Satan

The Marriage Triangle: The One-Flesh Triangle

In Part 1, I explained how our marriage experienced trouble when we tried to fit into the template called, ‘the marriage triangle’.  That instead of simplifying marriage concepts, it had made it more confusing.

What we discovered was that the triangle paradigm is more realistically suited to all other relationships within the body of Christ, except the marriage.  So it’s better named, A Family Triangle:

Within every one of our relationships with other Christians, there are three separate interchanges going on:  1-Darrell has his own relationship with God.  2-I have my own relationship with God.  3-And then there’s Darrell and I, as brother and sister in Christ.

It’s relationship #3 that defines this as a Family Triangle instead of a Marriage Triangle, it could be with Darrell or any other brother or sister in Christ whether they are friends, neighbours, co-workers, cousins, etc.

When the triangle supports all other relationships, it can’t also express the one-flesh in marriage.  The one relationship that’s not interchangeable with any other:  The Covenant

The marriage covenant anchors

The Bible leaves no doubt that the Trinity is three in one,  Father, Son, and Spirit.  Within the Trinity, there’s a rich symbolism for marriage – a supernatural blending of multiples into a single:  God is three in One – marriage is two becoming one.

In marriage, people are not separated into 3 different relationships like in a Family Triangle – they’re joined.  God invites us to covenant with Him because He knows we’ll need His help to make it work.  We cannot become a thriving one-flesh relationship without His help because it’s a supernatural relationship.

The covenant holds us together as God begins the process of infusing two earthly people into a single unit:  One-Flesh, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)

If you’ve anchored your marriage to God by His covenant, it begins and ends with Him.  He created it in the beginning, it’s His idea, it belongs to Him.  He doesn’t join your marriage … you join His marriage.

I think we forget how real that covenant is because we can’t see it.  Unlike the visible rituals of buying the government license at city hall and signing the certificate of marriage at the church, the covenant we make with God – even though unseen – is the real deal. As such, it has far more gravity.

I agreed to covenant with God in marriage through my role as a wife.  I made an agreement with Darrell too, but it’s a contract with another human, a natural being.  God’s covenant is super-natural and supersedes an earthly marriage contract.

At a glance, The One-Flesh Triangle makes the invisible visible and, if we’ve let God anchor us, we’re reminded of that gravity.  At that instant, when we need it the most – in the heat of conflict, frustration, hurt, anger (and sometimes even hate) … it can reset our hearts and minds back to what matters most:  not me, not Darrell – But God. His covenant matters most.

There are ups and downs in every marriage; some have more ups than downs and some go down further than others, but we all need a strategy to remind us of the purposes of marriage.  In the good times in marriage, no one needs a prompt.  But in the hard times, when our wedding day feels like a lifetime in the past … when marriage gets painful and it reaches that breaking point – when we start to think, “This is too hard,” the questions we needed to ask are, will I lean on my own strength or wait for God’s?  Am I going to put the human contract above my covenant with Him?  What’s more important?

SOUL-utions

  • Understand that your marriage is a completely different breed of relationship than all others found on earth; it can’t be treated the same.
  • Accept that your marriage is under tremendous strain from Satan. His main goal, since the day you got married, is to unravel your marriage by coming between the two of you so you’re separated.  He’s the ultimate predator and wants you alone – out of your one-flesh strength.
  • Believe in the realness of your covenant with God.  Trust Him with His own idea of marriage; trust Him with the role He assigned you as a wife.  Let this visual be a trigger to jolt you out of any emotions of hurt, back to the facts.

 

 

Beware of the Marriage Cannibals

What do you call it when someone turns against the team?  Sometimes we say they’re a traitor, deserter, or even hypocrite.  In medicine, it’s called autoimmunity:  an immune response caused by systemic inflammation that leads your body to attack itself.

What about in marriage, when one spouse turns on the other and begins attacking the team?

In Galatians, Paul uses some graphic imagery to make an emphatic point:  Tearing at each other by biting and devouring has the same effect, relationally, as cannibalism:  Consuming one of your own.

If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? (5:15)

When a spouse does this, they’re cannibalizing their own marriage.

What does it look like to bite and devour — have I been cannibalizing my own marriage?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:19-21, emphasis added)

Wow, wow, wow – if we can get a visual of just how dangerous it is to live out of our flesh instead of our spirit, we’ll be able to see how much real damage we can do to our husbands, to ourselves, and to The Kingdom –it can change our hearts.

Marriage Cannibal:  it’s a choice 

No one is a cannibal on their wedding day. In fact, we’re the opposite of a marriage cannibal on that day!  This change happens after the wedding and is triggered by who we listen to.

Marriage cannibals want you to expose all your husband’s mistakes, misdemeanors, and missteps.  They tell you how right you are and how you deserve better.  How unfair your circumstances are.  All the while inching you closer to your flesh instead of The Spirit.

Is it intentional?  Sometimes it is – sometimes women are so hurt over their own failed marriage(s) they can’t get beyond their own bitterness. They end up destroying any other marriage they come in contact with –misery loves company.  And then there are some unwittingly used by Satan:

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,  always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim 3:6)

… and they end up being out for themselves.  They feel justified as they feed on the misery that you’re serving up from your marriage.  They do this under the guise of helping and encouraging your situation, all the while sharpening your focus on the faults of your man.  Their motive isn’t really solution-oriented, it just feels like it is because they’re giving you center stage of attention.

It doesn’t matter if the split for the responsibility of the conflict is 95% your fault and 5% your husband’s.  A marriage cannibal will talk you away from any responsibility you have while simultaneously narrowing your focus on that 5% of his.  Blame’s the name of the game.

The first marriage cannibal was Satan

He uses the same technique today that he used in the garden:  Creating doubt through a perceived sense of lack.  He wasn’t after Eve, he merely used a weakness of hers to reach his real target, Adam – divide then conquer.

Any advice or counsel that focuses on the faults of your man instead of the power of Christ’s grace, is underpinned by Satan’s methods.  You’ll know them because they’ll appeal to your flesh – just like they did with Eve.

DIVIDED:  Satan used a lie to shift Eve’s focus away from God’s truth so she’d doubt Adam, You won’t die!  Then, as a liar does, he spins it bigger, God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.

AND:  Eve doubts, The woman was convinced.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  Then she gave some to her husband.

CONQUERED:  Adam yields, and he ate it, too.  At that moment their eyes were opened.

Satan achieved a “twofer” here:

  • Division between husband and wife (Genesis 3:16)
  • Division from God (Genesis 3:24)

Cannibalism of marriage: the movement

A true saying is that, it takes two to tango.  It takes two to make the marriage work and two to break it down – but it only takes one to initiate divorce1.  In the past, when it was just our husbands that had the freedom to initiate divorce, the divorce rates2  were low.  However, when us wives got that same freedom, divorce rates skyrocketed3.

Unfortunately, it’s women that are leading the destruction of families – not men. (2 Tim 3:6-7)

When you listen to a marriage cannibal, you’ll end up distrusting God’s:

  1. Son (Hebrews 1:2)
  2. Message in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16)
  3. Power (Romans 4:17)
  4. Timing, and (2 Peter 3:8-9)
  5. Ability (Luke 1:37)

And you’ll believe that:

  1. The grace you’ve received from God through Christ is sufficient for your sin, but not for your husband’s. (Romans 3:21-26)
  2. The circumstances in your marriage are the exception and make your marriage harder than anyone else has ever experienced. So, therefore, you get a special dispensation of grace. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12)
  3. Your husband’s problems are not fixable, even by the Creator of the universe. (Ephesians 3:20)
  4. Your sins are smaller than his, and God doesn’t have as much work to do in you as He does in your husband – he’s holding you back from a good life and you want to be happy now. (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11)
  5. Your life will be better without your husband. You have to depend on your own ability to make that happen instead of waiting for God to make it happen. (Isaiah 43:19)

SOUL-utions

  • We all need to talk to people about problems in our marriage from time to time. Choose wisely – choose one person.  Choose as a last resort.  Don’t choose a person as a replacement of the Holy Spirit, and if the advice doesn’t lead you to give the grace of Jesus Christ, choose someone else.
  • God tells us to test fruit and He encourages us to test Him. Check the source – what does her own marriage look like?  Examine the fruit in her marriage, she must be able to back it up with real experience.  If she doesn’t have fruit yet or the fruit is suspect, choose someone else.
  • After you’re done talking to her, do you hate your husband more? Or, love him more (or at the very least, hate him a little less)?  Have they thrown gas on the sparks so your anger and self-pity are escalating to a consuming fire that needs to be fed?  Or, have they helped you diminish the sparks by sprinkling the water of grace on them?  If not, choose someone else.

 

 

 


NOTES

  1. initiate divorce:  “… 70-75% of divorces were initiated by women […] and is a rising trend.” –Michelle Langley (Incidentally, her research is part of why and when I started following trends and information about marriage)  Her book is called, Women’s Infidelity, and was published in 2005.
  2. divorce rates:  according to the National Center for Health, 50% of marriages in the United States now end in divorce with 80 percent of the initiation filed by women.
  3. divorce rates skyrocketed:  “#25. Wives are the ones who most often file for divorce at 66% on average.” That figure has soared to nearly 75 percent in some years.

 

 

 

Love covers

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… love covers  (1 Peter 4:8)

… He clothed them (Gen 3:21)

… they covered him  (Gen 9:23)

One of the things I love about God is that He never just says, Do this rule.  He always demonstrates a clear model to follow. To me, He is the forerunner of what it means to cover an offense with love.

HIDING SIN?

God was the first to sacrifice in the name of love in order to cover the sin of another.  He loved all His creation yet He sacrificed His own creatures so He could cover Adam and Eve’s offence.  It must have been hard, but that’s what love does.

And who was He hiding their sin from?  Obviously not Himself, maybe Satan?  Although Satan was aware of getting them to disobey God, I’m not sure he understood the full ramifications of what he had just set in motion, but that’s another post.  Perhaps it was from Adam and Eve themselves?

It wasn’t to “hide” in a fearful deceptive way, like Adam and Eve did with the leaves right after they disobeyed.  There is nothing anyone can hide from God, He knows all, is all, sees all.  But when God covered them, that was something completely different, it was done with a pure heart.  It was done for them.

Covering is for love

After Noah and the gang disembarked and were safely moving on with their lives on dry land, there was cause for celebration for sure!  Having come from a long line of weekend-warrior alcoholics, I know what a blindingly drunk party looks like and the numbing affect it has on the senses.

I don’t think it was a one-time event in Noah’s life; he was a drinker.  That’s how his two older sons knew immediately what to do when the youngest son was disrespectful.  Shem and Japheth showed love for Noah by covering him when he was unable, to do it himself, because of sin.

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It wasn’t so much about modesty as it was about demonstrating love through respecting their father.  Ham choose to expose the sin; he chose wrong.

Love covered my sin

Sometimes, sadly, our first response isn’t to reciprocate what God did for us — what Jesus did for us — what Shem and Japheth did for Noah:  To cover.  Too often we’re like Ham, we want to point out the sin and expose it.

It’s not that we don’t need help.  On occasion, marriage is hard and sometimes we do need a voice of reason.  But if we are intellectually honest with ourselves, not in most cases.  In most cases, it’s a matter of, I don’t think you’re doing it right; my way is right, you’re wrong.  You need to change.

Our first response is to reveal what our husbands have done and that makes us wrong on three counts.  First:  We are more concerned about ourselves than our husbands.  Second:  We are complaining out of inconvenience to our own lives.  And third, we just think we are better than them because we can see their sin and offences and we think theirs is worse than ours.

Because of selfishness we miss the whole point.  The purpose of putting on God’s covering of love isn’t primarily for self, it’s for others.

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We wear the covering of love because that’s what Jesus did for us.  He covers my sin so that I may come boldly before God.  If I’m being continually remade into Christ’s image, I’ll behave more and more like Him.  So shouldn’t I want to try and cover in the name of love, like He did?

WHY?  Why cover it up?

The covering of love doesn’t pretend the sin isn’t real, nor does it take away our flaws, it just hides them from all-out exposure to everyone else.

… Except God.

Now God is left alone with the person and the problem, to work quietly and to completely heal their heart.  It’s only God who can really tell* what needs changing, healing or to be left alone.   And no one wants the ugliness inside them exposed for everyone to see.  Most of us just close off when there’s a threat of exposure, including shutting out God.

My job?  To cover as the process is happening.  Jesus doesn’t cover my sin with His blood to hide it from God so I can slip into heaven with it.  Jesus covers to make it private:  Just between me and God.  This is where my salvation is worked out, privately under the cover of love.

As wives, we have the distinction of being invited to work co-operatively with God as we cover in love.  So I’m left with a question.  Am I going to be like Ham and expose sin and flaws to others (sidenote: like Satan the accuser of the brethren**).  Or, will I choose to cover like Shem and Japheth?

God places the onus on me to figure out the difference.  In this responsibility, I get to see who I really am by discovering the real motive in my heart.  Why do I want to expose his flaws?  Or, why do I want to cover his flaws?

It’s tricky ground for sure.  Navigating the steps on the soil of our own hearts.

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* (Jeremiah 17:10;  Psalm 139:1-4;  Romans 8:27)

**(Zechariah 3:1;  Revelations 12:10)

 

 

Adversity

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This analogy has a great application for marriages.  It’s only in the storms that weak spots are exposed.  When they are exposed the builder doesn’t scrap the whole ship as a failure and start over.  Rather, now that a weakness is exposed it can be fixed and made stronger.

The storms in marriages reveal weaknesses in both people, not failures; areas that are still unhealed, unhealthy and incomplete.  Every marriage is a one-flesh ship, so to speak, and will face storms.

Weakness or Failure?

The design of marriage is for support during weakness – not condemnation in failure.  Storms will happen, you can’t live in this world untouched by them.  The Message describes the world as squalid and polluted and it makes sense, Satan owns it.  So we need a ship-mate who’s got our back if we are going to make it through.

God chose you to be your husband’s wife the day you met him.  You agreed to be his team-mate on your wedding day and sealed the deal on your wedding night.  In this, God invites you in on His plan: to witness Him renew your husband’s mind and change his life.

It’s in these storms that God does His best work.  It’s in these storms that we get to demonstrate our authenticity of faith; whether the storm is a simple rain shower or one that reaches extreme levels of intensity that beat and pound against the hull of a marriage for years.

Victors Are Selfless

Sarah gives us an example of how to handle ourselves in a storm.  When Abraham requested that she allow herself to be taken into Pharaoh’s harem, she saw the request not as a failure of a husband but as a flaw that was being exposed.  The sin of fear that needed healing before it got any worse.  In her example we see that she didn’t:

  • Take it personally – she didn’t see it as an attack on herself, or
  • Make it her business to set him straight or fix the circumstances– she didn’t believe she could do a better job of healing him than God.

Her spiritual maturity is confirmed by her ability to put him first.  His emotional damage was obviously worse than hers, she was stronger.  She didn’t say, No way, Abe.  You are not going to drag me down with you just because you are afraid.  She knew he needed her strength and power, not her criticism, and used this opportunity to intercede for him rather than go on a faultfinding mission.

It appeared as though Abraham was giving up on her and their marriage by choosing himself over her:

[…] they will kill me, but they will let you live.

Sarah was able to rise above our human propensity for selfishness by choosing the view of her life in eternity rather than the view of what was temporarily happening.  We cannot look at people from an earthly perspective.  We are to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances.  She gave us the amazing example of living for someone else and Paul put it into words this way, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves.

We need to accept that we’ve married fallen sons of God, not angels and not saints; they are going to sin.  Sometimes that sin is going to spill into marriage … against a wife.  It’s not fair, but it’s going to happen.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it right, “We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

There will be adversity so Paul tells us consequently:  Your husband has received the same Saviour you have.  Your sin is not less than his, just different; but forgiven equally.  Consequently, view him from God’s point of view:  in progress.

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A Marriage Illusion: 50/50

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When I first started to study the life of Sarah I thought she was mindless and weak.  And even though Paul said I could be her daughter if I saw her as a mentor, it was many years before I believed what he was saying; I didn’t want to be her daughter.  I was already a daughter of the feminist movement and preferred the mantra, “I am woman hear me roar.”  But like many other women who’d been raised in that same culture, I found out, albeit the hard way, that I was already powerful and strong.  I was created that way and didn’t need to draw my strength from a movement but from the source:  God.

So began the illumination about the 50/50 split* in marriage and why it’s not God’s view of marriage, but the world’s view.

When I think back I can remember my insides squirming in conflict whenever I came across Sarah, especially this little gem from 1 Peter 3.

It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority).

This just didn’t translate into fair and equal for me, which is what I believed marriage was about.  He can run his fifty percent and I’ll run my fifty percent.  Now that’s equality.

I believed the equality moniker licensed me to argue whenever “I” believed “I” was in the right.  In hindsight, God is funny … and patient.  It was like He slipped a little burr called marriage, just under my skin and whenever I pushed up against what I thought was IN-equality between us, I felt the sting of that burr.

I struggled with that burr, all the while blaming Darrell because the only time I felt the sting was when my conflict was with him.  My “prayers” for help seemed to fall on deaf ears.  I would point out (to God) all the things that my husband was doing wrong and how he wouldn’t listen to me.  I wanted to do things my way.  I had ideas and solutions on how to run our family, but there was always so much conflict between us whenever we tried to talk about options or solve problems.  And it just kept getting worse.

Weeks turned into months then into years.  I became more contentious about having the right answers.  More determined to fight for my rights; my way.

… and the burr just kept slicing away.

I had created a war zone in our home and a hardened heart within myself.

WHAT IS THE REAL BURR?

While mentally replaying a recent quarrel in frustration, I complained to God, “Fine, I just won’t have an opinion about anything, is that what YOU want?”

SILENCE.  A deafening silence.

(We all have eye-opening, pride-crushing moments in which God in His infinite grace allows us to wrestle with Him so we see the truth of ourselves.  This was one of mine.)

I had been in our kitchen doing dishes and slamming cupboards and the silence stopped me dead when I realized what I had said through gritted teeth and to Whom I had said it.  I fell onto my knees, not so much in repentance and adoration of God, but in a slump of emotional fatigue and confusion.  “Why did You give me a brain if You didn’t want me to use it?  There will be nothing left of me.”

This was the first time I ever heard God’s voice, I remember it like it was yesterday.  “Yes.  There will be nothing left of you; that is the point.  My Spirit cannot work in Darrell or you, with you in the way.”

With that first glimmer of understanding and the freedom that comes with the death of self, the burr started to loosen.

Focusing on getting our own way and own rights, 50/50, clouds our insight to the change God wants to do in us.  The issue had never been about obeying Darrell because he was right, or me “not using my brain.”  But rather God remaking us into whom He created each of us to be; using the tension now present in every marriage:  Desire.

 BEHOLD the real burr        ->       Desire … TO BE IN CHARGE; TO RULE

Yet your DESIRE and longing will be for your husband, and he will rule [with authority] over you and be responsible for you.

It’s my position that Genesis 3 is not a prescriptive text.  God was not delineating what He was going to do to each of us [Satan, Adam, Eve].  He didn’t put desire in wives, but rather He was describing and explaining what we had each done to our own selves.  He was letting us know how the relationships had changed and how they would play-out, on the outside of Eden.

Remember that He’s the Alpha Omega.  He doesn’t just know the future, He IS the future.  He wasn’t making plans for us, He already knew.  In His grace and love for us, He was giving us a “heads-up.”

Eve’s creation is from power and strength, but not with teshuwqah:  the desire to over power, conquer and rule.  Teshuwqah in wives is a consequence of sin and therefore not our natural or most beneficial state.

The challenge for me was (and still is from time to time) to resist the temptation of teshuwqah that lives in my flesh; that rears it’s head to contend when something seems not fair for me, or ‘right’ in my eyes.

Teshuwqah or submit

The nature of 50/50 calls for someone to be that dividing line between the two 50s making sure it’s all equal.  Whether you call it mutual submission or egalitarian style someone will end up being the scorekeeper to make sure that the submission actually IS mutual or to make sure that no one IS actually leading (or that both are leading … equally).  To ensure the dividing line is equal someone is either given the authority to say, or someone takes the authority and says so.

If Satan can keep you fighting for your rights and contending for your 50% of the 50/50, if he can keep your focus on the mutuality of “taking turns submitting” to the earthy fleshly circumstances of life, you will lean more and more on your own steam and less on God’s.  Satan’s goal is to keep you in the mindset he led you into in the first place:  Teshuwqah

In reality, 50/50 is the gender issue, the “he/she” of it.  I had pitted myself against my husband by choosing my own side of the dividing line.  As much as I said I was for our marriage, the evidence of score keeping proves that my heart was not all in.  Make no mistake, a home divided against itself will not stand. (Mk 3:25)  Here are the two blinding illusions:  First:  You cannot give 50% without withholding 50%, one cancels the other.  You are either 100% for your husband or you are withholding 50% in the name of mutuality or fairness.  It is the nature of equality:  someone tracks the transactions.  Second:  No one knows but you and God.

Well, I was a scorekeeper.  And that’s what I hadn’t liked about Sarah; she wasn’t.

Sarah was 100% for Abraham.  Looking at her through my 50/50 lense she appeared wimpy and unacceptable to me.  Sarah was willing to submit herself.  I was teshuwqah; making sure everything was “equal and fair.” I was the one keeping score … calling the shots from on top of my dividing line.

Then, that day on my kitchen floor …. BOOM, I wasn’t.

Isn’t it always like that with God.  He does the revealing, the healing.  All He asks is that we be willing to honestly look.  Even if it is through squinted eyes at first.  And as I began to view Sarah through His lenses, the low value I placed on her changed to overwhelming pride in being able to say, I am a true daughter of Sarah’s!

Her life exemplified a complete and undivided heart of trust in her LORD.  She demonstrated with her own marriage how opposite mine was.  And finally, a new level of dependence on God emerged that I had never experienced.

I will probably never submit as perfectly as Sarah and that’s ok.  At our house we aim for progress, not perfection.

Robyn

The focus shouldn’t be on a quid-pro-quo relationship, but on the marriage vows.  When we keep score, we automatically see the other person as the problem and absolve ourselves from guilt. –Eileen Silva Kindig

 

* other 50/50 references meaning the same thing, include:  egalitarian, mutual submission

 

WIFE: the missing link

"She’s got gaps and I got gaps, between the two of us,our gaps meet and we sort of fill each other in." -Rocky Balboa, Rocky

Have you ever wondered why God didn’t use the same raw material and method to create Eve that He used for Adam?  I have.  He could have used the same dirt or a petal from a flower or a leaf from a tree.  Why from the man at all?  And what is so significant about the rib?

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; And while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.

I wonder what that experience was like for Adam.

What is missing?

Imagine standing in your kitchen, in the middle of making thanksgiving dinner.  In a brief lull as you wait for the turkey drippings to reach boiling for gravy, you doze off in a daydream for a few seconds but when you snap out of it, all the spoons are missing, even the one in your hand!

That’s what happened to Adam.  God took something away from him.  The part that God took was not a spare part or an extra part, but an essential part; it made him autonomous.  The piece that enabled self-sufficiency in Adam, was now missing.  Let that marinade for a second:

Adam was created complete and self-sufficient; he needed nothing

but when he wakes from his nap

he now has a … gap.

Something has changed inside of him,

he is not self-sufficient anymore.

he has a lack.

Adam’s rib, more than just bone and marrow, is an essence.  The Amplified describes it as, a part of his side.  Not literally less a rib, because men and women have the same number of ribs, but something represented by a rib.

WHo & what wives are?

Dig a little deeper into this essence and what you find is power and strength.  God took power and strength out of Adam’s side (his rib) and used it to create another human.  This strength and power is both beautiful and dangerous.  Beautiful because it can propel a man to be his best.  Dangerous because it can cause a man to limp along in life or even stop him in his tracks; to literally cause him to halt.  That is some serious power.

Now the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Of all the English words to describe God’s intent for wives, helper meet is the weakest.  I struggle with the English translation because it casts the vision of a companion to remedy isolation or to fill a void of loneliness.  God said “alone” not “lonely.”

The word for wife [helper] is ezer.  It means power and strength; just like God is power and strength.  Interestingly, the word ezer is used many times in the Old Testament and it is almost exclusively in reference to God.  When you are at a loss or at the end of your rope, and you’ve got no one who is powerful enough to do the job … God Himself will be your EZER.  He is ESSENTIAL.

Dig even deeper under the strength and power and you find purpose:  To rescue, to save.  Not to save eternally, as God does, but in a human relational sense: to save the emotions.

In keeping with the fullest meaning of ezer, a more accurate interpretation of Genesis 2:18 might be:

I will make for him a power and strength that will rescue and save

How Wives Do It

In simplest terms wives receive, respond and reveal through reflection.

It makes perfect sense that God chose the power and strength from the man to create woman. He knew there was going to be some tension in marriage as two people become one flesh.  The woman needs to be a match for man’s strength and power, otherwise, she wouldn’t be an accurate reflection and she wouldn’t be strong enough.

The original word is, kenegdo.  It means parallel or opposite to  each other.  Think of a mirror.

In her book Captivating, Stasi Eldredge quotes Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, as saying, “…that this phrase [ezer kenegdo] is “notoriously difficult to translate.”  She goes on to say, “The various attempts we have in English are “helper” or “companion” or the notorious “help meet.”  Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat … disappointing?” “

I’m with this Stasi on this.  When I hear “helper, companion, or help meet”, I think of a two-dimensional, compliant safe Stepford Wife, one that is a supplement to a husband; instead of a real woman like Sarah.  Ready to risk as she steps into the fray for Abraham.  Sarah, the essential.  The power and strength that would have been required for her to submit to Abraham’s requests to exchange her own safety for his just aren’t captured in the word “companion.”

Training Partners?

The Torah Study for Reform Jews defines an ezer kenegdo as a “helper against him.”  The tension between male and female is there by God’s design.  We are adversaries with a common goal:  we are against each other for the sharpening of each other, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].(Proverbs 27:17)  But these well-sharpened blades are not to be used on each other, but FOR each other in the greatest battle against our common enemySatan.

Training from within to conquer together is played out every day in sporting teams.  I love sports metaphors and analogies because they transfer from the natural to the spiritual perfectly.  There isn’t a team sport out there that doesn’t practice against one another, as adversaries, to get stronger and to learn.

This is why God wants us bound in marriage.  The sharpening of each other, that is, the becoming of one flesh can be quite a ferocious battle.  We are both such powerful forces on our own … but together, wow!  When we stay together and fight together; back-to-back against Satan through God’s power … we are unconquerable.

Are you using that strength and power that God used to create you for your husband or against the marriage?

 

WHAT IS MARRIAGE AND WHY DO WE DO IT?

The Wedding

Do you ever think about your wedding day?  I think about mine.  Do you remember that morning when you woke up, I bet your heart wasn’t filled with doubts and second guessing, “Well, I guess it’s better than being alone.” Or, “I’ll give it my best shot … and see what happens.”  Like me, I bet your heart was full of hope for a great day and the expectation of a wonderful future with the man of your dreams!  I remember laying in bed that morning excitedly thinking, “Today, is the day!”
Generally, most of the weddings we attend, or hear about, unfold seamlessly.  The day is a blur of excitement starting with the ceremony itself leading to a great wrap-up party, the reception!  Lastly, the bride and groom are swept off to some exotic destination … just the two of them.  Life couldn’t get much sweeter!

The Honeymoon

During this beginning season the marriage holds such high hopes of promise.  Beginnings are like that.  In fact, we see the same delight at the inception of creation, everything is:  GOODx6 and a VERY GOOD marks the finale.  But then, within one and a half chapters into the story of humanity, something goes tragically wrong.  Adam and Eve free in the garden, lost in wonder and delight of all that was very good, had their eyes maliciously and irrevocably opened … and the first brick in the wall of separation was coolly placed between them.

The Marriage

It is the same pattern in our marriages, something … changes.  It happens ever so subtly.  Something has slowly crept in between the bride and groom that we didn’t expect and certainly didn’t plan for.  Somewhere between The Wedding and The Marriage, there has been a shift.
Isn’t it true that we wake up on our wedding day assured that we could conquer anything and that we’d grow old together?  But within a few short years we sense an UNsureness, we start to feel a little suspicious that our fairy tale wedding day isn’t delivering everything to our marriage that it promised.  Slowly our expectations are dashed one-by-one as reality is revealed, this slow creep causes the shift to become more prevalent and our marriage begins to get hard … along with our hearts, and it starts to show in our thoughts:  Why did I ever marry this personWhat was I thinkingMaybe they are the wrong person.

MISperception

I know it might sound silly but it never occurred to me that my marriage would be nothing like my wedding day.  In hindsight it became completely clear though, either no one told me or I failed to listen.  Either way reality proves the truth that the marriage and a wedding day are actually polar opposites!  A wedding day is so well planned that you might as well call it a script; everything falls into place perfectly and we work on that script for almost a year, sometimes longer!  Lots of hard work, planning and compromising with each other went into that script for that ONE day.
How did I miss that?  A marriage is not just going to magically happen when even a magical wedding day didn’t magically happen.  I think the knowledge is there for the learning, we just don’t believe the information applies to us when it says, “It could get ugly at some point, what’s your plan?”  Even though we read statistic after statistic that divorce rates have been climbing.  We can’t see past the euphoric pleasure of the present to comprehend any such conflict driving us apart.  And still, somewhere deep inside us we know it makes sense because marriage is the single most challenging adventure of all the earthly experiences.
Marriage is the most significant institution we will ever join and it is the relationship with the most consequential and far reaching effect in our lives.  Yet there are no courses on spousal selection and anyone can get a marriage license with zero training or preparation.  Sydney J. Harris captures the mindset perfectly, “Almost no one is foolish enough to imagine that he automatically deserves a great success in any field of activity, yet almost everyone believes that he automatically deserves success in marriage.

Why Choose to Marry?

So … why do we get married?  It’s a question that begs self-examination.  Is it because of some innate fear of being alone?  Or is it because, it’s just what we do?  You know, you’re born, grow-up, go to school – fall in love and get married.
Fall in love.  There’s a phrase I find … curious.

Falling in Love?

It’s interesting, for a book that is full of love talk, I can’t seem to find anywhere that God speaks of falling in love.  Why do we say it that way?  It does have a romantic echo to the phrase, but it also has a sense of lack of responsibility, perhaps even commitment.  If the marriage gets too hard there is a pathway already prepared:  we can say that when we were falling in love, we fell for the wrong person.
We humans do that.  You can see it in Adam’s response to God when He was looking for accountability of Adam’s actions after eating the fruit.  Adam didn’t only try and shift the blame to Eve but also onto God Himself!  The woman YOU gave me did it.  And then with Eve, she tried to pass the buck too by saying that it was the snake’s fault.  It seems none of us want to take responsibility for our part, do we?
The most romantic description I’ve ever heard as to why people get married is from the movie, Shall We Dance, here’s the clip of the scene:

 

*SIGH*

Now, although that’s a beautiful sentiment and maybe even a worthy declaration, I don’t believe it’s entirely what God had in mind when He established marriage.

The First Marriage

The first marriage was an act of purpose.  The voice that spoke all life into existence then united a team.  It’s interesting that God didn’t create Adam and Eve at the same time.  He could’ve but instead He chose to create Adam in a vacuum.  This wasn’t a mistake.  He didn’t create Adam alone then realize, “Uh-oh, Adam is alone – I guess I didn’t think that one through, maybe one of the animals can keep him company.”
I think Adam was meant to experience his aloneness in the real time of watching the animals come and go in pairs as he named them.  God brought all the creatures to him, but … there was not be a suitable companion for him.” (Gen 2:19-20)  God could have just as easily told Adam that when he was done naming the animals that He would bring him someone special.  Someone just like him!  But God didn’t say anything.  Instead, He let a yearning grow inside of Adam; a yearning for his pairing.
Adam was meant to notice something special in Eve; something he needed.  And he did!  You can tell by his response to seeing her for the first time, “Finally!  Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!”  Or, in our present vernacular, “Finally!  Now SHE belongs with me!”
The both of them, were meant to see that they needed each other for the journey, that they had to depend on each other, lean on each other … not blame one another.

The Step From Bride to Wife

I think it’s significant that Eve was never a bride.  She was created as a wife.  We are brides for a single day, but we are wives for the life of the Marriage.  We can make make generalizations for the answer to the question, what is marriage?  And there are lots of different ideas, to be sure.  But in order to find out what your marriage means to you and why you got married?  Only you can answer that, because only you know the woman inside of you.  Only you know if she’s a bride or Wife.