc. 4:9). In a sense, that is precisely what marriage does.

I’m sorry that Ms. Johansson holds such a low view of marriage. With two divorces behind her, she seems to be looking for a relationship that is both beautiful and effortless. But as an extraordinarily talented and accomplished actress, she has no doubt worked very hard at her craft. So have other actors, artists, musicians, students, and athletes, or anyone learning a new skill, working a labor-intensive trade, or starting a business from scratch. Almost any pursuit will benefit from investing extra effort. Unless we’re working too hard and wasting time, energy, and resources, we never really say that hard work is unnatural for anything else. In fact, we usually think of work as noble, while laziness is unnatural or at least unseemly. 

Marriage is the most intimate relationship two human beings can enjoy (cf.Gen. 2:24). Due to our differences, men and women sometimes need to work hard to make our marriages the best they can be. Marriage isn’t effortless. Nothing worthwhile ever is.