“Deep Character Change Through Deep Friendship” – Tim Keller’s Mission for Marriage

Among the rationales for marriage, usually by those with this overzealous ‘give glory to God’ sentiment, is for personal sanctification (pursuit of virtue or righteousness). “God’s primary purpose for marriage is to use it to help shape us into the image of His Son”. Tim Keller (“The Meaning of Marriage”), who has a more intelligible grip on marriage and speaks and writes in the vernacular rather than Christianese, would suggest a primary mission is “deep character change through deep friendship”.

Marriage as conduit for righteousness emits of a Stoic odour, whereby virtue primarily exists for its own sake and as ultimate goal. With spouse and relationship becoming vehicles to exploit for personal ends, even noble ends; that very dynamic becomes unethical in a ‘noble’ cause.

The onus is wrongly reversed. That which ought to be esteemed is denigrated under that which is esteemed. Although optimally, regardless of which element is stressed, character change or friendship, the same level of virtue should theoretically be produced; in prizing character change over relationship and spouse, in altering ultimate telos (purpose), the latter suffer from lacking primacy of regard, concern and love. The spouse will sense that denigration as consequence, even if virtue is of the highest caliber. In placing the ‘god’ of virtue over the ‘god’ of love, the spouse will duly suffer neglect, especially as humanity falls short of attaining the highest caliber.

Christ’s preaching concentrated upon the Kingdom; whereby virtues are means to accomplishing those ends and outcomes. The good society ultimately is one populated with self-governing, virtuous people, who even Karl Marx noted, might not even have need of an external governance. The outsider will be prone to first observe the quality of the outcome and only later inquire as to the means by which it was brought about.

Marriage is the end mission and purpose. A good marriage always brings glory to God because it requires the practicing of His principles in order to achieve it. Deep character change is conducive to the quality of deep friendship. The desire for deep friendship ought to motivate deep character change. Those who stress ‘glory to God’ in its various manifestations, have proclivity to short circuit His counsel for their own manufactured ‘traditions of men’.

Marriage’s main mission and telos ought to be to foster deep friendship through deep character change.

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