Thursday, December 20, 2012

Impediments to Marriage

I am now 56 years old, and I still remain single (never married or divorced) even after all these years.

How does one explain that fact? Well, I tend to be pretty demanding in terms of what I am looking for in a woman; the mere possession of the requisite sexual organs is hardly sufficient.  Worse, I am a person who would like for the woman to be somewhat pretty. (I can hear all the women calling me a shallow cad. But I can't help it. I am a normal guy, and the idea of lying next to a woman so ugly that they make jokes about her. (Example: "You're so ugly, you make blind kids cry.")
Moreover, I am one of those people who believe that marriage ought to be based on commonalities in terms of values. That means that I always looked for a woman who was committed to Jesus Christ, to a degree which somewhat matched my own commitment. Even those two factors alone significantly diminished my chances of finding a good love match.

Even worse, I was serious about making every effort to obey Jesus in all matters. As I read my Bible, I could not help but conclude that Jesus was less than thrilled with the idea of divorce. He was willing to make allowances in cases where one's partner had committed the sin of adultery, but that seemed to be more of a legal concession to reality than an expression of God's ideal.

Of course, as many people will point out, we live in a world which is far from ideal. But even if this life is not ideal, it seems to me that Jesus meant it when he said, "Be ye therefore perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

Am I perfect? No, of course not. But I came from a broken family, caused by the fact that my father reneged on his marital promises to my mother. (Not that she was totally blameless in the matter.) I had spoken my mind on the matter at the time; I had very plainly told my father that I believed he had sinned against my mother, and also against me and my brother Matt, when he had had the affair which led to his second marriage. (Statistically speaking, second marriages are less likely to succeed than first marriages, and my dad's second marriage was true to form in that respect; while his marriage to my mother lasted 15 years, he divorced his second wife after a much shorter period of time.)

Therefore, I'd have felt a bit like a hypocrite if I had openly sought a love relationship with a divorced woman. The older I got, the more that became a problem for me. There just weren't many single women or widows from whom to choose. I became aware of that fact when I started looking at personals ads in publications designed for men and women looking for relationships with compatible people of the opposite sex. Even in my thirties, I had begun to despair of ever finding a loving woman with whom to create a lasting marital bond.

Now it's even worse. I am now 56 years old. Even if I did not now have a physical disability, the mere fact that I am 56 is a significant impediment. I suppose that I ought to be realistic enough that I am opened to the idea of a relationship with a woman who is divorced. But I would be very demanding in that respect. I would want to know, number one, that the divorce was not caused by marital unfaithfulness on the part of that woman, or that she had repented of any sin of hers which had led to the divorce, if that had been the case. I have never committed fornication or adultery, so I do not think that it would be too much for me to ask these things of any woman who hoped to become my husband.

Like I said earlier, I am not a perfect man. On occasions when my loneliness became too much to bear, I have occasionally yielded to the temptation to look at materials I ought not to have looked at, if one is to believe what is often taught by my fellow Christian believers. Even if chances seemed incredibly slim that I would ever find a loving wife, I wanted to at least think that it might be possible.

Some would say that I should feel depraved on account of these occasional lapses. But truthfully, it would be more accurate to say that I have felt as if I was unfairly deprived. I am not a eunuch (a castrated man), and I have the same sexual desires as any other normal man.

Actually, I'm not sure that castration would normally result in a man with abnormal sexual desires. Lack of ability does not necessarily translate into lack of desire. Do you think that people who are paralyzed from the neck down would not be thrilled if they woke up tomorrow and learned that they could run like gazelles?

Steve Carell once starred in a movie entitled The 40 Year Old Virgin. I have thought, "Steve, buddy, if you think 40 is bad, try 56. The desires do not get any less intense as the years go by."

Carell's celibacy was described as "involuntary". Mine has been, too, in the sense that I would have much preferred marriage. On the other hand, one could argue that my condition was voluntary in the sense that my standards were so high that I significantly cut my own chances of finding the woman I had been looking for.

St. Paul, when writing about the single life, tried to console those who had failed in the game of love by pointing out the spiritual benefits of a life unencumbered by obligations to spouse and children. I'm sure that that's true, but it still doesn't compensate for the feeling of unfair deprivation, especially when one is living in a sex-saturated culture where practically everyone else seems to be "doing it".

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