I did something rather silly today…I know, you’re so shocked.
Today, among other things, was one of those days where my Saint Bernard, Sophie, was glued to my hip and had forgotten how to use her brakes. When I took the dogs out this morning, I was watching Zorro eat grass (I don’t know), and all of a sudden I was hit with a block of force at my knees, nearly throwing me to the ground. I look down to see Sophie, tongue hanging out, mouth wide open, looking up at me as she pushes against my legs and sits all of her weight down on my feet.
While I was doing Zumba, she stood right next to me, not letting me move anywhere, and when I went to one side of the living room, she’d step on my heels as I moved, doing the same as I went to the other side. It was rather ridiculous.
Also while I was Zumba-ing, I read an article titled, “My Husband Is Not My Soulmate.” Now, the article itself seemed to voice the true idea that it’s not fair for women to expect men to fulfill them in the way that God should. Yes. I agree. So I shared the article, despite the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart, trying to let me know something just wasn’t right.
Surely enough, Pastor Dan caught me and explained what was wrong with it. Fulfillment doesn’t only come from God.
“WHAT????? BUT YOU’VE BEEN SAYING THIS WHOLE TIME THAT, YOU, BUT, WHAT!!???”
Hold your horses. Everything will be okay.
It’s true that only God can make you whole, but there’s a certain fulfillment with which God ‘equipped’ the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Now, being a single person, I’m ignorant of many things….like marriage, and relationships, but mostly marriage. I didn’t really know about this fulfilling aspect of marriage, or that it even existed.
While it may seem like the Bible has little to say on romantic relationships, it actually has a lot to say on marriage. The verses I’d like to focus on, as pointed out to me by my pastor, are Genesis 2:18-25 and Ephesians 5:25-32.
Now, before I even venture onward, I want to make a disclaimer. I’ve read lots of books on marriage, plenty of articles, and listened to many adults in my life talk about the wonderful things about marriage as well as those things that are a bit difficult. Yes, I even have a ‘wedding’ board on my Pinterest page, but have it only because I’m hoping that one of my friends will get engaged and ask me to plan their wedding, but that’s a completely different discussion. But, because I’ve never been married (and, at this point, don’t plan to be married), there’s only so much knowledge I have, only so far I can go with the topic. Regardless of this limiting factor, I want to talk about it anyway.
A while back, my parents got me a DVD set of ‘The Lucy Show’ staring Lucille Ball. I love ‘I Love Lucy,’ and I learned to love ‘The Lucy Show’ as well. There was one episode that saddened me though. Lucy had been asked to do a comedy skit with Georges Burns. He asked her, during the performance, to tell the audience about her brother. She responded with, in her quirky, ginger way that is typical Lucy, “the one that’s married or the one that’s in love?”
I’m ashamed to say that I laughed at first…but then I thought about it.
It has become that way, hasn’t it? Marriage is a game-ender, a downer, a bummer. Even Al P. Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’ sang about what a drag it was to be getting married, as if it were the end of the world, as if it were his funeral.
I’m convinced, despite the heart ache I’ve seen and the divorces and separations I’ve witnessed, that God never intended marriage to be this way.
In Genesis, it says “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is 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 his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (v. 18-25, ESV)
I’m sure a lot of you reading this have heard this passage or something like it, even if you’re not a really big Bible-reader.
At the beginning of this passage, Adam goes through and names all of the animals, but there’s no fulfillment or connection with any of them, not the way God wants, not by God’s definition of ‘fit.’ So, God decides to make a helper out of the already present helper. He takes a rib from Adam (a part of his physical body) and makes from it the woman, Eve. Now, look at this. Why didn’t God just create another human? I mean, that’s what he did with Adam, right? Made his body from dust and breathed life into it. Why didn’t He just do that with Eve?
Instead of doing that, He took a PART of Adam and made Eve, implying that, biologically, Eve was part of Adam, or an extension of himself. Wow. Think about that for a moment. Before God the first two humans were joined in what would later on become the culture-differentiating bonding ceremony that occurs at weddings, as Adam looked at Eve and claimed her as an ‘at last,’ an extension of his flesh and bone, an extension of himself.
Let’s look at the ‘at last.’ This implies, I think, that Adam had indeed been waiting, just as God had, in a way, for a helper fit for him, but not just any helper…Eve. Cool 🙂
Jump forward to Ephesians 5:25. Oh this is so much fun! 😀
This is often the verse that Christian husbands and wives will go to when they feel their spouse is not fulfilling God’s commandments. “Honey, God says ‘submit to your husband.’ That would be me.” “Yeah, well, it also says ‘husbands, love your wives.’ Last I checked I was the wife of this marriage.” But I’m going to look at it a bit differently.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to (or represents) Christ and the church.” (v. 25-32, ESV)
I got chills just reading this 🙂 God via Paul is saying that husbands, like Christ so cares for the church, should love their wives ‘as their own bodies.’ In other words, this is further describing women as extensions of men, as in, a man and a woman are part of each other, complete in one another, bonded together as one person.
So….there are actually soul mates.
Soul mates do exist. The term ‘soul mate’ as defined by Merriam-Webster, is either 1) a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament, or 2) a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs.
The words ‘suited’ and ‘resembles’ caught my eye in these definitions. A helper ‘fit’ for Adam. A person ‘suited’ to another. A person who ‘resembles’ another. A woman is an ‘extension’ of a man.
So while I agree that God is first and foremost what you need to make you whole, the bond between a man and a woman in marriage is by far, according to the Bible, the second greatest relationship one can have in this life. God via Paul, in the passage looked at in Ephesians 5, could have used any number of relationships to represent and explain and describe the beautiful bond between Christ and His lovely bride—he could’ve used friendships, the relationship between brother and sister, the relationship between man and animal, between creation and creator, person and food (sorry :P)—but he used the marriage relationship between man and woman. Wow.
Beneath your personal, growing, ever-maturing relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who reconciles you to Himself so that you can be made whole and made ready to take on the rest of your life with Him at the steering wheel, stands the relationship you have with your husband or wife. Wow. That is so cool.
I want to take a moment to talk about the rare ‘gift of singleness.’ I’m sure some of you are thinking “Yeah, some gift.” But hold on a sec. In the book of 1 Corinthians, after talking about principles for marriage, Paul refers to this gift as just that, a gift.
“Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” (v. 7:6-8, ESV)
I know it seems contradictory, but look at it closely. Paul introduces it as a ‘concession,’ which means, according to the World English Dictionary, “the act of yielding or conceding, as to a demand or argument.” He’s basically saying that, though he wishes everyone could be like him (single forever), he understands that singleness is the will of God for only some and that marriage and being fruitful and multiplying is for the majority of humanity. So some people might end up being single for the rest of their lives, and while I know that sounds horrifying, it can actually be a wonderful thing 🙂 But God’s will, for the majority of men and women, is for them to be married before Him, exemplifying the spiritual bond that He has with His bride, the church.
For the longest time I’d hear my mother say things like “Life should go in order of relationships: you and God, then you and your husband, then you and your children, then” and onward. But it never really sunk in.
Marriage is not the wedding-version of a ball and chain. It’s not supposed to be some frightening thing that makes everyone who’s ‘in love’ run away in fear. Marriage is not something to be taken lightly. And the other person, how they fit you, how they complete your soul in the way that only God could think up, is beautifully important.
Now, this does not mean you should drop everything you’re doing and run out into the world to search for The One. That is NOT what I’m saying. You still have responsibilities and God, if you’re saved, is still using you where you are right now. I’m also not saying that person will be perfect. After all, they’ll be every bit human as you are, and they will make mistakes, they will sin, and they will fail. But I AM saying that, just as Adam was doing God’s work (naming the animals and keeping The Garden), as you continue on in this life, keep everything fixed on God, be patient, knowing that God’s timetable is different than yours and abandoning your own ideas about how the world should work, and focusing on the growth and strengthening of your relationship with Him, (unless He wills for you to be single) He will bring in a helper fit for you 🙂
Married people, I apologize if I did not do marriage justice, or if I, in my ignorance as a single person, somehow missed some vitally important part of marriage and the relationship between a man and a woman. I will say, however, that God has blessed you immensely in your marriage, even if you can’t see it. Nobody grows old together anymore, and it’s a blessing to see two people married, working through their problems together, trusting that the bond they share is not one to be taken lightly. It’s a blessing to see a wife who loves her husband, even if he treats her poorly. It’s a blessing to see a husband that nurtures and cherishes his wife, even if she’s changed until he doesn’t recognize her. It’s a blessing to see marriage prioritized so perfectly and treated so beautifully, with all of the seriousness and endurance of a war and all of the freshness and loveliness of a first date. Thank you for being examples to all of us single people 🙂 I thank God for you regularly and hope that your marriage, whatever state it may be in, grows and changes as the two of you do, and that you would never forget and be regularly reminded of the reverence and beauty with which God describes this covenant relationship into which you’ve entered, whether you entered recently or many years ago. Thank you 🙂