The Wrong Question: A Reflection on Marriage and Quiet Times
When I got married, one of the greatest changes to get used to was wearing my wedding ring. It’s titanium with a gold band in the middle—very light, but really thick. Thick enough for me to notice all day and all night, and for my pinky and middle finger to get sore. Suddenly, after being ringless from birth, I was now going to wear one for the rest of my life.
This little piece of jewelry struck a deep chord. It would grow with me. Cry with me. Rejoice with me. Work with me. Play with me. Relax with me. Look at my first child with me. Read many books with me. It was always there. Always on. And I was always fidgeting with it.
My ring was unmistakably visible to me when I typed on my keyboard at work. Every word I typed seemed to take on a different weight. It clinked on the cups of coffee I drank (which unfortunately tipped people off to how many cups of coffee I was drinking). I was perpetually afraid that if it was too cold outside and my fingers shrank, it would fall off. When I swam in the ocean, I swam with clenched fists.
It was unmistakable that I was a married man now…someone made of new stuff. And someone with a new, glaring piece of jewelry.
Simply, this one ring changed everything I did. That’s not an overstatement. And while it’s true that the ring itself was something I had to grow into—like trying to treat an unexepected guest as family—the bigger adjustment was that of being a married man.
As great and as beautiful as a ring is, it’s only a symbol. The deeper thing that changed was my role in the world. Now, I was a husband. Husbands act different than single men. Husbands have different responsibilities.
It made me grow up. To act more mature. As I typed on the keyboard at work, I felt the ring, and the ring reminded me how I wasn’t just working for myself anymore—I had a wife to take care of now. When I was out with friends, it reminded me that I had a wife at home waiting for me.
The ring is a symbol of the relationship.
Say I took the ring off before I went to bed one Sunday night, and then forgot to put it on the following morning. I then go the whole Monday without my ring on. Am I still a husband on Monday if I didn’t wear the ring? Was I more of a husband on Sunday when I had it on than on Monday when I had it off?
As someone who’s married, the question is not, “Have I worn my ring today?” Rather, the question is, “In my thoughts and my actions, am I bearing witness to the truth of being married?”
Our relationships are not task-driven or symbol-driven, but many times we make them so. Just because I wear my ring today, doesn’t mean I’m a good husband. Just because I do things for her like take her on dates and have dinner with her doesn’t mean I’m a good husband. Those are means to end, but not the end themselves. The aim in marriage is connection and unity and representation of the greater story of Christ and His Church. Dates, dinner, gifts, time…they are all ways in which we act to bear witness to the truth of being married. If we merely make them checklist items, we’ll have missed the whole point. We can go through the motions of marriage, do all the proper things, but still miss it all together. My wife doesn’t want me to take her on dates, she wants me to pursue her heart.
It’s not about the date, it’s about the person you’re dating. It’s not about having dinner together, it’s about pursuing deep knowledge of them through a shared meal. It’s not about what I give her, it’s about my heart behind the giving.
Quiet Time Christianity
Even though we all know how silly it would be if a married person was more worried about putting her ring being on than being a good wife, we forget to think of the same sort of actions as silly in our relationship with God.
Over the years for a growing Christian, instead of asking yourself, “In my thoughts and my actions, am I bearing witness to the truth of being God’s beloved child?” the question slowly becomes, “Have I done my quiet time today?”
But it doesn’t matter that you’ve done your quiet time if you don’t act like a disciple of Christ. If I spend five hours with God, but don’t love my neighbor as myself, what have I really done? If time with Him doesn’t result in some sort of real-life transformation, are we really spending our time with Him rightly? If we check off the “Do my quiet time” box but never change, are we on our way to becoming disciples, or are we just treading water, doing a lot of busy work but moving nowhere?
Before there was a Bible like we know it today, how did people “have a quiet time”? Abraham talked with God and was faithful to what he heard. Jesus read and internalized the Scriptures in order that he may embody them to the world. Yes, Jesus had a time in the morning where he talked to God and got alone. But notice the difference between what he did and what our Christian culture has done. Jesus took what God told him in their conversation and blessed the world with it. He took God’s truths and lived them by his love, shared them through his words, preached them by how he treated people. Jesus’ faith was not a portion of his day—it was a holistic lifestyle that influenced every single action he did. It’s important to memorize Scripture, but it’s infinitely more important to live Scripture.
There are two ways I can take my wife on a date. The first is because I know I should. The second is because I want to pursue her heart and love her more deeply.
In the same way, we could do our “quiet time” because we know that Christians should do that. But the way that leads to transformation is to approach Him from a heart that desires Jesus Himself. The first is a duty. The second is the beginnings of a relationship.