During the 38 years of our marriage so far, we have owned two homes. We have also lived in two apartments, and in a church parsonage for 30 years. We bought our first house when we were expecting our first daughter Lindsey and now, after my retirement from the church, we are buying our second house. We are in the process of moving, something that I am happy that we have only done rarely. One of our daughters asked me how I like our new house. I replied that I like it but, even if I did not, I would catch love for it just by being with my wife and seeing her enthusiasm, her gushing passion, and her detailed planning for the house and our involvement in the community. (It is also appropriate to talk about catching something at the new house because I got poison ivy for the second time in my life from working in the yard!)
The best way to describe it is that my wife is nesting—she is creating our new home. We had seen several houses but when we came to this one, she told the real estate agent that this was the house. She sensed that God was telling us to move here. Later, she cried in the car because we had found our house. We made sure to bid above the asking price, and we got the house. From that moment, she has been calling people to make all the appointments that we needed before we moved in and purchasing all those items that will make this our home for as long as God will keep us on this earth.
In the meantime, I was concerned about where my home office will be, how many bookcases I can put in there, how many days I will travel to my seminary office each week, which local airport is best, and what trips I can take in the near future. All the conferences and conventions that I would traditionally attend were online last year and this year, and I delivered all of my seminars and lectures online. Many churches are open, but members are still cautious about inviting guest speakers.
While romantic, married love was a reality in the Middle Ages, the focus was on monastic love, and it was preferred for both men and women. Romantic or marital love was regarded as secondary. Abelard was a monk who fell in love with a young woman named Heloise. While they are admired by some as a romantic, rebellious couple, he ultimately returned to monastic orders, she became a nun, and they gave their child to the nuns at a different convent to raise.
Martin Luther was the first one to write passionately about his love for his wife, Katerina von Bora. He acknowledged that without her, he would not have been able to do what he did during the Reformation. She was his rock, his encourager, and the administrator of their household and the in-house seminars that he often held. In fact, he called her My Lord Katie. It was out of the respect and love that he had for his wife that he advised wives to create homes that their husbands would be sorry to leave, where husbands would constantly think about the joy they would have when they returned to their wives and children. Philip Melanchthon, considered the most important theologian of the Lutheran branch of the Reformation, married Katharina Krapp and the two of them imitated the Luthers and created a home that was filled with joy, where romantic love was displayed between husband and wife. Students would write about modeling their relationships and homes after these two couples.
When I was in college and seminary I would periodically go home and spend my time visiting friends and doing all sorts of activities. My mother would insist that I give her some undivided time, so she could find out what was going on with my life. During one visit, that mother-son time was from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM the day before I was supposed to return to school. My mother said, “The problem with you George, is that you are so much in love with your suitcase. You love to travel, you love to see things, and even when you are home, you are not completely at home!”
I think that my mother knew me pretty well, but I also think I have changed since then. My wife has built a home where I am sad to leave and so glad to come back. I rarely add extra days to my travels anymore. I go, I enjoy doing what I do, but I hurry to come home because it is the place that I like to be more than any other. And to a great degree, even to all the degrees, this is because my wife has created such a beautiful home for me and for all of our children. Thus, I celebrate with Proverbs 18:22 and Proverbs 31:28-31: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” and “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”