Marriage has been around almost as long as the romantic kind, but it was recently rediscovered as a “radical,” even courageous choice in the post-Obergefell v. Hodges era when same-sex couples received the legal right to marry. Like other trending topics, it has its own hashtag leading to tweets like: “can we normalize platonic marriage pls i would love to spend the rest of my life with people that i just don’t feel any romantic attraction to.” (Officialtheo23 (@officialtheo23), Twitter, May 13, 2022, https://twitter.com/officialtheo23/status/1525132444340346880). The reason that sex belongs in marriage, temporized by the joy of friendship, is because of how all-consuming God’s love is for His people. It is such a great mystery, so strong a force, that we cannot comprehend it. St. Paul’s admonition that the wife has authority over the husband’s body, as well as he over hers (1 Cor. 7:4), that he is to love her as himself, however haltingly obeyed, ultimately produces marriage in which men are expected to be both friends and lovers with their wives. Marriage, that most ancient rite, serves three purposes: a remedy against sexual sin, the procreation of children, and the mutual companionship and love that makes the long road to eternal life more comfortable, if not absolutely satisfying in its own right. Yet even these three purposes do not explain its greatest good — the icon of union with Christ. The layers of biblical and sacramental images culminating in the holy city coming down out of heaven adorned as a bride (Rev. 21:2) defy common sense safety-ism. We are caught up, corporately, into a communion with a Savior who searched out a bride with an unquenchable and unconquerable love. “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken,” cries Isaiah, anticipating the time when Christ will be all in all. “Your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married” (Isa. 62:3–4).
This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Anne Kennedy about her article, “A More Unconditional Love: Modern Iterations of Platonic Marriage” in the 45:2-3 (Fall 2022) edition of the Christian Research Journal.
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See also the related article “Marriage Is about the Gospel: Clarifying the Boundaries of Christian Orthodoxy” in this same issue and the podcast here.