They tell you not to let the sun go down on your anger (which in Britain leaves you about 14 minutes a day of angry time if you’re employed), and they tell you that sex is good (because we all need so much convincing). But they don’t tell you about the fear.
I tell all my single friends about the fear. They tell me only marriage will make them happy and I tell them about two things:
1. That marriage (hopefully) means never experiencing falling in love, first kisses or tentatively holding the hand of a stranger again.
2. The fear.
I want to tell you about the fear.
I’m a good evangelical, you see. Well, I’m an evangelical. And from the moment I got saved at a Baptist summer camp and accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins, I believed that I was going to heaven. The fear of hell that I’d experienced all my life lifted from my shoulders when I said that tearful prayer. From then on I believed that to live was Christ and to die was gain. Gain. Not in a figure-of-speech way, but for real.
But some time after I got married, that changed. Quite against my wishes and completely unplanned, I realised that I loved my wife so much that the very idea of her dying filled me with fear. The fear. I feared separation from her, feared her death more than I have feared anything in my life. More than that, for the first time in years I feared my own death because of the pain and loneliness I knew it would cause her.
As you can imagine, I was annoyed. I took my complaint to my wife: “Look what you’ve done!” I said. “Why could you not be less likeable, less beautiful, less kind?”
“You’re an idiot,” she said. This is why I love her. So that kind of made things worse.
Let me ask you something. Have you ever noticed how often people die in movies? Even supposedly funny movies? I have. And you know all those heart-crushing moments of loss? Your marriage will experience that. Unless you’re into synchronised dying (and trust me, I’ve considered it).
You see, I love my wife desperately. And platitudes about a heaven in which I may not see her (or worse, may have forgotten her) have never helped me see death as anything other than pure and devastating loss. Yeah, yeah. I know. Bad Christian.
But recently, through talks and books by people like Tom Wright and John Polkinghorne, I’ve become familiar with the idea that our destiny is resurrection. Bodily resurrection, in a world like this, only better. Without death.
It doesn’t take away the fear completely. I still kiss my wife like it’s the last time every night we go to sleep.
But the hope of resurrection makes me think: God may love us, may have made a plan for frail human beings who love this world too much. And that makes me love Him more.