In the event I marry, I know someone will say to me about my wife: ‘Now wasn’t she worth the wait?’ My answer will of course be ‘No.’ The question implies that the joy your new spouse gives you is immeasurably greater than all the trials of being single. (It carries the flavour of God’s promise to the Israelites: ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten’ [Joel 2:25].)

The question is specious because of three false beliefs that underlie it. First, that being single is less desirable than being married: of course, people admit, you can have good times when you’re single and being married won’t always be bliss – but the idea persists that being single is a state of limbo, to be left behind as soon as possible. The second fallacy is that we can put a value on both the suffering of our past and of our present joy, and compare them [1]. Again, discomfort can be good for us – we may not like eating vegetables or going to the dentist but these are good for us. How do we put a worth on an experience that feels unpleasant but is necessary for our long-term benefit?

The third – and by far the greatest – false belief is to think that a person’s value equals what they do for us; how good they make us feel. This is a utilitarian view that means once your usefulness is over, you are next to worthless to them. If your relationship is based on this belief, what do you think will happen when your partner says, ‘I’m not in love with you anymore’ or ‘The old feeling has gone’? They are saying that you aren’t fulfilling their desires any more and so they end the relationship and look for another person to satisfy their desire for a happy-ever-after feeling.

The value of a thing is the highest price someone is willing to pay for it. And by that standard, the worth of any human being is the life of God. No one has paid a higher price for any person than Jesus of Nazareth, the word of Yahweh made human. Jesus said, No one has greater love than this; that he lays down his life for his friends [2]. Jesus himself laid down his life to save people who hated and rebelled against him. If you want to be worth something, what would you rather your value be: the pleasure you give another person, or the life and death of the King?

No matter how I feel about my future bride, she will not be worth the wait – she is already worth infinitely more.

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Footnotes

[1] As well as anticipate the joy of the future. In a similar way, this second belief ignores both the pleasures of being single and the sorrows accompanying couplehood.

[2] My translation of John 15:13. Note Jesus didn’t explicitly state ‘die’. We can lay down our lives every moment of every day for the good of another, as Ephesians 5:25 implies a husband is to do for his wife.

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