“The Armor of Worth”

~ Excerpt from The Mystery of Marriage, by Mike Mason

“It is not intimacy itself, therefore, which is so distasteful and intimidating to the world but rather the moral condemnation that comes with it. People crave closeness with one another, but are repelled by the sin that such closeness inevitably uncovers in themselves: the selfish motives that are unmasked, the pettiness that spills out, the monstrous new image of self that emerges as it struggles so pitifully to have its own way.

Of course, only God can give people the strange desire to know the whole truth about themselves, and the strength and courage to live wide-open, exposed lives before one another. And how does He do it? How does He slip us this bitter pill, coated with intense desire and determination? Fortunately, the pill is also lavishly coated with the mystery we call love, which is the only thing in heaven or on earth which can shield us from the horror of knowing what we are really like. That, in fact, is what God’s love is: it is His armor, an armor of forgiveness and acceptance that we put on over our corruption, an armor of worth or worthiness that completely covers our own worthlessness. God’s love is, in a sense, the courage to go on living in the face of our sin, in the full knowledge of who and what we are. This intolerable knowledge of self must, indeed, be exchanged for knowledge of the Lord, and supremely for the knowledge of His saving power through the love of His Son Jesus Christ. That is what it means to “put on” Christ: it is to assume His strength and purity and goodness, recognizing that we have none of our own. Such an actual transfusion of character is possible only in the depths of loving intimacy with God in Christ.

And so it is in marriage that when the Lord draws a man and a woman together in the most intimate of human associations, He does so by giving them His love, which is all that can shield them through the searing experience of self-revelation they are to undergo. This is an experience that all people both crave and fear, with a fear that is conquerable only by love. Only love can drive out the constant threat of condemnation and rejection that otherwise haunts and spoils all experiences of intimacy. People cannot seem to refrain from judging one another, and in the crucible of marriage the judgment can be so intense and oppressive that the only recourse is a loving forgiveness of the other’s wrongs, and in turn a courageous willingness to see one’s own sinfulness exposed, conquered, and actually replaced by the other’s love. In such a relationship, a true transfusion and transformation of characters may take place as each puts on the good qualities of the other and forgives the bad. Each is armor to the other, each is the other’s strength and worth.”

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