If you're unhappily married, maybe you think the solution lies in separation or divorce. Or perhaps you're single and long for the companionship and security represented by marriage. Well, here's news! Neither being married or single is the source of your quandary, even though it seems so to the human heart. In either case, a more spiritual perception of identity is the basic need.
We tend to identify ourselves as mortal, material beings, at the mercy of circumstances rather than masters of them. But a glimpse of the Biblically based truth that man is actually God's offspring, and that his harmony is a here-and-now reality, can alter the picture immediately.
The fact is, harmony and freedom, security and love, in the truest sense, are spiritual qualities, bestowed impartially by God on His entire creation. The Bible tells us that man is the likeness of God, male and female. Our actual selfhood, then, is the complete, individual expression of God, not a mortal of a particular gender. And as God's expression, we reflect the full spectrum of divine qualities. This is far from obvious to a limited, earthly sense of life. Yet a spiritual view of life shows it to be practical truth.
Genuine joy doesn't depend on our marital status but on our awakening to spiritual individuality, which is always satisfied and complete. The fact that men can be terrific at ''mothering,'' at expressing feminine qualities such as patience, affection, tenderness, points to this completeness. And isn't society more and more recognizing that women can express ''fathering,'' or masculine, qualities such as strength and endurance?
Examining our motives for wanting to be married or unmarried can be helpful. Are we caught up with the opinions of others, financial considerations, psychological theories, or sentimental traditions? Is pride an issue?
Human reasoning, of itself, may be hard-pressed to reveal satisfying answers to these probing questions. However, many people have found healing solutions when in prayer they've used their God-given spiritual sense, which reveals what we need to know and points us to the true source of happiness.
In a chapter titled ''Marriage'' in the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy n1 writes, ''Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul.'' n2 Here, the term ''Soul'' is synonymous with God, the source of all real life and love.
n1 The Discover and Founder of Christian Science.
n2 Science and Health with Key to theScriptures, p. 60.
Turning to God provides practical answers for every need. God is divine Love. He cherishes and cares for every identity in His creation. When we listen quietly in prayer, He reveals to us just how complete and satisfied He has made us already. And changes in our human situation that spring from this understanding are invariably appropriate and satisfying.
We read in the Bible: ''Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.'' n3 As we recognize and obey divine wisdom, we can release the fears that would impel selfish or wrongly motivated decisions. We can see the law of God, divine Principle, actively governing our daily life. This law is eternally just, uncompromisingly fair, and comfortingly merciful. And it operates every moment.
n3 Proverbs 3:5, 6.
Even past mistakes are rectified when we allow Love's law to govern our lives. In my own case, a marriage riddled with bitterness and disappointment, not to mention the vicious meddling of in-laws, was strengthened and preserved. We had begun on shaky foundations (albeit with the best of intentions) and had often been close to separating. A growing desire to trust God rather than run from problems or turn to psychology gradually erased the hurts and tensions that threatened the marriage. We've just passed the quarter-century mark, and we're still going strong!
What most impressed me about this whole experience is that it was never what ''the other guy'' did to change that made the difference. It was what I was willing to re-view through spiritual perception. As I learned not to accuse (mentally or verbally), but to really insist upon the truth of man as the upright, innocent, loving reflection of divine Love, harmony replaced grating unhappiness. Always, it was my own perception needing to conform to the model of man as God's perfect likeness.
I've come to realize, then, that an error of perception is the fundamental issue in relationship troubles. As our Master, Christ Jesus, put it, ''Your joy no man taketh from you.'' 4 Nor in fact does any ''man'' give it. Only a correct view of ourselves and others can give us the joy we seek, married or not.
n4 John 16:22.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21.