Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Wedding Rings: Metal or Silicone?

Photo via Amazon.com
If you’ve ever attended a traditional wedding, you have likely seen the minister hold up the rings and explain the symbolism behind them. For example, the shape of the rings—a circle—represents the never-ending commitment between the two people. 

Sometimes, the minister will also reference the symbolism inherent in the rings’ material composition. The use of a precious metal—typically gold—signifies the purity, value and permanence of marriage. The metal has been tested by fire and purged of impurities, and marriages likewise must be kept pure as they endure many hardships. Similarly, gold does not tarnish or fade, and neither should the couple’s love toward one another. Additionally, the costliness of the ring denotes that marriage should be treated as a precious treasure and not carelessly discarded. And, finally, the strength and enduring quality of metal should symbolize the resolve and permanence that must characterize the marriage.

But does the substance of your wedding ring symbolize the substance of your marriage?
That’s the question I asked myself when I saw an online ad for silicone wedding rings, which are marketed to those who can’t or don’t want to wear traditional metal wedding rings to work or to work out because of the safety hazard. They’re perfect for the mechanic who’s afraid to get his ring caught on a piece of machinery and for the CrossFitter who wants to display her marital commitment even while hoisting a kettlebell above her head.

I assume that many of those who buy a silicone ring will only wear them temporarily and then go back to their original bands, but there are actually testimonials on the site of men proposing marriage with these rubber rings, which suggests it might be the only ring they wear. But, don’t worry, the rings only cost around $20; you can get them in all different colors to accessorize with your outfit; and instead of an endearing personalized inscription on the inside, you get the company’s logo.
Let me be clear, I’m not bashing the use of silicone rings. I understand the practical reasons for wearing such a ring, and I celebrate those who want to wear a visual symbol of their marriage at all times. After all, there’s no biblical mandate to wear a wedding ring, and the practice itself is relatively new on the timeline of human history.

I do, however, wonder if these elastic substitutes unintentionally reflect the way our culture views marriage today—cheap, flexible, temporary and disposable. While I’m sure the average couple planning their wedding these days fully expects their marriage to last, many have less hope than they let on.

I believe part of the problem for this is the romantic notions people believe about love and marriage—the kind of fairytale, star-crossed love stories found on the big screen. If you ask an engaged couple if they want their marriage to last, they will certainly say yes. If you ask them why they think it will last, you’ll probably either get blank stares or the idealistic “because we are in love.”
Those who live by this latter notion should remember that no matter how many times Captain and Tennille sang “Love Will Keep Us Together,” it proved insufficient in the end.

I prefer to follow different advice given to me in college: “You don’t fall in love; you fall in ditches. You choose to love. Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.”

If we want marriages that will last, we must take the vows “for better or worse … ‘til death do we part” seriously. This sometimes means standing by your commitment even when you don’t feel like it. Those who enter marriage with the mindset that divorce is not an option have a much better chance of seeing it through to the end.

Enduring love requires commitment, sacrifice and the grace of God. God demonstrated the ultimate expression of this love through sending his Son (Romans 5:8), and Paul points to this as the model for marital love (Eph. 5:22-33). It’s only by God’s grace and through his help that we can give and receive this enduring love.

Marriages that depend on warm feelings to carry them through have the shelf life of a silicone ring. Marriages that depend on God and practice Christlike commitment and love experience the golden joy of endurance.