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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


While I'm on this topic of creation, there is something else that's been really on my mind lately. Marriage is, as most Christians would agree, "an institution provided by God for the benefit of mankind." Isn't that an elegant way of putting it? But what really happened back there, probably more than 2,000 years before Christ was born? What did God really "institute?" (And for what it's worth, I hate that word. It's so impersonal!) Do we today really have any clue what God intended for our marriages?

It is noteworthy that all of God's creation work was not complete until He made woman. He could have made her first. He could have made her from dust --- as he'd made every other living thing to that point. But He didn't. I find that curious. Woman is the only living being into which God breathed life that was not created from dust.

Of course we know, from Genesis 2:18, that God made woman in response to a conclusion He'd reached. "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him." Being alone and being helped are two different things. What kind of help do you suppose God thought man needed? Is it significant that this companion and helper would be created from the rib of the very man she was created to be with?

Most theologians look at the creation of woman, from what I've read, and conclude that there is significance to her means of creation. They point to this process as being God's mystical union of the couple's hearts and lives. The goal God had was to do more than give Adam a friend. In some way that we probably will strain to comprehend, God wanted to give Adam oneness. Do you suppose this is why her creation story is different than all others? Is this oneness the point?

God gave marriage as a gift to Adam and Eve. Marriage wasn't convenient and it wasn't cultural. It was intentional. Throughout the rest of the Bible we see that God had three (3) basic aspects to this marriage proposition. Let's look at those.

First, the man leaves his parents and publicly promises himself to his wife. Guys, do we get that? Have us married gents really promised ourselves to our wives? What the heck does that really mean? What is that our wife receives in such a promise? You can guess by now that I think most of us (include me) are probably missing some of this. I'm not sure I've got a good grasp on this one.

Second, the man and woman are joined together by taking responsibility for each other's welfare, love each other above all others. Well there is little chance that this is happening in most of the marriages I see. One of the things that drives me crazy about women today is that they will forsake their husbands for their children. In my work with men in ministry, I have seen more cases of emotional abuse and neglect by a woman who totally defined herself as a Mom first and foremost. In my humble opinion, ladies, this is wrong. God is not pleased or glorified in that mess. I'm not picking on women either. Men, how many of us really take responsibility for the welfare of our wives? In all aspects, do we really take responsibility for her emotional well being? If she has a strange mole or a headache or a heartache are we really all that concerned? Let's face it guys, many of us are falling short in this department.

Third, the two are united into one in the intimacy and commitment of sexual union that is reserved for marriage. Oh dear heavens! Where do we put sexuality in the media? Where do we put pornography? How about masturbation? Where do we put our own sexuality as the world has taught it to us? How many of us have actually achieved that spiritual intimacy in the committed sexual union that God intended? Based on what I hear and see, not many.

So it seems that God had these three basic tenets in mind for healthy marriages. Few would argue that healthy marriages tend to exhibit these characteristics either. (So I don't think this is open for debate. After all, it is my blog!)

But somewhere along the line our marriages veer away from this, if they ever had it in the first place. Ideally, a husband and wife will have no barriers between themselves whatsoever. Put another way, there will be nothing that one doesn't know about the other. Likewise, there should be no embarrassment in exposing themselves to each other. Transparency should feel quite natural. Somehow it doesn't though, at least for some of us. We have guilt and shame. We have secrets. We have unexpressed fears. We have unexpressed desires. We may believe that we've tried to express them and they weren't welcome. The lack of transparency in our marriages may not be our fault. Then again, it may be our responsibility.

I've worked with people who were truly victims of circumstance. Take mental illness. If you're suffering from mental illness, that's not your fault. But it is your responsibility. An unhealthy marriage partner is similar. Being married to someone who can't function in the marriage may not be your fault. But it is your responsibility (see number two above).

If our marriages are less than perfect, it is time to quit blaming, resenting, or just settling in apathy. No, it is time to get off our butts and wade into the messy reasons why we don't have the spiritual, emotional, intellectual or sexual intimacy that God intended. If we'll be willing to do that, and fight our way through it, I believe God is honored more than ever. And I believe that we will find the marriage that made God say, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him." What a perfect plan!

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