By Elizabeth Prata
I love all things Italian. My father’s side of the family came from Italy. I have a fascination with the Roman empire because of its monumental achievements. Who wouldn’t be amazed at the discipline of the Roman legion? The straight and paved Roman roads? The soaring aqueducts, bridges, and buildings? The breakwaters?
Wait, wut? The breakwaters?
Yes, perhaps the most amazing achievement of all. Astonishing because they have lasted for 2000 years, and, modern engineers can’t figure out how.
It was only recently that scientists and archaeologists discovered why the marine breakwaters and piers last so long when our own modern ones crumble in the salty seawater after a few decades. That had been a mystery for centuries. Now, the organization How Stuff Works reports in the Science section,
Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered that as seawater filters through piers and breakwaters made of age-old Roman concrete, the structures actually become increasingly stronger because of the growth of interlocking minerals — including some minerals that are rare or expensive to cultivate in lab settings. The new study, published in the journal American Mineralogist, found that as seawater percolates through the concrete in the piers and breakwaters, it dissolves parts of the volcanic ash that was used in construction. This allows new minerals like Al-tobermorite and phillipsite to grow from the leached fluids. These minerals, similar in shape to the crystals in volcanic rocks, then formed interlocking plates in gaps within the ancient concrete, making the concrete stronger over time. This is pretty much the opposite of what happens to modern concrete structures, which are worn down by the elements and become increasingly cracked and brittle as pores and gaps are compromised by infiltrating seawater. (Source)
How fascinating! They recently discovered why the concrete gets stronger in seawater, but we can’t replicate the recipe. Researchers are combing ancient documents but can’t find it. Scientists are trying to reproduce the minerals in the lab, but nothing has worked.
All they know is, once the concrete is in the seawater, the seawater sparks a reaction where minerals grow inside the concrete and it makes the concrete stronger rather than weaker.
This reminded me of marriage.
When two opposite gender people come together in holy matrimony, two people become one flesh. Think about that. One flesh. If you’ve ever seen one of those pictures where the tree absorbed and grew around he wrought iron fence or the chain, the two different objects morphing into one, you know how it should be with marriage.
As two bodies merge, they become one. The flesh of a woman and the flesh of a man, joined in holy matrimony into one. That is why divorce is so painful. It’s not like having a fight with your best friend and you part ways. Divorce is a violent act because it’s a ripping apart of flesh that has been joined into one.
If a marriage under God is growing the way God intends it, the marriage should be like Roman Concrete. Living minerals growing and interlocking and making the unit stronger as time goes on. The unit being eventually impervious to the damaging material swirling around the marriage, trying to weaken it.
The word of God and continual progress in sanctification is the Roman concrete that should support the marriage and make it stronger. The couple continually submits, the wife to the husband and the husband to Christ (and the wife, too, of course). Giving grace, covering sin, patience, obedience to Jesus, prayer, and all the verses that advise us in marriage. (Ephesians 5:22-33).
There was a comment on Twitter from a wife that I’d read this week. “I remember you! You’re the one who loves her husband!-“-dental assistant just now.”
Do you speak highly of your husband to your husband? Do you speak highly of him to others? Do you pray for him? Help him in ways he says needs help, not just ways you think he need it? Serve him gladly?
I know these things are not always easy to do! But it’s important to create a home where the interlocking minerals make the unit grow stronger, where when the turbulent waters swirl against it, as the scientist said of the Roman pier, there are “intriguingly complex sequences of crystallization at the micron scale.” That’s the Holy Spirit, if you’re still with me for the metaphor.
The team found that when seawater seeps into the concrete, it dissolves the lime inside. Normally, this kind of corrosion would destroy modern concrete in a matter of years, but it actually strengthens the Roman stuff by allowing crystals of Al-tobermorite and phillipsite to grow, plugging the holes." (Source)
A secular marriage, or one in Christ that marginalizes Him instead of centralizes him in the marriage, are like modern breakwaters and piers, because “…what happens to modern concrete structures, which are worn down by the elements and become increasingly cracked and brittle as pores and gaps are compromised by infiltrating seawater.” The infiltrating seawater is the world, trying to get in with its corrosive properties, to weaken the unit that is supposed to be a bulwark in the world, a breakwater, a unit that demonstrates the power of Christ and stands against what comes.
Pray that your marriage is like Roman concrete. Solid, enduring, closing the gaps day by day, and getting stronger over time.