Marriage Preparation: Morals Lessons From George Eliots Middlemarch
by Angie Lewis 3/30/2010 / Marriage
Many of the nineteenth Century period books and masterpiece theatre movie classics give Christian people valuable moral lessons in how to conduct relationships with the opposite sex. They show many examples of what happens when we give our heart to another without any real commitment and also what happens when we rush into marriage unprepared.
When we rush something that is not ready to be rushed it establishes the wrong foundation. Getting married for the wrong reasons is one good example of this. If we marry someone because we think they are handsome, kiss good, and have a good job, the marriage will most likely be asking for trouble soon after the wedding. Let's take a look at a Masterpiece classic, Middlemarch and see what moral lessons we can uncover for conducting our relationships with the opposite sex today?
In George Eliot's Middlemarch, Rosamond, a beautiful, but immature young woman became enchanted with the young and handsome Doctor Lidgate. Her attraction for him took her away from everything else, and consequently, she gave her heart and emotions away to this man. Because of her strong desire for this man she felt it was time for her to get married. Her father however, was against the marriage from the beginning because Dr. Lidgate did not yet have an established medical practice.
Lidgate was still experimenting with new medical discoveries and money or status was not such a high priority to him as it was to Rosamond and her father knew this. Rosie's father knew his daughter loved having nice things, beautiful jewels, big London apartments, fine clothes and expensive furniture. And her father objected to the marriage. But Rosie allowed her emotions to lead her heart and did not see how incompatible she was to Lidgate. Rosie did not listen to her father's warning.
Lidgate, an aspiring doctor with lots of potential, was a respected man among the community; he often healed the poorer class of people for free, and he was not financially prepared for marriage, especially to a lady with such high society tastes as Rosamond. Rosamond also cared too much about high society appearances but Lidgate was too absorbed in his medical experiments to really care too much about the pompous upper class of England.
Lidgate was in passionate desire for this young lady and he gave away his affections to her even before a commitment was made! This was almost unheard of in this era and in the English formal society. Rumors begin flying around the circles of society about Lidgate and Rosamond's affections for each other, which was regarded as very inappropriate behavior.
Hearing all the rumors, Lidgate realized that he let his emotions get the best of him and that he was bound to Rosie because he did give away his affections. Today this would be called flirting and arousing passion in one another. Lidgate realized he had no choice but to marry Rosie or they both would bear reputations of immoral unworthiness, meaning no one else would want to marry them.
Moral Lesson: Do not arouse passion and lust in one another without commitment to marriage. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
The marriage was a disaster from the beginning because they were constantly fighting about money and status. Rosamond often demeaned Lidgate and his position as a doctor; remember now he was not making much money because his love of helping others was something he did for free. But all Rosamond cared about was looking good in society and having many nice things.
Lidgate wanted to please Rosamond and consequently they went into debt. Lidgate and Rosie's differences in values and principles were damaging the marriage considerably. In fact when the loans could not be paid off and the furniture, china, and some of the jewelry repossessed, Rosie became hysterical. Lidgate said they needed to move into a smaller, less expensive flat but Rosie behaved childish and rebellious towards her husband causing a huge rift between them. She cared more about what people will think than supporting her husband and caring about his feelings.
The marriage was wrong between the two from the beginning. This story, written by George Eliot is just one of many in that era that show us excellent principles and moral character lessons that Christians can apply into their daily life today.
Doctor Lidgate and Rosamond valued money in different ways. Rosamond allowed money to dictate her personal happiness. She was so concerned with appearances that she could not understand the ramifications of what she was doing to her marriage by ignoring her husband emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Lidgate on the other hand was only concerned about her happiness and is why they went into debt in the first place. They both rushed into marriage and did not really know the character and personalities of each other.
The point is when we allow our emotions to take the lead in our relationships we don't see the differences in beliefs, values, and principles that we may have otherwise noticed had we left our emotions in check, prayed about it and waited on God. Emotions of desires, lust and passion will cloud our vision of seeing the true character of someone, as what happened with Lidgate and Rosamond. They differed in important values that affected them in negative ways throughout the marriage.
It's important to note that in this particular story, Rosamond's father did notice that his daughter and Lidgate were incompatible and he told Rosamond to not marry Lidgate. The father had insight that Rosamond did not see. This is often true today and is why young single Christians should involve their parent(s) in their relationships and get parents blessing to continue in relationships that have a commitment to marriage. It may seem old fashioned but the principle is wise and should not be disregarded for young people today.