A husband and wife are no longer individuals, but are of ‘one flesh’. Scripture tells us, ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” One flesh means that what one feels, the other feels. What one does, the other does. When one sins, they both sin and both need to work together to strive to overcome the sin. This is especially true of the sins of the flesh that one or both are battling.
Our goal as a Christian spouse is to help the other spouse gain entrance to heaven by helping them come closer to God each and every day. Sometimes, that means we have to point out their faults and their weak points. Maybe this works for others, but it doesn’t usually go over well here. I can’t help but think who wants the person they love to point out all of their imperfections? Isn’t our dream partner one who loves us unconditionally? So, shouldn’t they just overlook all of the not so pleasant sides of us?
This is a true challenge in marriage today. At least, it is in my marriage!
I came across this meditation today on a friend’s Facebook status. It struck me profoundly as it is a very powerful statement and really speaks to me today.
“We don’t teach meditation to the young monks. They are not ready for it until they stop slamming doors. — Thich Nhat Hanh to Thomas Merton in 1966
The piercing truth of this statement struck me as a perfect way to communicate the endless disguises and devices of the false self. There is no more clever way for the false self to hide than behind the mask of spirituality. The human ego will always try to name, categorize, fix, control, and insure all its experiences. For the ego everything is a commodity. It lives inside of self-manufactured boundaries instead of inside the boundaries of the God-self. It lives out of its own self-image instead of mirroring the image of God. It is that superior self-image which must die.
The ego is constantly searching for any solid and superior identity. A spiritual self-image gives us status, stability, and security. There is no better way to remain unconscious than to baptize and bless the forms of religion, even prayer itself. As long as I am going to church, it is really meaningless whether I close the door quietly or slam the door. A spiritual master would say, “first stop slamming doors, and then you can begin in the kindergarten of spirituality.” Too many priests, bishops, and ministers are still slamming doors, so how can we expect the laity to be any better?
In the name of seeking God, the ego pads and protects itself from self-discovery, which is an almost perfect cover for its inherent narcissism. I know this because I have done it all myself.” – Rohr
When I first read this, I immediately identified with it. I could easily sit here and accuse others I know (including my spouse) of hiding behind a wall of spiritual self-righteousness. But as I continued to ponder this truth, I realized that the ‘point’ in this sword of truth is really in my own gut. I have slammed a few doors in my time, especially when I am angry. It happens when I allow myself to build up that self-righteous feeling, believing that I am right and the other person is wrong but just too bull-headed to listen or admit it. I admit to hiding behind my ‘image’ as a good Christian knowing deep down that if those that really know me and know of my sins could speak out, it wouldn’t be all rosy and sweet but rather more like the stench of a road-killed skunk!
I especially find this concept hard in a marriage. It is so easy to see our spouse’s failings but to ignore our own. As a spouse, it is our role to help them get to heaven. So, pointing out when they are ‘slamming doors’ is good — but to do so requires that we aren’t also slamming our own doors in the process. Our spouse is never inferior to us. Nor are they superior. Instead, spouses need to be teammates helping each other tear the walls that get built between them down AND most importantly, it needs to be done in the greatest of humility.
If we are truly one flesh, then a spouse needs to always realize that what splinters they are pointing out in the other’s eye, are really in their own eye as well. It is so easy to ‘know’ inside when I have done something wrong. It is an entirely different thing to speak that knowledge for others to hear. Why is it any different for our spouse? It should be just as difficult to acknowledge their sins as it is to acknowledge our own.
Honestly, I think this is why so many marriages now end in divorce. Couples are not taught the true meaning of being ‘one’ and the realities that come with being one. When hard times come like lost jobs or illness, most couples know they are supposed to stick together. But what about if your spouse has an addiction to porn or drugs? Is that his/her problem? Is it really any different from an illness or lost job? It shouldn’t be different. But, it sure can seem to be!
The ego is constantly searching for any solid and superior identity.
But, a ‘one flesh’ marriage cannot survive with this ‘superior’ ego intact. To move to spiritual kindergarten and the true understanding of the ‘one flesh’ marriage, we need to stop slamming doors.