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René Breuel
 

Congratulations, you may now kiss yourself

God chose to assume all risks and to give of himself sacrificially, so that we may glimpse what love is.

CULTURE MAKING AUTHOR René Breuel 22 SEPTEMBER 2018 17:00 h GMT+1
Chen Wei-yih married herself. / Chen Wei-yih facebook.

Ever thought of marrying yourself? That is what a 30-year-old lady from Taipei did a few of years ago, in a public ceremony with 30 guests, three wedding dresses, two rings, three bridesmaids, three best men, a flower girl, a banquet and a honeymoon by herself in Australia.



In a Reuters article, standalone bride Chen Wei-yih asks, “Age thirty is a prime period for me. My work and experience are in good shape, but I haven’t found a partner, so what can I do?” [1]



In a sense, I feel sympathetic toward Wei-yih. For girls especially, and even more in traditional societies like Taiwan, the long transition from singleness to married life is often filled with anxiety.



Romantic relationships have become confused and amorphous, and young folks are often lost in a spectrum of possibilities that goes from hooking up, to somewhat-dating, to dating, to somewhere-more-than-dating, to living together, to getting married, to never getting married, to are we really together or what?



Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith describes the amorphous, undefined quality of many romantic relationships today, and writes that, for young people navigating this unclear social matrix, “what exactly to call different types of relationships and when to know which kind one is in at any given time seems problematic.” [2]



One can understand something of what led Wei-yih to not let herself get down for not being married by the age of 30, and to celebrate, even in an unusual way, her love for herself.



Still, even when feeling sympathetic for unfortunate cases like that of Wei-yih, we become aware of our own extreme individualism as well.



For maybe the strongest reason behind the tenuous fabric of our relationships – dating relationships that are too confused or aimless, potential relationships that never start, marriages that break up too easily – is the fact that we can commit only to one person: ourselves.



We are so focused in our individual wellbeing, and so willing to minimize any kind of risk, that we ofte keep people, even loved ones, at arm’s length.



Curiously, we can even feel strong for this weakness. As philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer defends, “he who is a complete man, a man par excellence, represents an indivisible unity, and is therefore self-sufficient”.



For Schopenhauer, the “intelligent man” should execute a whole concert by himself, like a piano and not a symphony, without depending on others. [4] To be strong is to be independent; to depend on others is a sign of weakness.



Thank God that God himself is “weaker” than us. He could have remained aloof in his own perfect world, yet He chose to commit to us, proud independents and anxious self-marriers that we are.



In Jesus’ sacrifice, he displayed the strength of vulnerability and the mightiness of exposure, and showed that, in the words of Paul, “the weakness of God is stronger than human strength”. [5]



He chose to assume all risks and to give of himself sacrificially, so that we may glimpse what love is, and love others ourselves.



When we understand this other-centered love, and marvel at how cherished we are, we can feel secure enough to commit to others, even if the moment to walk down the aisle arrives well beyond 30… or if it doesn’t arrive at all.



[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/10/22/us-taiwan-wedding-odd-idUSTRE69L3H720101022.



[2] Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 58.



[4] Arthur Schopenhauer, Consigli sulla Felicità [Advice for Happiness], ed. Claudio Lamparelli (Milano: Mondadori:2007), 58-59.



[5] I Corinthians 1:25b.


 

 


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