“The old ball and chain” is an idiom of many colors. Webster describes it as “something that severely restricts one’s activity usually oppressively (marriage, intended to enslave a woman), and also the fleeting idiom replaces the word wife. Steven D. Price describes it as prison. In his writing “Endangered Phrases” he writes, “Marriage was prison (albeit with privileges), wives were wardens, and husbands wore a metaphorical ball and chain, the sort that prisoners wore to prevent escaping.
Now let me ask you this question. If you would or would be proposed to, would you say that your answer would be a choice or would it be forced? Typically the answer is hardly the latter. So why would we use this phrase? How has it lasted so long? Why add such a grim perception on something that is supposed to be beautiful, exciting, and certain?
I truly believe it goes with notion of surrenderance. Do I really want to surrender? Do I really know what that means?!?! Am I willing to understand? These are common questions that are often unnoticeably asked in many Christian communities.
Let me also ask this, what is the first step or process that is incurred when you are arrested? It is typically when the suspect is asked to surrender before being apprehended!
So the crux of the situation would be why use such repugnant words regarding such an advantageous experience? I believe it may be the imprisonment of fear. If we were “arrested” in marriage, we fear the loss of choice and freedom we believe we have in being single.
To be arrested, for most, represents the loss of liberty and even an audacity of freedom. It would be the ultimate horror for me, however I realize that being arrested is not only limited to what we perceive. When you are in this life you are arrested to so many things. Things that you can’t change. You are detained genetically by your parents, no matter who you call mom or dad. You are confined, while on earth, to your body, no matter what you do to it. You are even imprisoned by the perception of others, even if you could care less. All these restrictions, and limits. Yet I feel that even after this life, the same rules will apply. The gift that God gives us is the gift of choice.
I’ve often been told that I’m so “black and white” in my perception of things. Well does the police say that an assailant is half way free to go? Does a doctor pronounce you half dead and allows you to leave the hospital? No. So with that being said, we should rid our hearts and minds of that idiom as it pertains to marriage.
In Christianity, one of the foundational analogies of our faith is that we are the bride of Christ and Jesus Christ is our groom.
What is exchanged in weddings? Vows! What is a vow? A solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment. An example of what those vows would sound like would be, “I, Bae, take you, Bae, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor (traditionally obey) you all the days of my life.”
Now don’t get it twisted. The obedience part does not allow your spouse to abuse, detain, and arrest you. No, the honor/obedience is cultivated through pure love. Love that is warranted with truth. Because I love you, I will obey my vow to only share my existence to you. Because of my love for you, I will willingly sacrifice the things that I used to have as one and share it with the knowledge that I’m forever committed to the unity in our union. Because I love you, I will not intentionally hurt you or cause you shame by cheating on you with another. I promise not to share myself to anyone else but you. Because I love you, I make a vow to be with you, in love with you, forever.
Romans 6:16 (NLT) states, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can obey God, which leads to righteous living.”
So you see if we believe fully in the, “ball and chain” as believers then we are really faced with this reality. In both lives, we will be arrested. One arrest represents death & destruction, and yet the other represents freedom and life.
If we are to be married to Christ, let’s choose to bewed Him. To make a vow and honor Him. When our engagement (salvation) was made, He bought the ring (the cross) that has been placed for us to bear. Exonerating us from the chains of slavery, fear, and failure. Seeing us for the true bride and beautiful one. Immersing us intensely with intimacy and adorning us with His love. Remember that there is always a choice. Surrender to Christ and be arrested by God’s love! ❤️