In a recent Hallmark movie, a father reveals to his daughter’s prospective fiancé that she “shines” in his presence. What a compliment! Let’s consider friendship, “co-inherence,” and marriage adding “shine” to life.
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) journaled: “Friendship with” (CS) “Lewis” (1898-1963) “compensates for much, besides giving constant pleasure and comfort has done me much good from contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual, a scholar, a poet, a philosopher and a lover, after a long pilgrimage, of our Lord.”
Tolkien fostered Lewis’s coming to love God in Christ. As youths, both lost their mothers. Soldiers in WWI, both suffered PTSD. Both were scholars. Faith in Christ gave them a deeper bond.
Such friendships expand our souls. And more. “Given the massive and enduring influence of their works, it is hard to think of a more consequential friendship in the twentieth century-a friendship that emerged from the suffering and sorrow of a world war” (Loconte).
Friend, this unusual word describes friendship and other connected relationships. If you’re not familiar with it, here we go.
“Co-inherence” is described in a play about the Inklings, a dynamic “fellowship” of authors who included Tolkien and Lewis. Dialogue below from Reed’s “Tolkien” highlights Inkling Charles Williams. Tolkien has been extolling fellowship.
WILLIAMS: “Exactly! Co-inherence. TOLKIEN: Excuse me? WILLIAMS: Sorry. A term of my own. What I'm trying to get at is this – that we're members of one another, really. LEWIS: The Communion of the Saints. WILLIAMS: Precisely. The pattern is everywhere. In families, in friendship, romantic love, the Holy Church. You see it at its highest in the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Co-Inhering one with the other, all unique, yet profoundly and eternally One. Every human life begins with an act of natural co-inherence—for what else is conception? If baptism follows birth, the newborn proceeds directly from the material co-inherence of the womb, through invocation of the Triune God, into the supernatural co-inherence of the Church.”
What a conversation!
But, Tolkien reminds us: "There is the darkness in behind things." “WILLIAMS: One might go so far as to say that the evil we see in a time like this (Note: Hitler’s forces were threatening to take the world) may be a grace, of sorts. WARNIE (Lewis’ brother): I hardly think. WILLIAMS: In the sense that what is always true now becomes visible. In our day, Nothing-But-ness climbs out of the primordial muck, stands up and shouts its craving aloud. I want it, I shall have it, says the materialist. I want her, I shall have her, says the hedonist. I want it, I shall invade it, says the Fuhrer. Milton calls out to us from a time when men knew the power of wanting but not taking. The potency of fundamental Goodness as a force in the universe – a Force which overcomes the Darkness. Self-control. Peace. Chastity.”
As Christians, impersonal “Force” rings hollow. We depend upon the Persons of the Trinity. Love predated creation. Profound! We are made in the image of the Triune – we long for healthy relationships.
In regard to the co-inherence of marriage, Jesus taught: Matthew 19:3 [Some] Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful [for a man] to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created [them] from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5and said, FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? 6"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
Biblical foundations of marriage
“What God has joined together” comes from Genesis 2:24. The Hebrew word is “dabaq” – used 54x in the Old Testament – “to cling, keep close – pursue closely – overtake.”
For ‘be joined,” our passage, Matthew 19:6 chooses Greek, “suzeugnumi” - used 2x in the New Testament (NT), both about marriage – “yoke together” – “ýn,” "identified with" + “zeúgos,” "yoke." Good!
God’s ingenious exuberance in Genesis prompts him to command creation to reproduce and fill the earth. When God bequeaths his image to man and woman, their physical union is powerful enough to create life with eternal repercussions.
Eight times “dabaq” describes cleaving to God and once clinging to his testimonies. Friend, what must we let go to cleave to God and, if married, to cling to our spouse?
Spouses, ask God, the Carpenter, to dovetail your marital joinery. What an ally!
Brokenness and marriage
Still, for a while, the world, flesh and devil conspire. “Separate” in “Let no man separate” is “chorizo” – a word used 13x in the NT- “to divide, put apart”, or middle/passive voice: “I separate myself, depart.” Xora comes from "open, vacated space.” Xōrízō means a just divorce of a marriage partner who in soul or body has vacated the marriage. Unrepentant sin slanders, dishonors, adulterates and murders our intimacy with God and one another.
Contemplate Jesus’ perception: Matthew 24:12: “Because of the increase of lawlessness the love of many will grow cold.” As I stood at Billy Graham’s grave at BGEA headquarters in Charlotte, a volunteer caretaker and I spoke deeply. Her husband of 35-years had abandoned her. His love had grown cold.
Where shall we begin again?
Paul, perhaps divorced himself, affirms: Romans 8:39 – “Nothing” (!!!) “will separate” (“chorizo”) “us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a foundation!
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us (Tim Keller,1950 -, “The Meaning of Marriage” p 101).
Christian co-inheritors of co-inherence, loved by God, let’s “shine!”
Note 1: Joseph Loconte wrote: “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe and a Great War” p xiv.
Note 2: Ron Reed wrote: “Tolkien,” post-Production Draft: June, 2018.
This is the third of six columns based on Scriptures where astonished Jesus asked elite leaders “Have you not read?” Despite their high level of education, they remained in their own shallow comfort zones. He expected them to connect what they had read in Scripture with life.
Steve Bostrom, descendant of Swedish homesteaders, husband of Via, father of eight, father-in-law of seven, and grandfather of 13, loves Helena and serves here as a pastor at large. He is ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America. To contact him, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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