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March 8, 2010 / beidson

Particle Marriage: Will Your Cheap Furniture Outlast Your Promise?

Particle board furniture seems to fit our cultural temperament well: it gives the appearance of being sturdy, but under extreme pressure, it will break every time.  For all of its counterfeit beauty, particle board can’t match the strength of real wood.  Of course, it was never meant to.  It is imitation, and imitation can’t do what the real thing can do.  And this is precisely the point.

My daughter had a little table in her room that she got for Christmas about 2 years ago.  It had two chairs that went with it–one of them broke within months after the first Christmas, and the other had a huge crack on the back leg that made sitting very precarious.  A couple of months ago my son tried to push her table across the carpeted floor–bad idea.  As you know, carpet is not the best sliding surface.  It only took a few bulldozing-shoves and the legs of the table snapped right off.  It was going to happen sooner or later.  This table wasn’t meant to last forever.  It was the perfect little girl’s table, decorated with sparkling butterflies and cute pink chairs, but in reality, it was only an illusion.  This table looked solid, but it was built to fall apart.

A lot of marriages are like this.  They look solid on the outside, but they are cracked and unstable where it really counts.  A few hard shoves and it will all be over.  Bills, children, sickness, conflict, frustration . . . all shoving them and pushing them over.  The sad thing is that many of our marriages will not outlast our cheap furniture.  When the divorce papers are signed and belongings are divided, many of us will be arguing over who gets the $100 bookcase.

Marriage is meant to last.  It is not cheap imitation; it is a true reflection.  Our covenant with God and one another is not meant to be broken like scraps of cheap dormitory furniture.  Our lives together reflect the lovingkindness of Christ toward his Church, a love which no enemy will every destroy, no matter how hard he pushes.  So many of the trees in our own yards will be around for generations after we are forgotten.  This is okay, because trees were made to live for a long time.  But if we can’t stick together longer than wood chips and glue, we’ve got some major issues that need to be resolved.  What we need is to see the glory of marriage in the cross of Christ, a love that breaks the Husband on a cheap wooden structure, dying to redeem a bride he will always call his own.

There is a message in our $75 newly-wed table: be together when the chairs fall apart and the surface is marked by water damage–be together when the time comes to replace it.  Promises are permanent–particle board isn’t.  One is imitation–the other, illumination.  Both are gifts from God designed to give different messages.  Don’t get the two confused.

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