Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marriage and the Importance of Ritual and Symbol

In 1967 the Beatles first proclaimed all you need is love. These words have since then been sung probably a hundred-thousand times over. In their simplicity, these five words capture deep truth. Much wrong and evil in the world could be alleviated if only we could muster a little more love for one another. Although there is truth behind all you need is love, I want to suggest that it's inevitably not enough - that we need more than just love. Love doesn't always stand on its own two feet. Human love is fragile and is too often overcome by things like pride, lack of empathy, and hatred.

The human determination to love needs help along the way. This, I believe, is where ritual and symbol become invaluable. Ritual gives rhythm to our lives that are sometimes overly directed by feeling and emotion. Ritual helps us to love when we don't feel like loving the other. Ritual is that thing you do when you don't feel like doing it. Likewise, symbols help us to remember our commitments of love despite how little we feel. For example, a wedding band serves as a physical reminder that one is bound to a life-long covenant of love to his or her spouse. The ring is an outward confession of what is sometimes difficult to uphold internally. Ritual and symbol stand out-side one's self, reminding us and holding us accountable to the faithful commitments that partners have made with one another.

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