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I’m going to interrupt my Lent blogs to address something I saw last night that truly bothers me.

I’m no fan of the Oscar ceremonies.  To me, it’s always too long with too many speeches. Sure, I’m happy for those who win.  I understand the necessity of award ceremonies. I’m sure people felt the same when I won my book award in Hong Kong.  What caught my attention is Ben Affleck’s speech.  http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/ben-affleck-thanks-jennifer-garner-for-working-on-their-marriage-153803671.html

I’m no fan of Affleck.  I don’t have a particularly Affleck stance.  I neither hate him nor like him.  However, the jokes made after the joke Affleck made about marriage concerns me.  Affleck thanked Jennifer Garner for working on their marriage for a decade.  I thought it was sweet.  More importantly, I thought Affleck spoke truth.  Many made fun of the fact Affleck called marriage work. The same commentators miss the point because they just don’t get marriage.

In a society that values feelings over truth, one-night stand over sustained passion, warm fuzzy over commitment, and entitlement over labor, Affleck’s comment sure strikes us as odd. The very fact people thought his comment was laughable speaks more about their warped view on marriage than about Affleck’s speech or marriage.  I’ve read various statistics of how long an average marriage lasts in the US. Besides the usually quoted 50% divorce, the average marriage lasts about 8 years in the US.  Marriage has become a throwaway institution, much like recycled bottles.  The fact Affleck’s marriage outlasted the average might speak volumes about the word “work.”

There’re many reasons why marriages fail.  Some of the reasons are very legitimate.  Others are not.  In a society where everything is disposable, it is hard to see marriage as work, but if we ask all couples who have been married for a lifetime, they would all say that it’s hard work.  As Christians, we should not disparage the work aspect of marriage.

In Eph. 5.22-33, the author described the Christian marriage as a mystery between Christ and the church.  I don’t know how people feel about the gender roles here, and gender roles are not the only issue at work here.  Sure, the author said that the wife had to submit to the husband.  We often neglect that the husband had to love the wife like Christ loved the church and died for her.  Both genders have a lot of work cut out for them.  Who’s to say that love is all about feelings?  Commitment takes work.  Marriage is not always a bed of roses without thorns.  The society’s mockery of the hard work of marriage is the exact reason why marriages fail.

My wife and I have been married for more than two decades.  Commitment IS work.  William Shakespeare rightly wrote in his sonnet:

Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! It is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.