A young man left his common-law “wife” to party with her ex-boy friend and others while he joined his friends to party all night in another location. Arriving home drunk at dawn the next day, he discovered his partner sleeping with her ex-boyfriend. In a rage, he killed that young man and created an even bigger mess in his life. This was reported recently in the news. In my own neighborhood, a common-law arrangement broke apart, leaving the man struggling to balance caring for two young children and somehow getting time to work. For now, someone else is helping him to cope.
Common-law relationships are preferred by more couples because it lets them act and live as they desire. There is no such thing as a permanent relationship that draws on a higher authority. They are their own authority. If one partner decided that they are not receiving what they want, they can just get up and leave. In one Canadian province, the majority of couples are now “common-law”. Is it any wonder that so many children and youth are causing so much trouble with drugs, house parties, crimes, violence and destructive graffiti in our city? More of them are growing up to become irresponsible adults who run red lights, rudely speed and cut off other drivers, and contribute to excessive trash littering our streets.
The solution should start with us who profess to follow Jesus. Jesus calls us to a very uncommon relationship — relating to God out of a pure heart (Matthew 5:8). Such inward purity leads to actions of goodness and kindness even to those who may hate us (Matthew -48). In all our relationships, we are called to be holy as God is holy. To be holy is to be unique, un-common – living not as a law unto ourselves but according to the supreme law, character and authority of our gracious God (2 Peter ).
Relationships, including the marriage relationship, need to be un-common and reflecting the relationship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our children and children on our street need to see that our Christian couples truly love each other and serve each other out of reverence for Christ. Our own children have drawn a great sense of confidence, peace and a desire to live responsibly from the love they see between Sandra and I. That is the work of God — an uncommon relationship.
“Each of you must (sacrificially) love his wife…and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians )