faith · family · life · marriage

marriage: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful (part one)

I’ve been seeing lots of “love your spouse challenge” pics lately and it got me thinking about marriage.  My love and I will be celebrating thirty years in a few weeks, and I can honestly say that though our marriage is far from perfect, to me it is beautiful.  (you can read cuppa love, if you’d like)

Last winter my Love and I were asked to speak at a couples’ retreat. As I was praying and studying for the weekend, I was overwhelmed with all that could be said, overwhelmed with my lack of wisdom and experience and overwhelmed with the fact that I was in no way whatsoever the perfect choice do this. I kept hoping God would send me an Aaron to speak for my stuttering Moses. But God grows us this way—through hard things and His perfection can shine through my imperfection and make something beautiful. Just like in my marriage. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts from the weekend. As I often say, I am not a Bible teacher, I just share the things that are on my mind and heart.

I confess: I’m a wannabe. (see here and here) I wannabe organized. I wannabe the consummate homeschooling mom. I wannabe the friend who remembers every important date and knows just what to say or when just to listen. I wannabe a fearless evangelist.   I wannabe a prayer warrior. I wannabe a Proverbs 31 kinda Christian woman, wife, mother and now grandmother. The list is longer yet…

Unfortunately, I have a wee bit of trouble with the follow-through. All my baskets, planners, and organizers are meaningless unless I actually put them into service on an ongoing basis. Pinterest is full of good ideas that might truly make my world a more beautiful and productive place, if I was not a pinner only, but a doer also. Some of my other wannabes are more virtuous in nature, and definitely require God’s hand on me.

With God’s help, I want my marriage to be beautiful in all of its imperfections…I wannabe a crown to my husband.

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones. ~Proverbs 12:4

Unlike the world at large, God is for marriage. From the beginning He meant it to be beautiful. A mysterious picture of Christ and the Church.

“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. ~Ephesians 5:31-32

He wants to bless us in marriage. He wants to grow us in it, to make us more like his dear Son, to be a representation of Christ and the Church to the world. We recently learned in our Beth Moore Study that there is always some history behind everyone’s story. Let’s look at the history behind marriage.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” ~Genesis 1:27-28 

First of all we see that God created man and woman in His image. This is not in a physical likeness, but in the inner being, our unique spiritual side, the emotions and higher thought that goes beyond instinct. Man and woman are equal. Let’s get this straight at the outset, because there are some things regarding marriage that can be hard for us women to swallow.

Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. ~1 Corinthians 11:11-12 

Again, man and woman are equal–yet dependent on one another. God is the giver of every good gift; all of creation depends on God for its continued existence and function. We need each other, and not just for biological reasons. We each satisfy a deep need in the other. (Don’t forget this need is from God, and does not negate our need for Him.) Husbands also need to be needed. Society teaches girls early on that we must be independent and that’s ok, but our husbands are wired to be our protectors. We must understand and accept, even appreciate their care for us when this nature kicks in. I’ve required a regular set of checkups for the last few years. When the first battery of tests was done, I was called in for a consult appointment. I was fully prepared to go on my own. My Love emphatically stated he would come. I told him he didn’t have to; I was ok. His response intrigued me: he simply stated, “I need to go.” His desire to go with me went beyond wanting to go; he needed to go—for me and for him.

Our verse continues with “Then God blessed them.

The dictionary explains:

bless (a transitive verb, meaning that there is a recipient of the action…sorry, I’m a homeschool momma)

  1. to bestow holiness
  2. to watch over protectively
  3. wish somebody or something well-declare approval and support
  4. confer desirable quality or talent on somebody

Doesn’t this definition wonderfully exemplify God’s generous nature! “Then God blessed them.” Four simple words in this passage that convey such an amazing thought. God is the ‘doer’ of the action, bless.  Man and woman are the receivers of the blessing.  Again, God is for marriage! He wants it to be beautiful and to make us beautiful in the process.

Let’s look at the portion of Scripture (Genesis 2:18-24) that fills in the blanks of our first passage.

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

Diving into the first verse, we see:

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

God knew Adam’s need for companionship before Adam could even identify his own aloneness, before he even knew what he was missing.  God purposed to meet that need according to His own wisdom and plan. Adam named the animals as they were brought before him, but he found no ‘helper comparable to him.’ When I picture this, I can’t help but imagine that Adam was profoundly disappointed. Woman was created to fill a vital role in Adam’s life (and subsequently, in the home, the church and the community as well). God says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

While this is not directly referencing marriage, it still applies.  I won’t take time to dwell on this but you can see the obvious benefits. One helps the other; life is better! Christ needs to be an integral part of our marriage. He is the glue that holds us together–in this case the third strand that makes the cord stronger. A Christ-centered marriage is not only stronger, but also reflects His love, His beauty, His forgiveness, His compassion and His grace. We need a strong relationship with Him as individuals and as a couple in order to have a strong marriage. (Luke 18:27) Time in prayer and His Word is crucial. He is our anchor, personally and collectively; we must lean on His strength and guidance. He reminds us that we’re on the same team and our energy should be directed in fighting for our marriage, not with each other.

There you have it…a brief history of the origin of marriage.  Next time, I’ll look at what it means to be my husband’s helper in marriage: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful (part two).

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