Soldiering On – Part 2

How do you soldier on in a long-term relationship…

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…especially when war separates you?

First, an admission. Throughout this K-drama I wondered if I had anything to contribute in the event of a war breaking out or even in a major emergency. I am neither a soldier nor a doctor so I can’t protect or save lives.

Then I cheered myself up because, you know, I am a very good administrator so there might well be a job for me. Actually I am good cook too and everyone knows you can’t battle on an empty stomach.

There are big wars that separate people and then there are smaller battles which are no less disruptive, maybe even more so. This is the dilemma facing the second couple in Descendants of the Sun.

Sergeant Major Seo Dae Young is right-hand man, brother-in-arms and best friend to Captain Yoo Si Jin.


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First Lieutenant Yoon Myung Ju is an army surgeon. Her father Lieutenant-General Yoon has made it clear that his preferred son-in-law is Captain Yoo. He goes all out to prevent Myung Ju and Dae Young from serving in the same unit or from being deployed to the same combat zone.


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The problem is, Myung Ju and Dae Young are in love with each other. Desperately in love. Dad just gets in the way.

I do admire Myung Ju as she sees things very clearly. She tells her dad in no uncertain terms to butt out of her relationship with Dae Young. For many Asian parents this will be unacceptable but there is a lot of sensibility behind this stance.

Tim Keller in Chapter Four of his thoughtful and accessible book The Meaning of Marriage* (co-written with his wife Kathy) asks what is marriage for and then states that marriage is first and foremost a friendship. God said that it is not good that man should be alone after professing seven times, when he considered everything he had thus far created, that it was good (Genesis 1-2).

I think it is a generous God who allows us a ‘vertical’ relationship with him without denying us the opportunity of other bonds that enrich and enhance our lives:

God designed us to need ‘horizontal’ relationships with other human beings. That is why even in paradise, loneliness was a terrible thing. We should therefore not be surprised to find that all the money, comforts, and pleasures in the world – our efforts to re-create a paradise for ourselves – are unable to fulfill us like love can.**

How do you soldier on in a long-term relationship or marriage? To see love in action, couples as friends and marriage as the embodiment of every good thing God wants for us, you can watch 16 hours of the drama, read Tim Keller’s book* or for a 30-minute distillation you can listen to Hugh Palmer’s sermon on Matthew 19 v 1-12. Hugh is the Rector of All Souls Church Langham Place and in the years I have listened to his sermons, this must surely count as one of his finest.


* The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller, published by Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 978-1444702163

** from page 111 of the book

There is a killer soundtrack accompanying the series which can be obtained (if you do not live in South Korea) from Catchopcd.