There are times when it’s right to take a hike. Your business partner is getting lazy. Your dentist pulls the wrong tooth. Your boyfriend starts doing drugs. Your girlfriend wreaks your car and doesn’t even apologize. You need to dissociate, divide, disconnect, split or disjoin. It can be painful but there are times when you need to just do it and move on.
But what about husband and wife? What about divorce, so common in our times? In our society, people tend to calculate what seems fair. It seems fair that the faithfulness of each spouse should be at least equal to the faithfulness of the other spouse. If your spouse is not faithful in one way or another, however, why should you be held to a higher standard? For Christians, in contrast, mere fairness is not an adequate goal. Jesus went way beyond “fair” for us; he went all the way to the Cross. As St. Paul teaches in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, our faithfulness to our spouse shares in and is measured by the faithfulness of Jesus to us and to his Church. This is absolute faithfulness, no matter what. This is the faithfulness of the Cross. It requires a leap of faith, of faith in your spouse but even more of faith in God.
This leap of faith invites God into the marriage so that he can form the bond of unity. As Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mt 19:6). By the grace of Christ, the couple’s human love is infused with divine love. Each spouse joins—through prayer, forgiveness and sacrifice—in the work of Christ for the salvation of the other spouse. It is not always easy and it is not always “fair,” but it is always good and even beautiful. Sacramental marriage is a leap of faith right into God’s hands and into God’s work of love.