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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Husbands & Wives

It's a story that's well known in Christianity. In fact it is a story that it's so fundamental to Creation that just about everyone knows it. I'm talking about the story of Adam and Eve, earth's first couple. After God had finished His mighty construction project (i.e., making the world and everything in it), He was pleased that the project had come in on time and on under budget.

But God considered Adam, the only creation He'd made in His own image. Something was just not right. "Then Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18) After having come to this conclusion, God went through the entire inventory of everything He'd made. "... But for Adam, no suitable helper was found." (Genesis 2:20)

It's probably worth pausing right there to think about what exactly God had in mind in terms of a "suitable helper" for Adam. If you're like me, your mind automatically thinks of assistance that's appropriate (i.e., sufficient but not sleazy). Surely there would be plenty of that kind of help around. There were beasts of burden. There were dogs who could be trained and monkeys that could be taught to do most any chore Adam might have. Nevertheless, God found none of them suitable.

Ironically, when God was considering a "suitable helper" for Adam, there was no work that Adam had to do. Remember that Adam was, at the time, sinless. He lived in the Garden of Eden. There was no work to do. None of that "sweat by the brow" kind of stuff had to be contended with at the time. So what exactly was it that God thought Adam needed help with?

This is one of those questions that can't be answered straight from a specific Scripture reference. Instead, the answer must come from the context of God's Word. In other words, we have to look beyond that specific incident and see what God's heart and mind were concerning the matter. For example, how did He instruct husbands and wives to to relate to each other?

The thing is that Adam didn't need any assistance with tasks. Rather he needed something or someone to complete him in spiritual and emotional ways. It seems that God had created man with an innate need for woman. It was a spiritual need. It was an emotional need. And of course there is that sexual need. But all things considered, God wired man to be live in intimate relationship with woman.

So let's fast forward to present times. (After all, it's only a few thousand years!) Men and women go about the business of marrying each other all the time. We do it in every religion and in every culture. Sometimes there are differences (i.e., arranged marriage), but the intent is the same. It's a fundamental goal of the human race to be married. Men need to be husbands. And women needs to be wives.

But I believe this need to be married is so fundamental to who we are that maybe we overlook the higher purpose that God had in mind all along. As a man, it is not good for me to be alone. And it is God's desire that I have a "suitable helper." She's not there for sex. She's not there to have babies and raise them. She's not there to do the laundry, clean the house or cook the meals.

This wife that God created me to need? She is there, to complement me. Check the spelling of that word. The dictionary says that it means to "complete or make perfect." In this godly wife that God ordained for me, I find myself complete. I find my emotional being is complete. And of course my wife finds the same things. Without me, she is incomplete. As I am there to nurture her, to be safe for her, to help her stay balanced with a firm grip on reality. It's what husbands and wives do for each other. In this way, we are complete --- as God intended.

Husbands and wives, let's stop and consider how we relate to each other. Do we focus on how our spouse didn't meet our expectations? Did we focus on what we could or should get out of this relationship (with our spouse)? Or do we get up every morning and ask God to show us how to complement each other that day?

"Lord, I'm grateful for the spouse that you gave me. Help me to be a good steward of that opportunity, no less than the stewardship that I owe you for everything else I am and have in this life. Give us both Your perspective on things that would seek to divide us. Fill us both with your Spirit and lead our thoughts, our words and our deeds each day such that we can honor you by complementing ... completing each other. We ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen."

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