At Theology of Dance we are not marriage counselors, but we do talk a lot about what makes a marriage good and Christian. In the tradition of the Theology of the Body romantic love between a man and woman is used to explain and understand the our relationship with God and the relationship of the Holy Trinity- the spiritual and the divine. Christian Marriage is the expression of this love. Marriage is not merely a relationship for two people to take care of each other. It's a vocation- a calling from God. It's made to be a sign of God's love, an icon of heavenly realities, even a window so others may see heaven. Because every marriage consists of a unique and unrepeated man and woman, each marriage will be unique. But because it is an icon of universal things each marriage must have certain qualities if it is to be a Christian marriage.
The Holy Trinity is one. So too is Christ and the Church. For this reason a man and woman become one in the Holy Spirit. The physical oneness of marriage is meant to be accompanied by a union of wills.
Where is the lead/follow in a marriage?
There is a best-selling book from John Gray entitled Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. He followed it up with another best seller Mars and Venus on a Date. It’s based on his research into dating and relationships between the sexes. Even though the books are written from the secular perspective I like using it for the simple reason that it corroborates most of the male-female interactions that we talk about. In fact, not merely John Gray, but most every relationship book and blog that I have read says the same thing. They say that despite our many similarities, man and woman also have their differences, and when we approach this collection of similarities and differences from the right perspective it leads to a flow blessing between the man and woman. This perspective is the Theology of the Body.
When we teach about lead/ follow in marriage at TOD we are talking about the relationship between thw bridegroom and the bride. This is the only part of the marriage we believe in which the natural role of the man is to lead and that of the woman is to follow. This romantic lead/follow is required if the couple is to be the image of Christ and the Church. This lead/ follow has the same complimentarity we see in dance.
There are many other roles, such as friendship, managing the day to day business of a marriage, raising children, or following the Lord. When it comes to friendship or managing the affairs of the home there is no established lead or follow. When it comes to raising children the parents should both lead and the chldren follow in Gods Love (more TOB!) When they form a domestic church the couple follows Christ together.
Throughout the scripture idolatry is compared to adultery; that by worshipping idols Israel was committing adultery with God. Just as the God is faithful to his chosen people and his chosen people faithful to him, so too a husband and wife are called to be romantically faithfully to each other.
Just as the Trinity is one so too is it eternal. Marriage between a man and woman is not eternal- it ends when one of them dies- but it's meant to last for life to image the eternal nature of the Trinity.
In the sameness and the differentness of being male and female we find complementarity. This complimentarity is just like the kind we find in dance. In order to live it out we need virtue and freedom.
All of life came forth from the Love of God. We are told that all things came to be through Christ, that the Father created all things through the Son. One very powerful sign of this is how the man brings Children into the world only with a through women.
Not every act of sex will conceive a child. However, every act of love is called to be a perfect as possible, and that means respecting the power God has given us to bring new people (the greatest thing in creation!) into creation.
Even though it is faithful and it is lifelong Christian marriage must also be free! These qualities are in tension with one another, but tension does not have to tear apart; it can also support. Like a dance marriage requires that the man and woman freely choose each and every moment with their entire being to love each other, that is to give themselves to each other. There is to never be any domination in a marriage; the only control is to be over one's own behavior, not one's spouse.