God brought Bev and me together, taught us about love, and gave us 42 years before taking her home. Was our marriage heaven on earth? No. We had our fair share of disappointments and difference. But, we were instructed by the Word, led by the Spirit, and found grace to become the best of friends and inseparable partners. Contemporary American culture is confused in many areas but none more than understanding what God intends in the establishment of marriage.
Sin has so marred our grasp of love that it is next to impossible for us to accept what God says about forming a life-long partnership with another. We have entangled lust with love. Sexuality has become a kind of god and, in that disordered place, skews our sense of identity.
Here are the first words in the Word about this. “But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:20 NIV)
We need to read those words with Spirit-opened eyes. The truth here is about man and woman before sin messed it all up, before power became an issue, before exploitation was a factor. And, it is beautiful!
From inspired Word we learn that marriage is a natural and desirable state. (Just to be clear, no one is less because they are single! If that is the choice and/or calling of an individual, we should honor that decision.) There are so many who refuse marriage or enter into it with all kinds of clauses and reservations because they do not understand that kind of selfless love, inspired by God, that makes a true marriage. Eve was the creation of God to be Adam’s complement. (And, he was hers.) Marriage is not just about legalizing sex or making children. It is a state where the individual can find a completely new way of being; the ‘me’ eclipsed by the ‘we.’
Adam’s delight in Eve is obvious. To cheapen his response to her, as is often done, as merely a leering, lustful thing is a terrible abuse of the text. He saw, in her, the same essence, the ‘bone of my bone,’ that would allow a whole new kind of existence for both of them. They would be ‘one flesh.’ Does that allude to the sexual union? It does, and so much more. God created the possibility of man and woman joining together in a new way that redefines both of them. It is the essence of holy marriage and increasingly rare in our culture where we defend our individuality so strenuously, where we fear surrender of ourselves to another so much as to make true marriage of mutual benefit just about impossible.
I love that phrase “they felt no shame.” There was no concealing of themselves, no reluctance to share every part of themselves.
There is a great need in our time to recover a sound understanding of sacred marriage. God does not just invite us to form a contract with another. He invites us to become one in covenant before Him. It is not a ‘law’ thing, it is a love matter, shaped by the example of His love for us. Paul is explicit about that in the 5th chapter of his letter to the Ephesians where he weaves the narrative of the relationship of husband and wife around the sacrificial love of Jesus for His Bride, the Church.
- Do you love your spouse in a God-honoring way?
- Is Christ invited to teach you about entering into a selfless love that serves?
- Do you protect that relationship with prayer, seeking the enablement of the Spirit to become a true ‘one flesh’ couple?
Marriage can be hell on earth when it is about being first, about protecting our individual rights. It can be the most enriching experience where there is a mutual love of Jesus, where growing is ongoing, where the love of Christ teaches love for each other. God teach us of holy matrimony, allowing us to model the kind of intimacy and love that reveals You in us. Amen.
Here is a word from the Word. “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality.” (1 John 3:18-19, The Message)