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Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional - Monday, December 3, 2018

“And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” — Mark 10:8

Jesus Defines Life and Marriage

The realm of marriage and the world of sports have much in common. If you’re not sure about that statement, read on and see if you agree.

My wife and I both played sports as we grew up. I focused on basketball with some success, and she was a standout soccer player. Our son and daughter also played sports while participating in other worthwhile pursuits, and it’s safe to say they surpassed our accomplishments. 

Our son was all-conference in soccer and baseball in high school, and our daughter was an All-American in Division III college soccer. (Pardon me for indulging in a proud-of-my-son-and-daughter Dad moment — mea culpa.)

All those who’ve played on a team have likely considered the helpful metaphors sports can lend on life’s journey. Let’s look at how the metaphors and lessons of sports apply to marriage.

One classic sports cliché refers to “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” In marriage, a husband and wife commit to each other “for better or worse … until death do us part” — the thrill and the agony, indeed. 

Winning is the objective of sports — at least, the most visible objective. There are other intangible aims, such as learning life skills and developing vital habits. But winning in sports is, yes, thrilling. You’re on top of the mountain and on top of the world. Yet for most teams, defeat also occurs often enough.

Marriage is in the same ballpark — a blend of wins and losses, for better or worse … sometimes on top of the mountain, sometimes down in the trenches. 

All the wisest marriage gurus I know say commitment is the foundation of marriage, the fuel that moves a couple through the ups and downs, the wins and losses. The romance can come and go, the emotions can ebb and flow, the connection and chemistry can head south … but the commitment to love your spouse is the bedrock. This is comparable, it seems, to the commitment teammates make to each other in the crucible of training, though the marriage commitment goes beyond because it’s a lifetime pledge. Certainly, lifelong devotion is the view of marriage presented by the Christian worldview. 

I grew up in the Church, and while I’ve wrestled with what the Christian worldview means in the context of other faiths and philosophies, I see an inescapable conclusion in the midst of my questions and uncertainties: The best philosophy, faith or worldview to embrace is the one that’s true. If Jesus of Nazareth truly is the Son of God and Son of Man — and the risen King of the new creation — He is the absolute difference-maker. And He defines life and marriage. 

To utilize another sports metaphor, He is the owner of the franchise. He calls the shots … while giving every team member freedom to make decisions for or against His management desires. 

His desire for marriage, as expressed in the Gospels, is as clear as the goals on a soccer field: “In the beginning the Creator made people male and female, and God said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together” (Matthew 19:4-8 GNB).

Bruce William Deckert

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