Every so often, and not nearly often enough, I am struck with how far from the mind of Christ my sinful heart actually is. A kind woman from my church had a bunch of girls over to eat chocolate and watch this four hour British rendition of the classic Charlotte Bronte novel. Jane Eyre is my new favorite movie. (Warning: If you ever want to see Jane Eyre, or read it, and still be surprised, do not read this post. It might ruin it for you.) Like many love stories of the like the viewer is taken through many ups and downs before the final resolve in which the young couple is finally brought together. The only glitch in the story was that Jane and Edward cannot be married because he is still married, to a wife who is literally insane.
But I found myself internally saying “just divorce the crazy lady.” Throughout the entire movie I was cheering them, and then scoffed in disgust when Jane refused to be with a married man, despite her feelings. In my faulty logic it seemed only natural that this crazy woman should be abandoned for the sake of Jane and Edward’s budding relationship. After all, they were in-love. What was most troubling to me was not just the fact that I cried “divorce” in the name of love, but that I didn’t even feel convicted about it until over a week later.
We live in a divorce culture. And sadly, I am deeply affected by it. My problem in watching the movie was that I wanted Jane and Edward together no matter the cost, even if it meant breaking a covenant made before God. Unfortunately we, even Christians, live in a culture that seeks to preserve happiness and instant gratification rather than a holy covenant. It is no secret that the divorce rate in our churches is similar to the divorce rate of our unsaved neighborhood. Divorce is everywhere, and it is normalized.
Jesus said, “what God has joined together let no man separate.” God does the joining, and he does the separating too. The court system, divorce attorneys, and unhappy spouses are wrongly taking the place of the sovereign God when they freely offer divorce for such reasons as “irreconcilable differences.” My problem when I watched Jane Eyre was that I had a worldly view of both God and marriage. And even though I talk often about the importance of upholding marriage, this incident made me see that I still have a long way to go before my sinful, distorted views of happiness are really sanctified. How many times do we not even realize our sinful views of marriage, and the world in general, because we are so much in the world that we can’t recognize truth from error anymore? This is a scary thought.
Living as a Christian in this world means that I need a lot more grace, and a lot more discernment, in order to recognize where I have been indoctrinated wrongly. A recovery of the sanctity of marriage must begin not with legislation, but with Christians, like me, not secretly wishing that a movie marriage would dissolve so my favorite characters would be happy. There is far more at stake than whether or not fictional people are united in matrimony. The Gospel is at stake in marriage. When a man abandons his wife because he loves someone else, we are preaching to the world that we have a Christ who will abandon us if he falls in love with another—and that never happens.
In the end Jane does marry Edward, but not because he abandoned his wife. I wonder if the story would have been as meaningful if they rode off into the sunset while his wife languished in his abandoned castle. Probably not. But it won’t be the last time I am faced with a movie of this nature. And maybe next time the red flag of conviction will penetrate my sinful heart immediately, and not seven days later.