Can't Buy Me LoveCHARLES COLSON
Are We Becoming Marital Consumers?
She also wanted to know how men decided between “marriage versus just a girlfriend. I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY,” she said.
In response, a man who claimed to meet her financial requirements said that from his perspective, her offer was a lousy business deal. “What you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party, and I bring my money,” he wrote. “But here’s the rub: Your looks will fade and my money will” continue to grow. “So in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset.” (Ouch!)
This is why, the man explained, “It doesn’t make good business sense to ‘buy you’ (which is what you’re asking), so I’d rather lease. So a deal that makes sense [to me] is dating, not marriage. If you want to enter into some sort of lease [agreement],” he finished up, “let me know.”
Well, that was pretty harsh! But plenty of readers thought she deserved it. She was turning marriage into an economic transaction — reducing what should be a sacred relationship into nothing more than a contract — and that’s a dangerous mistake.
Economist Jennifer Roback Morse, author of the excellent book Love and Economics, puts it well. When it comes to marriage, she says, “the language of contract is . . . misleading because it undermines the basis of generosity and self-giving that is so important in married life.”
Morse is right. Contractual arrangements are a calculated effort to get what you want on the best terms you can get it. But marriage is about unreserved giving and sharing.
Contracts are limited and renewable; marriage is a permanent, life-long commitment. It is about self-sacrifice, not self-satisfaction.
The Scriptures back this up. Christians have always seen marriage as a covenant with God as a party to it. Couples are to put aside their own selfish desires and focus on the needs of the loved one. But the values of the marketplace, applied to marriage, teach a totally different message: that is, that we are entitled to a good “return on our investment.” They turn would-be brides and grooms into marital consumers, looking for the best deal they can get.
Tragically, people who think this way often end up in a kind of unholy wedlock — one in which men abandon wives the moment their looks begin to fade, and women drop husbands if they run out of money.
That so-called “classy” woman who hoped to marry money should read the Song of Solomon, chapter 8. In this chapter, a bride tells her bridegroom: “If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.”
These verses offer a beautiful glimpse of love and courtship as God intended them. They make clear that true love cannot be bought and sold — or leased, as the case may be.
When it comes to finding a mate, we should seek a faithful, faith-filled spouse whose “love is better than wine,” as Solomon put it. That is worth more than all the money — or spectacular looks — in the world.
Roberto Rivera, “You’ve Been Served,” The Point, 5 October 2007. (Comment on this “BreakPoint” radio commentary in this blog post.)
Bess Levin, “That Craigslist Ad (The One Posted by the Enterprising Young Woman),” Dealbreaker, 3 October 2007.
Jennifer Roback Morse, Love and Economics (Spence, 2001).
“The Myth of Sexual Freedom” - speech by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse given on February 26, 2004, during the Capitol Hill Lecture Series.
Jennifer Roback Morse, “The Return on Love,” BreakPoint WorldView, July/August 2003.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 050916, “Until Death — or Whatever — Do Us Part: Marriage and a Free Society.”
BreakPoint Commentary No. 040728, “Building Better Husbands: ‘The Marrying Kind’.”
Rob Vaughn, “Still in Love,” BreakPoint Online, 20 May 2003..
Charles Colson. "Can't Buy Me Love." BreakPoint Commentary October 22, 2007.
From BreakPoint ® (3/04/2007), Copyright 2000, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-0500. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint ®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries ®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.
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