Grokked, not yoked?

Posted: 19th June 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

Luke 20:34-36 (TNIV):

The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

It’s natural for us to ponder what relationships in the Kingdom of Heaven will be like. For those of us who are (happily) married, imagining life without the most immediate presence of our spouse is almost impossible. However, as I was reading Harold Best’s Unceasing Worship (almost done!) the introductory paragraph to a section on love and quality struck me as perhaps applicable to thinking about our relationships in the age to come:

Love is unconditional. Love loves everything except evil. The love of neighbor takes in everything about that neighbor. The only kind of selective love that has any sanctity is marital love. But selective love of this kind only goes so far – only as far as the beginning fact of courtship and the continuing circumstances of marriage. It applies to two people at a time as they continue to choose each other, ethically and lovingly, for as long as they have life. But even in the best possible marriage, this turns out to be insufficient. My love for my wife and hers for me are brought to their highest heights by the transformation of selective love into neighborly love. Selectivity is metamorphed into all-preceding love by which I am to conduct all of my affairs on this earth. This all-preceding love is love of neighbor. My wife, beyond being one with me, becomes my neighbor. This both remakes my love for her and elevates my concept of my neighbor, both of which I now select comprehensively and unconditionally. (pp.197-198)

Best cites Søren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love as bringing this thought to fruition in his heart. I guess that’s another title for my reading list…

I interpret “all-preceding love” as servant love, putting the needs of others before my selfish desires and inclinations. The concept of marital love being somehow less than the love we are called to in all of our relationships seems turned on its head from our normal way of thinking, but I think I understand his point. Especially if you use the “golden rule” as the ruler for marital gender relationships – I treat my wife as I would expect to be treated in a relationship. There is no stringent hierarchical “headship” or loose androgynous equality. We each have areas where we naturally lead and we each have areas where we are more easily led.

These combinations of strengths and weaknesses make us one in the image of God. The question then, based on Best’s quote, is whether in the age to come, all of our relationships will be perfectly realized such that we are one with every other person and as a community – serving and worshiping God together, not selectively yoked to one partner, but grokked with all.

  1. From Merriam-Webster’s online:

    Main Entry:
    transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s):
    grokked; grok·king
    coined by Robert A. Heinlein died 1988 American author

    : to understand profoundly and intuitively

  2. Sue says:

    Just curious. I have not, to my knowledge, seen a heterosexual marriage based on androgyny. Did you mean same sex marriage or a marriage where both husband and wife work, or something else?

  3. I meant that as the perception that some hard-core complementarians have of egalitarianism as an elimination of gender identity by role.

  4. Sue says:

    Thanks, I went back and reread the sentence and now it makes more sense. I really like your quote too. I think it sounds a bit more intimate to say your “next one” instead of “neighbour” – but not really idiomatic English.

  5. Thanks, Sue. The passage from Best’s book really resonated with me as I’ve held the “golden rule” as my marital yardstick for some time now.

    Are you familiar with the Kierkegaard title?

  6. Peter Kirk says:

    I was startled by the text you quote here. This sounds very like “Worldly people marry, but good Christians who are going to heaven don’t marry”. Is that what Jesus meant? I think I had better explore that idea.

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