Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The paradox of marriage

I'm up to my eyeballs in more John Milbank at the moment, which combined with a nasty bout of man-flu has left me rather brain-addled, and thus exactly in the mood for the sort of bracing things that Robert Farrar Capon writes. Did I mention that you should go away and READ HIM? Don't bother with Bed and Board: plain talk about marriage, though - it's far from his best, and he goes all weird and wives-submit-y. I should know because I read the whole thing looking for a reading to have at my wedding. This is the bit I picked, and it's the highlight of the book:

Marriage is a paradox second only to life itself. That at the age of twenty or so, with little knowledge of each other and a dangerous overdose of self-confidence, two human beings should undertake to commit themselves for life – and that church and state should receive their vows with a straight face – all this is absurd indeed. And it is tolerable only if it is reveled in as such. A pox on all the neat little explanations as to why it is reasonable that two teenagers should be bound to each other until death. It is not reasonable. It happens to be true to life, but it remains absurd. Up with the absurdity of marriage then. And up with the marriage service. It is full of death and cast iron. And it is one of the great remaining sanity markers. The world is going mad because it has too many reasonable options, and not enough interest or nerve to choose anything for good. In such a world, the marriage service is not reasonable, but it is sane; which is quite another matter. The lunatic lives in a world of reason, and he goes mad without making sense; it is precisely paradox that keeps the rest of us sane. To be born, to love a woman, to cry at music, to catch a cold, to die – these are not excursions on the narrow road of logic; they are blind launchings on a trackless sea. They are not bargains, they are commitments, and for ordinary people, marriage is the very keel of their commitment, the largest piece of ballast in their small and storm-tossed boat.
Ah, that's better. Back to the murky world of Milbank...
Photo credit: the talented Mr Andrew Parker, taken at our wedding.


Jim said...

Who's that handsome chap on your arm?

Andrew said...

I thought it was John Milbank