quotes from "The Mystery of Marriage" [Mike Mason, 1985]

"There is just something so purely and untouchably mysterious in the fact of living out one's days cheek by jowl under the same roof with another being who always remains, no matter how close you manage to get, essentially a stranger. You know this person better than you have ever known anyone, yet often you wonder whether you know them at all. The sense of strangeness increases, almost, with the depth and security of the loved one's embrace."

"What is this alien, unknowable place at the very heart of the one we love? Probably it is the place of our own familiarity with God. For one of the most profound ways in which the Lord touches us, and teaches us about Himself and His Own essential otherness, is through the very limits He has placed upon our relationships with one another. It is an enormous source of human frustration that our need for intimacy far outstrips its capacity to be met in other people. Primarily what keeps us separate is our sin, but there is also another factor, which is that in each one of us the holiest and neediest and most sensitive place of all has been made and is reserved for God alone, so that only He can enter there. No one else can love us as He does, and no one can be the sort of Friend to us that He is…And so the very distance we feel from the person we love most dearly may be, paradoxically, a measure of the overwhelming closeness of God." (pages 44-45)

"To put it simply, marriage is a relationship far more engrossing than we want it to be. It always turns out to be more than we bargained for. It is disturbingly intense, disruptively involving, and that is exactly the way it was designed to be. It is supposed to be more, almost, than we can handle. It was meant to be a lifelong encounter that would be much more rigorous and demanding than anything invented on their own. After all, we do not even choose to undergo such far-reaching encounters with our closest and dearest friends. Only marriage urges us into these deep and unknown waters. For that is its very purpose: to get us out beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real personal encounter."

"And that, incidentally, is also what true religion is supposed to do. It is supposed to remind us that God is not an idol of our own making, not a human invention, not a concept or a theory or a projection or extension of ourselves, not a tool (any more than a marriage partner is a tool). No, the bizarre fact of the matter is that God, while invisible, reality is there-out there, beyond our wildest dreams. He is a living Being with personhood, a true Other Whom we can know with all the full-color intimacy and immediacy (and even more!) with which we know ourselves and the person we love, and with which we sense that we are known in return. To know the Lord is to be brought into a personal relationship so dramatic and overwhelming that marriage is only a pale image of it. Still, marriage is the closest analogy in earthly experience, and that is why the Bible so often uses the picture of a wedding, and of the bridge and groom, to convey something of what it means for human beings to be united to God in love. The Christian faith, like marriage, aims at teaching us that the time when we are most ourselves is, paradoxically, when we are busy losing ourselves in another, when we are before the altar making vows of love and self-sacrifice, when we are out of our own depth and drowning in the deep waters of otherness. That is when we can begin to discover, experimentally, that others are as real as we are, and therefore begin to love them as we love ourselves and even as God so incredibly loves His people." (pages 46-48)