Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ultimately it's an act of worship...

We are once again in the middle of hosting "The Marriage Course", this time with a completely different group of people - and once again its been really enjoyable, meeting them, feeding them, and organising the course.

In this context I was asked to read "Married for God" by Christopher Ash because it is written partly as a crticism of The Marriage Course from a very theologically conservative position. Essentially the criticism is that 'The Marriage Course' is far too geared towards empowering couples to successfully steer their lives together; rather than being prescriptive about how they should live. As such Ash charges The Marriage Course with being less-than-Christian in its failure to critique consumerism, but using the Christian tradition as a facilitator for making happy marriages another lifestyle asset to consume.

Ash is both right and wrong in what he writes. Aside from the fact that he writes in a sometimes awkward and grating style, and with more than a hint of patronising his reader, and some decidedly minority interpretations of some key Biblical texts, Ash does make one especially telling point. The Marriage Course, with its practical treatment of matters such as 'communication', or 'conflict resolution' assumes that these are good things to achieve without exploring the motivation for doing so. This is in part because The Marriage Course is also designed to be accessible to people who are not committed Christians, but want to explore the practical benefits of the course and are willing to listen to this being done from a broadly Christian persective. Ash's insight then is that for the Christian, working at the practicalites of successful marriage are ultimately a matter of worship.

If Ash had thought that by reading his book I would have become less enthusiastic about The Marriage Course - he would be quite wrong however. If one shares his underlying perspective about life's motivation being worship; and that this is something not contained within church services, but which saturates all of life; then persuing the practicalities of "forgiveness" etc as seen on The Marriage Course, become not disposable lifestyle options - but urgent matters of discipleship! Some of what Ash writes may be questionable, but this key insight, makes me all the more eager to host The Marriage Course this evening, and not merely as a pleasant, enjoyable or even worthwhile thing to do. Ultimately, it's an act of worship.

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