January 25, 2009

"The Christian Lover"

In his new book The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers, Michael Haykin says that "reading expressions of love from the past can be a helpful way of responding to the frangibility (brokenness, fragile quality) of Christian marriage in our day." In this book, the author offers a collection, a small anthology, of letters from husbands to wives and wives to husbands--letters that share the beauty of the gift that is marriage. The following are just a few sweet excerpts:

A brief portion of quite a lengthy letter from John Broadus to his wife Lottie:

Lottie, won't you love me too--don't you? Won't you pour all the wealth of your woman's love, undoubting, without any reserve, into my bosom, and let it flood my soul with sweetness? Won't you unlock every recess of your heart, and let all its affections rush forth in one rich, full tide of love? Won't you forgive [me] if I have sometimes been exacting, apparently neglectful--won't you forget that you have ever yielded to one moment's skepticism about my love--won't you just surrender your whole heart to trustful and joyful affection for your lover and your husband?

Another wonderfully surprising excerpt which shows such a sweet side of Martyn Lloyd-Jones as he wrote to his wife Bethan:

My Dear Bethan,

Thank you for your letter of this morning, though I am very angry that you should have been up till 11.30 p.m. writing it! I see that you are quite incorrigible! The idea that I shall become used to being without you is really funny. I could speak for a long time on the subject. As I have told you many, many times, the passing of the years does nothing but deepen and intensify my love for you. When I think of those days in London in 1925 and '26, when I thought that no greater love was possible, I could laugh.

But honestly, during this last year I had come to believe that it was not possible for a man to love his wife more than I loved you. And yet I see that there is no end to love, and that it is still true that "absence makes the heart grow fonder." I am quite certain that there is no lover, anywhere, writing to his girl who is quite as mad about her as I am. Well, I had better put a curb on things or I shall spend the night writing to you without a word of news.

The letters of Helmuth von Moltke to his wife Freya give an interesting glimpse of a man's reflections upon life and marriage as he prepares for death--how he may stir his wife's heart with the blessed good news of the gospel. It shows, as well, a man who perceived his wife as a great gift from God:

"And now my dear, I come to you. I have not included you in my list because you, my dear, stand in a totally different position from all the others. You are not one of God's agents to make me what I am, rather you are myself. You are my thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Without this chapter no human being is truly human. Without you I would have accepted love. . . . But without you, my dear, I would not have "had" love. I should not think of saying that I love you; that would be quite false. Rather you are the one part of me, which would be lacking if I was alone. . . . It is only in our union--you and I--that we form a complete human being. . . . And that is why, my dear, I am quite certain that you will never lose me on this earth--no, not for a moment. And this fact it was given us to symbolize finally through our common participation in the Holy Communion, that celebration which was my last."

1 comment:

Mel said...

These letters are so beautiful, I can't wait to read them to my husband! Language is such a powerful tool for expression and healing.

We watched the movie "Fireproof" last night, and my husband, tender-hearted soul that he is, cried through the last 3rd of the movie. He was laying on his side, and the shoulder of his T-shirt was drenched. It was heartwarming. :)