This weekend, my church ran a course called “Marriage Enrichment”. While Christie and I were waiting for it to start Ashley (our lead elder) chatted to us and made a comment along the lines of “You guys are luck to have a course like this so soon in your marriage. When we got married we didn’t have this”. Its one of those statements that almost requires a response from you like “Yeah, we are.” or something similar. But really I hadn’t thought much about it and, not knowing the course material, I couldn’t honestly agree that we were lucky to have the course. But his comment did get me thinking.
You see, the course was excellent and while I hope to apply what we learned, I’m sure I’ll actually only apply 1/2 of it (if I’m lucky). At this stage in my life, I probably won’t see the fruits of what we learned and later on in life I wonder if I’ll be able to remember the course and see what good fruit it produced. I’m at the age where I don’t really know too many married couples well (who have been married for 5 or more years). So I don’t have any practical comparrisons to make… for example, I could see the benefit if I could say “WOW, now I can see why James and Sandra have been struggling”, or even if I could say “Gee, THAT explains why Christie and I don’t communicate well” or something like that. You see, I’ve only been married for a month and a half. So its giving me good pointers for the future, but I don’t know what I’ll need to apply and when in the future I’ll need to apply it. And I’m certainly not going to learn the entire course so that I can at any stage recall the “correct way to do things” and act on it. That would be both highly time consuming (of which I don’t have much left to consume) and verging on a “robotic” existence – “Keep all the rules constantly at the ready so you never make any mistakes”.
At the same time I started to think about how if we got our marriage right, had kids who grew up in the church and married someone else’s kids who had similarly “good parents”. They will have practically seen “good” husbands and wives interacting, so will they even realise the benefit of such courses, or the importance of passing on these values and lessons? If they do manage to pass the values on, will they really have a practical understanding as to just how bad it can be if these things are not in place? If we turn the tide of divorces in the country, will our future generations keep it? Or will they not learn from the mistakes of the past and be doomed to repeat them? Its all fine and well to talk about history that way – great leaders, wars, plagues, etc. But do people keep account of social trends in the same way? I guess that’s what the disciplines of sociology and anthropology are about, but does the “population in general” learn about these things?
Even in this morning’s sermon there were two examples of this. The one was Ashley talking about the relationship between David and Jonothan… He said something similar to “When David said he loved Jonothan, it wasn’t in an erotic/homosexual way… but it was merely as one would have a deep bond with someone who saved your life in many battles.” He then referred to the guys and basically said “like when you were in the army, fighting – your buddy who watched your back and protected you.” But anyone born after 1975 would not really understand that analogy – we weren’t forced into the army. We don’t practically understand that as he does, or as people from the generation before us would.
My lingering question is this: How do we pass on our values and lesson’s we’ve learned to the next generation effectively, and how do we ensure that they’re learned to the same degree and will be passed on effectively to the generation after that?