In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller warns against becoming “a faux spouse for someone who won’t commit to you” (215). While some relationships move too quickly, many others drag on for years with no signs of deepening or progressing toward marriage. Keller observes that some people (usually men, I’d say) are content to experience a relationship with the opposite sex that yields many of the benefits of marriage (companionship, someone to talk to, someone to bring to social functions) without any of the commitment.
Tim poignantly, and humorously, explains how this very phenomenon was occurring in his relationship with Kathy at one point.
[T]here came a time in our relationship, after we had known each other for several years, when Kathy saw that this was exactly what had happened, and so she gave what has come too be known in our family as the “pearls before swine” speech.
Though we were best friends and kindred spirits, I was still hurting from a previous relationship that had ended badly. Kathy was patient and understanding, up to a point, but the day came when she said, “Look, I can’t take this anymore. I have been expecting to be promoted from friend to girlfriend. I know you don’t mean to be saying this, but every day you don’t choose me to be more than a friend, it feels as if I’ve been weighed and found wanting–I feel it as rejection. So I just can’t keep going on the same way, hoping that someday you’ll want me to be more than a friend. I’m not calling myself a pearl, and I’m not calling you a pig, but one of the reasons Jesus told his disciples not to cast pearls before swine was because a pig can’t recognize the value of a pearl. It would seem like just a pebble. If you can’t see me as valuable to you, then I’m not going to keep throwing myself into your company, hoping and hoping. I can’t do it. The rejection that I perceive, whether you intend it or not, is just too painful.”
That’s exactly what she said. It got my attention. It sent me into a time of deep self-examination. A couple weeks later, I made the choice. (216)
Now listen, don’t do anything rash on Valentine’s Day. The emotions may be running just a bit too hot. But there is probably someone reading this blog who needs to make their “pearls before swine” speech. And just as likely there are probably more than a few folks who need to make up their minds. Think about it. If you’ve found a pearl, don’t lose it.