(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg
Genesis 2:15-25 NIV
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. 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.
23 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."
24 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.
Turn with me now to Mark 10:6 - 9
The pharisees of Jesus day were out to justify their actions - divorcing actions, after all, in their minds, Moses had permitted it. Jesus goes back further than Moses - he goes right back to the way God designed things in the very beginning.
6 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'
7 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
People of God
"Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match
Find me a find
Catch me a catch"
(I just knew that if I sang a few bars - I would have your attention)
You might remember the words. Words that express a young person's hearts desire for just the right person, the ideal intimacy, the perfect companion - heaven on earth happily every after.
But these days, not all people are singing that song. More and more people it seems are choosing the route of singleness - singleness
because its possible in our culture to live as a single person on a single salary, it is possible to live an independent life style rather than an interdependent life style. Rugged individualism is no longer just an idea - its possible to live the reality.
because people more and more are avoiding the pain of intimate relationships Somebody has written: "In marriage you learn loyalty, patience, understanding, perseverance, and a lot of other things you wouldn't need if you'd stayed single."
because sex and the single person is an acceptable standard in our culture - why not have the best of life without commitment.
Scripture however gives some fairly clear instruction about singleness
Singleness is the exception rather than the rule - it is an exception because in scripture singleness is a God given gift which involves self control and sexual purity in the form of abstinence (Math 19:12, I Cor 7:7,9) And scripture basically gives two reasons for the choice of singleness - because of the present crisis (I Cor 7:26) and so that a person can live in undivided devotion to the Lord and his service (I Cor 7:32, Rev 14:4). When people choose singleness for these last reason, their devotion and dedication is worthy of our deepest honour. When they are single not by choice, rather because they honour the institution of marriage God's way and they have not found the right partner yet, or if they have lost a partner, we will honor and respect them in the challenging situation that God has placed them in - being for them companions, friends, the fellowship of the saints to support them whenever and however we can.
When people choose singleness for some of the obvious reasons that are so common in our highly individualized culture, because it easy, because it involves no commitments and to avoid pain - singleness ought not be regarded by us as an honorable state.
I suspect though, that you would agree - in most of our hearts, there is, has been, will be that yearning for just the right person. When God said of Adam "It is not good for the man to be alone." he revealed to us a profound truth - we need others. For Adam, even the perfections of the garden of Eden, the joy of working there, even the blessing of the presence of God could not resolve his loneliness. The life God has given us he has designed to be shared with others. The life God has given us is designed to be shared with family, with friends, with the family of God, and also, in the intimate context of a wife husband relationship. God made us male and female - everyone of us participates in that male and female dynamic - for that reason - marriage was instituted. Apart from the gift of singleness which God imparts, marriage is God's design for us.
But the words of Jesus in Mark 10 and its parallel passages point us to the fact that finding a spouse is more than just a demonstration of God's design. Jesus says "Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." When we hear that, we usually focus on the "let man not separate" part. Jesus, however, tells us that finding for us a spouse is God's work, it is he who joins two people, it is the divine God of the cosmos bringing to souls together. And for that reason, the marriage covenant ought to be honored among us - because it is God's work.
This basic truth has a whole variety of consequences in our perceptions of dating and of marriage - this morning, let me highlight a few for you.
Of the just less than 3 billion possibilities that there are out there for a spouse for each of us - finding one is not just a matter of chance or coincidence. Finding the right one is not a matter of having enough dates with enough different people. God is in the business of putting people together. He is the matchmaker. He is the one who sets up coincidences. He is the one who tunes our heart to one particular person. When the desires for intimacy start drawing our heart toward a particular person, out of those billions of possibilities, this particular person is not just chance - behind the scenes - God is at work - doing something I think he particularly enjoys - finding companions suitable for us, attracting us to one another - creating an emotional magnetism so that two might become one together. That is the math of love - 1 + 1 = 1. So they are no longer two, but one.
Oneness, you see is God's objective in marriage. That is why scripture gives us some very clear guidelines for marriage partners - that they be with us in the Lord which forms a spiritual and ethical foundation for the rest of marriage. And then, because oneness is not only spiritual and ethical - it is also emotional,scripture gives very clear instructions to marriage partners about loving one another, and respecting and honouring each other, and about forgiving one another, and cherishing each other. And because a couples sex life is founded on this emotional component - scripture gives very clear guidelines about fidelity, covenantal faithfulness to each other so that the marriage can be a place where sex and procreation happens in the safety of friendship and the security of relational integrity. God draws two people together to accomplish this goal of oneness between a husband and a wife.
This truth ought to be a wonderful comfort to all of us. If we are not married yet - we can understand that even while we are seeking the Kingdom of God first in our lives - God, is in the process of preparing for us a life companion, a husband or wife - this is God's doing - and when our hearts become attracted to that person of the opposite sex, as we have placed in our hearts God's design for marriage - we can trust that this is truly God's will, God's work in our lives, finding us a helper suitable. And by the way, when scripture here describes Eve as a helper, there is no sense that she would be Adams slave, doing domestic chores - the picture is much more one of companionship and partnership. God himself is repeatedly given the same name in scripture - with the same Hebrew word - because God is our helper and our strength.
Matthew Henry explained the text this way: "The woman was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved."
Take comfort in the fact that God is at work - finding you a man, finding you a women, a companion suitable. And his design is that you become one.
That is not to say that becoming one is easy. When two persons get married, they come with different characters, different backgrounds, different experiences, different values, different understandings and different assumptions. And the journey to becoming one can at times involves the highs and lows of an emotional roller coaster the likes of which nothing else compares. But through it all, in our trust of God, we can be assured that God is at work, using both good and bad for our benefit. That is one of the comforts that we can have when we are not our own, but belong to God in life, in marriage, even in death - God is at work behind the scenes for our benefit - not even a hair can fall from our heads without his will.
This truth changes how we see conflict in marriage. Conflict is not just two people disagreeing and sometimes wounding each other. Conflict is two people being sharpened - as iron sharpens iron, so one friend another - says that scripture - in marriage two people with rough edges come together - and in the process of the relationship of marriage - it is God's design that they mature and grow in beauty. Place two sharp broken rocks in a tumbler with sand - and over time - they come out beautiful - in a sense - marriage is that sand filled tumbler for us. But the wonder is - when we see from the beginning that our marriage was made in heaven - then the tumbling too, becomes heaven's work - God working in us, conforming us to the likeness of his sun. Getting rid of our natural immature egocentricity, and teaching us to live for another.
How sad it is when people do not see the great Matchmaker at work. We live in a culture that sees the coupling of the sexes as a Godless biological function - a dynamic of chemistries and hormones that are triggered by appearance and fermones. As such, sex and marriage are about as viable as the chemistry that drives them, and if for reasons of conflict or other, the chemistry fails, and the emotions dry up - then our culture says marriage should be eliminated also. Being blind to God, our world is becoming blind to God's intent for marriage. What God has put together ... let not man separate.
How much more do we have reason to put our best into marriage - because they are God's work, for our good.
Let me conclude by reminding us that this becoming one between husband and wife was a pre - fall purpose. Becoming one, no doubt has been made far more complicated by the introduction of sin into the world - but it is very clear that the objective still holds - this oneness is God's intent for marriage - where partners in the context of love can be so transparent with each other that though they are spiritual, emotionally, physically naked, they know no shame. In the end - that is the cry of every human heart - to know others, and be known completely - and in the context of being known - being loved, accepted, embraced. God desires that for his children - because where that kind of conditionless love is known - people experience a taste of God's love for them, God's gracious forgiveness to them, God's desire too, to know them and be known.
People of God
What God has put together...
I invite you to look at your marriage in a different light - don't look at it as a relationship that was your choice - it is a relationship that was God's choice.
Don't look at it as a relationship which through compromise maintains some semblance of a truce - look at it as a relationship where God is taking two individual's and making them one couple - spiritually, emotionally, physically.
And don't think that you are the only ones working to keep it together, the comfort that we have is that God is working to keep us together. Join with him in his work, listening to what his Spirit is saying, in your joys, sorrows, times of peace and times of struggle. God is at work, among you, to will and to work according to his own good pleasure.
Thanks for the joy of marriage
Thanks for the joy of relationships - singles in the body of Christ.
Prayer for marriages, struggling marriages.
Prayer for broken people, where marriage is broken, sin undealt with has destroyed what you have put together.
Help us all to recognized boudnaries
Help us all to recognize you at work.
In our culture we symbolize that commitment with a wedding ring. Someone has said that the wedding ring is a small piece of jewelry on your finger that cuts off your circulation.