If you scratch at the surface of the doctrine of the Trinity what you learn underneath is that God didn’t create humankind because needed to create. Our existence doesn’t owe to some poverty, absence or need in God.
God wasn’t lonely.
As Father, Son and Holy Spirit God already is- and has been eternally so- a community of perfect love and friendship. The Trinity is, as the theologians say, a perpetual exchange of gift and grace.
So God didn’t create us because God needed someone to love.
And God didn’t need to be loved.
Rather God creates to express and share the love God already enjoys as Father, Son and Spirit.
As I illustrate for confirmands, God’s love within the Trinity is like a fountain of water that is so full it overflows and spills out all over the place. Creation, you and me and everyone else is like the water that spills out from God.
Now: if we’re made in the image of this God then it follows that we’re to love and (pro)create as this God does. We have children not because we need someone to love and not because we need someone to love us. We have children to express a love we already enjoy and share. With our spouse.
The love of our spouse is primary and foundational.
The love of our spouse comes first.
And it should always come first. Even when others come into our lives later on.
This is a lesson I’ve learned by watching couples learn it the hard way. Too many husbands and wives, because their love for each is far from overflowing, turn to their children to give and receive the love they’re not giving to or receiving from their spouse. At best that’s unhealthy and at worst its idolatrous. And that’s not hyperbole. I see too many turn their children into idols because of a lack in their marriage. No different than the golden calf, we project onto our children a need they can’t possibly fill.
As I said in my sermon on Sunday: no child is big enough to fill what’s missing in their parent’s life. And no kid should have to bear such a burden. They’ll only get crushed underneath your expectations. Because if you look to your children for validation, to fill an emptiness inside you, you’ll need them to be perfect. And when they’re not-because no child is- there will be conflict.
When my wife and I began the adoption process for Gabriel, our son, we had to answer a battery of questions and go through several interviews assessing the health of our relationship, the depth of our faith and the strength of our self-image. Why?
To make sure we weren’t adopting a child because we needed to have a child to make us happy. I wish biological parents had to go through the same process.
Heard the wrong way this can sound harsh but its true: your primary commitment is to your spouse ‘til death do you part.
When God lamented Adam’s loneliness in the Garden, God didn’t give Adam a child.
God gave Adam a spouse.
The person to whom you’ve sworn vows is your spouse not your kids. If you’re a Christian, the only vows you make to your kids is at their baptism when you promise to raise them in such a way that they’ll share in the suffering, self-giving life of Christ.
You can’t cultivate a marriage, or even survive one, by loving your kids. However, you can raise loved, loving children by making a loving marriage your priority.
So that’s the #2 thing I’ve learned.
Marriage is about the person you’re married to.
It’s got to be.
If nothing else, do it for the kids.