Lovers must not, like usurers,* live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community.
If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things.
They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own.
It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is.
These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them.
Lovers, then, “die” into their union with one another, as a soul “dies” into its union with God.
And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving.
If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing.
– Wendell Berry
1 a person who lends money at unreasonably high rates of interest.