Monday, March 13, 2017

New Evangelizers Post: Have a Chestertonian Marriage

I have a new article up at  

I have to say that in the last few years I have become more and more enamored of GK Chesterton.  I have been pulled into his orbit (and given his size he has a significant gravitational pull).  My thanks to The Bishops for this introduction to him.

A few years ago, a former student invited me to lunch. He was discerning the married life and he wanted my advice as a married man. I was shy to give it. It is not because I have a bad marriage. I have an awesome marriage. I had some reluctance because as wonderful as my marriage is, I really don’t take any credit for it.

I married someone who is in every way my better.  She brought to our relationship all of the virtues that people tell us that they see in us. I have hitched my wagon to her star. So in terms of advice, there is little I can give, except maybe this:

Have a Chestertonian marriage.

GK Chesterton is a mountain among men, not only in intellect and spirituality, but in stature.  Chesterton’s writings are filled with irony, paradox, and delight.  As a young man he dabbled in  until he met Frances Blogg, whom he married in 1901.

In his letter to her in which he proposed marriage, his last paragraph began (speaking of himself in the third person) But there are four lamps of thanksgiving always before him. “  I shall now go through each of these four lamps of thanksgiving as Chesterton’s model for marriage.

“The first is for his creation out of the same earth with such a woman as you.“  

Chesterton understood his unworthiness before his wife.  My brother and I were both gymnasts, though I blush to use that term in reference to myself.  Compared to his Olympian skills, I was a sad sack of flesh and bones tossing myself across gym.  And when I look at my wife, I can hardly believe that we are made of the same stuff.  If humans are made of earth, then I must be mud and she gold.   

We must, of course, avoid an idealism that is out of contact with reality.  My wife would be the first to say that she is a woman who struggles with faults and sins like any other.  But when choosing a spouse, it should be someone who makes you better.  Or at least you can see a way that the two of you together could become better.  Frances made GK a better man, and I am sure she would say that GK made her a better woman.  But the realization of unworthiness must be placed before us.

This is not a false humility that berates the value of the self.  But it is a check against selfishness.  Perhaps you, dear reader, are made of more moral strength than those like me.  But even with my wonderful wife, I struggle against feelings of selfish desire, seeking my needs over her own.  One thing that helps keep this in check is the constant realization that she outclasses me in love and holiness and it would be shameful of me to think of her less.

“The second is that he has not, with all his faults, ‘gone after strange women.’ You cannot think how a man’s self restraint is rewarded in this.“

You can read the entire article here.

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