Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
(Romans 7:1-12 ESV)
My first marriage was an unhealthy one. It was to a man named Husband Law. True Lover saw the predicament we were in and mourned. But he waited patiently, stood by me through all of Husband Law’s violence and demands, and gently encouraged me at every turn so that I might know, in spite of the abuse I was receiving, I was loved.
The dysfunction of my relationship with Husband Law ran deep. His inflexibility and ruthless nature were toxic to me, but I didn’t know it. I thought I needed “structure” in my life. But Husband Law began to tell me everything in terms of what I must not do. He was so fearful I would wander, for example, that Husband Law repeatedly said, “Do not wander.” And so it made me want to wander all the more. When I did the very thing he himself had planted in me to do, he punished me upon my return from wandering. The worst of it was that the children I bore him all looked exactly like him. So, whether I looked at Husband Law or Offspring of Law my error and bondage were forever highlighted to me.
In order to be free to marry another and yet not break the law of Love doing it, I knew obsessive husband Law had to die. I simply wasn’t strong enough to kill him myself. When Husband Law finally lunged at me to kill me, True Lover interposed his body between Husband Law and me. And so, it seemed to me, all was lost. True Lover was dead by the hand of my cruel husband. Now there would be none to defend me.
I will never understand why or how, but something about the purity of True Lover’s completely non-violent offering – taking the knife Husband Law had meant for me – was more than Husband Law could stand. That very night Husband Law died. Whether it was suicide or whether he died of natural causes, I’ll never know. But when I awoke, there was True Lover, alive again, restored to complete health, and waiting patiently as before!
I was now free to marry again if I liked. When True Lover offered his body the next time, it was to consummate our relationship, the first really healthy love I had ever known.