Avowed Paradox

marriage - hands & rings2

With words of commitment
and with hands joined,
and with rings given and received,
they, paradoxically
(in the presence of their invited witnesses
to their madness),
sealed their destiny
by wistfully,
tossing away
their individual liberty.

For in making and taking their vows, they

(born into their families
and, by them, nurtured to be
independent, ethically-acting agents
in the world,
responsible for
– and accountable for the consequences of –
their choices)

no longer had possession of the fullest freedom
to do what they each chose
and when,
and where,
and with whom,
and how,
and for how long;
at least, not without the sworn duty to inform the other.

Yet, in partaking of this solemn paradox,
on its face, making little sense,
being the nonsense
of relinquishing their long-sought,
hard-fought-and-won autonomy,
they discovered the deepest truth embraced by
(and, thus, sought to embody)
this mystery…

That in the daily ministry of yielding, each to the other,
as to Christ,
their self-sovereignty,
they encountered the greatest measure
of their individuality;
each, only through surrender,
becoming more fully one’s self.


Endnote: Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5.21)

2 thoughts on “Avowed Paradox

  1. Wow!! This is beautiful Paul!! For the past three years I’ve been learning to “uncouple” myself…. now making all the decisions having to get no one’s permission or sharing good times and bad. Being married & committed makes so many things easier…. but it takes a minute to learn how to be independent again after being “two who become one” for so long…..can’t imagine what that’s like for couples who’ve been together 50-60 years….

    Much love!


  2. Loretta, I have a goodly sense of your labors of “uncoupling.” For, o’er the years of pastoral ministry, many are the stories I’ve heard of folk when sharing with me the travails of life-after-death-of-a-spouse. Moreover, even the long-married, surely, have known and know moments – for a myriad or reasons or causes – within their marriages of separatedness, loneliness, aloneness when the experience has been more one of functioning solo than joined or in union with another.

    All this said, I pray your good and continued fortune as you chart your life’s course where’re it may lead.

    As for this post, it is based on the wedding homily I preached at the wedding of this past Saturday. Moreover, as with nearly all of my post or sermon titles, it is a double entendre (my mind seems to function that way when conjuring words). For “avowed” is a play on the action of making and stating a public commitment and, in the case of a marriage rite, “a (marital) vow.”



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