Yesterday marked fourteen years of marital bliss with my bride. And so last night one of our amazing ladies here at the church made a cake for us and we had a mini-celebration of sorts with those who were a part of our Bible study. I was struck in conversation later by the words of another one of our parishioners who wished me a Happy Anniversary and then made the comment, “You two are becoming more the exception than the rule”. Wow. Yet I look around me and I know it’s the case. Marriages ending after a few years, after ten years, sometimes even after decades of being together and I wonder where we are missing the mark. Why isn’t our society, or the church, producing healthier marriages? Where did we go so wrong?
Honestly, I think many people enter into marriage with the wrong motivation. We see marriage as an opportunity for someone else to make us happy, complete, whole, fulfilled, satisfied, etc. and in the church we base this out of a wrong concept of marriage that we pull from the very beginning. In the book of Genesis there are two accounts of the creation of man. In Genesis 1, we read of God creating mankind in His image, both male and female. In Genesis 2 we read about the more intimate account of God forming man from the dust of the ground and then realizing that something was missing. Man’s loneliness did not reflect the divine image that we read about in Genesis 1 and so God attempts to fix this condition with different animals. After this doesn’t work He causes the man to fall into a deep sleep, removes an intimate piece of him and forms the woman. We then read this response, “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.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:23-24. We often read this and think about how the woman is the fulfillment of man’s loneliness or his desire in some way, but what if both the man and the woman form a more pivotal role in each others lives as reflections of the divine image?
The phrase “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” is very much based in the physical realm and yet it speaks of this reflective imagery between the man and the woman. She is a reflection of him and he is a reflection of her. But in the previous account in chapter one, both male and female are created as image bearers (made in the image) of God. So regardless of the conditions we sometimes base on our partner or spouse, what we should be calling out is not a means of satisfying my needs or desires, but rather creating space for the other to become the greatest image bearer of God they can be. In other words, in my relationships, in my marriage am I making space for my partner to reflect God to me and to the world or am I just trying to see how this makes me feel? And likewise, is this person creating space for me to be the best image bearer of God that I can be?
Maybe if we began here instead we might have a lot less divorce, discord and hurt and we just might reflect our maker more and perhaps longevity in marriages would again become the norm versus the exception.