Marriage: How Do I Find A Godly Spouse? (Part 2)
In this post we will focus on an important question: What is the purpose of Marriage? When God instituted Marriage did He have a purpose in mind? We read in Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” From this verse we learn that God declared the "aloneness" of man, "not good." For the First time in the creation account God declared that something is not good. No one told God that something was not right, it was He that declared, "it is not good for man to be alone."
I want to stress the point that what God declares as not good is the objective reality of the man's "aloneness." God is not here concerned with the subjective feeling of the man's loneliness. Marriage is not given to solve a "loneliness" problem, marriage is to solve an "aloneness" problem. Loneliness is a heart problem, which Adam did not have prior to the fall, but he did had the objective problem of being alone.
We also see from Genesis 2, that God commits Himself to solve the problem. God will provide a "helper fit for him." God will provide a companion suited to the man. We read in Genesis 2:19-20 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. These two verses have sometimes been interpreted in a way that implies that Adam was made aware of his loneliness. Have you perhaps heard the same sermon at a wedding once? The preacher says: "Adam was looking at all the happy animal couples, and then he realized he also wants a companion." I believe however that these verses were intended to show that Adam needed a helper fit for him, and to cause us to consider what kind of helper would be suitable/fit for Adam.
The solution to the "aloneness" of Adam was not going to be an easy fix. We read in Genesis 2:21-22 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. As some bible commentators and preachers have noted: "Adam underwent serious surgery." God took from the man's side, in order to provide a companion for him. When God brought the Woman to Adam, we find his response in Genesis 2:23-24 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." The Woman is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone. She is the helper, the companion fit for him. She is suitable, because se was specifically created for the man not to be alone. Married couples will tell you that the woman's tendency to provide companionship often exceeds the man's desire for companionship. God knows that a man's need for companionship far exceeds his desire for companionship. Why do you think God did not wait for Adam to tell Him that something is not right? God identified Adam's need for a companion long before Adam even desired a companion.
A quick look at Ephesians 5 in the New Testament reveals something wonderful about God's institution of marriage. We read that the words of Adam's response in Genesis 2:23-24, refer to Christ and the Church. Ephesian 5:31-32 “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 Christ and the church. God's design for marriage displays the profound mystery of pointing toward Christ and the Church. Marriage therefore points to Christ and His Bride. It is worth pondering this mystery a little longer, without pushing to explain it entirely. We notice that marriage costs Adam something in his flesh. It is by God's design. Likewise it cost Christ something in the flesh to have His Bride, the Church. The strange and wonderful part is that God designed marriage like this before the fall. Again these are thoughts for careful meditation and not an attempt at explaining any mysteries away.
Now that we know that God designed marriage for companionship. How does one proceed? Here I believe that the man must realize that God said, "it is not good that man should be alone." There are a lot of men who consider relationships, and especially marriage as a terrible burden. Some have convinced themselves that "I am better off alone.” But this is the opposite of what God said. (I quickly want to point out to those who would raise an objection, by pointing to the Apostle Paul and his view on marriage. Paul did not remain unmarried, because he concluded like so many men today, "I am better of alone." Paul did not just give up on women, but had a particularly difficult calling and ministry. There were certain things that Paul was freed up to do in his ministry that marriage and concern for a spouse would not afford him. Most men do not have the kind of ministry calling that Paul had. Paul is an exception to the rule. An exception with very particular circumstances.)
When man embraces God's declaration that, "it is not good for the man to be alone," he is ready to look for a helper suitable for him. Just as God took from Adam's side in order to form a wife, all men are taught that they have a certain responsibility in pursuing marriage. It is no accident that for most of history the man was the one to take initiative, men do the proposing and women do the accepting or rejecting.
We read in 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
Without a young man giving himself and dying to himself to take up the calling of a husband, a young woman has no option to take on the role of wife. Paul says that the woman is from man, as we read in Genesis 2:23-24 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." Adam calls her "Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Don't you think some of our traditions are based on these realities? Traditionally the Man proposes to the Woman, and when they get married the wife takes the husband's name. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:23 “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church.” Head can be understood to mean "source" or "authority." There is great debate surrounding what "head" means, but I believe that the bible uses the word "head" to convey both of these meanings. In the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on page 127, Thomas Schreiner asks the question: “In what meaningful sense can one say that a husband is the source of his wife? Wives do not exist by virtue of their Husband’s existence. Wives do not derive their lives from their husbands.” I suggest that there is a meaningful sense that a husband is the source of his wife. Take for example, Ephesians 5:29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. In marriage husband and wife become one flesh, but the husband has the distinct responsibility to nourish and cherish his wife. In that sense the man is the source of this union. (In his book The Case of the "Hopeless" Marriage, Jay Adams writes that in the Bible, "every command to love in a marriage is given to the husband. If a home lacks love, therefore, that's the husband's fault.") It will be worth the time to study Scripture and meditate on how the husbands authority flows from his responsibility to love, cherish and nurture his wife.
A husband who does not take up his responsibility will not have much power (authority) in his marriage. Some time ago I watched an interview, where the interviewer asked his guest about the government's animosity towards their organization. The interviewer asked about the guests concerns if the government should take more forceful action against the organization in the future. The guest replied that he is not worried about what the government threatens to do, since they don't generally deliver on any of their promises. He said that if they are unable to address the things they are responsible for, they do not have much authority (power) to do anything against responsible and hardworking citizens.
Husbands and wives need to know their respective responsibilities before God. Each is accountable to God, for those responsibilities. Pray that God may give you a spouse that understands and takes their responsibility seriously. And don't forget to pray and submit to God for the responsibilities that He has called you to. The ultimate purpose of Marriage is for husband and wife to reflect the glory of God and of Christ and the Church. (You might find some books on ecclesiology that would be helpful to aid in understanding marriage. Better yet, look at how Christ relates to the local church and how the local Church in turn relates to Christ her head.)