“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
Lord, Your Word is so amazing. What You have retained for us in this Book amazes me more and more every day I live, more and more over the years. And I can’t help being drawn back to the beginning, to where the picture of what we know and experience began for us. And I know that You are an Artist who loves to create pictures to help us, the slow of understanding, to understand. This account in Genesis is one of those beautiful pictures.
It’s not just a picture of the relationship of man to woman and woman to man, of husband to wife and wife to husband, but of mankind to the world, and of You to mankind, and You to man, and man to You, and You to woman and woman to You, and of You to You and You to us and us to You and You to the whole of creation and the whole of creation to You. It’s about unity and relationship and interrelationship.
One of the most misunderstood relationships I can think of is the relationship of husband to wife and wife to husband. If it weren’t such a hard relationship to understand, we wouldn’t have so many instances of divorce outside the church and amongst believers. And I know that people feel like they fall out of love, but in light of Genesis 2, I don’t think that can be the problem. I’m not saying people don’t feal like that. They do. But the root lies deeper. The root is a submission problem.
I wonder if a woman out there wants to stop reading at this point. All we here is “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” It’s in Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18. And we ought to. And time and time again, as a wife, I’m told to submit to my husband’s authority, and that he is over me, as Christ is the head of the church and over her. And to tell you the truth, I feel like something’s missing. I struggle with this. Not with the fact that I am called to submit. I 100% agree with that. But the fact that submission is being missed on the part of man is where I struggle. When did “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it…” become about hierarchy and lack of submission? As I recall, You, yes You Jesus, “being found in fashion as a man [yes, as a MAN!], humbled [Yourself], and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8 And don’t let me fool myself on that one, because the cross wasn’t the only thing You humbled Yourself before. You were humble before God and the Spirit, You were humble before an earthly mom and dad whom You had created, You were humble before the authorities, which didn’t always mean that You acted the way they wanted You to, but You always obeyed the Father because You were humble first before Him. You were humble before men and before women and before children and before slaves and the outcasts like the lepers. You sat down with them and took time with them and valued them above Your own image and welfare to the point where You were ridiculed and defamed and punished on their behalf.
Why? Why would you humble Yourself like that before all creation? Simply stated in the most basic of words, “For mankind’s benefit and the glory of Yourself.” You did this for my benefit and for my husbands benefit and for my children’s’ benefit and for each of our benefit because that’s what love does. It humbles itself and truly cares for the heart and welfare of the one it loves.
This is what Genesis 2 tells me. It tells me that You God, created man, that You knew that man was not complete and like You in unity if he was alone. “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” You intended to make someone for man that was his counterpart, one who could stand face to face with him. You didn’t create woman so that man would desire she stand with her face bowed before him or that woman would desire that man stand with his face bowed before her. You designed them to be such a relationship that they had each others backs and saw each other face to face as one, which is much more than an equal.
Skip the part about Adam coming to the conclusion through Your prompting that he was alone because there was no one else and nothing else like him on the earth. And skip ahead to what happened during that deep sleep You put him under. You took one of his ribs. You took a part of man himself, something that was him from deep inside, his bone, his flesh, and from that source, which had been derived from You as His source, from Your very breath, You created his help meet, his counterpart, the one to allow him to understand unity. You created woman. And Adam woke up and looked at this woman and was overjoyed and astonished! He realized who she was. She was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. She was right out of man. She was part of him. He was part of her. They alone were of the same person. She was taken out of man Scripture says. She was brought forth from his own being by God’s design. She was drawn out of the being and essence of man, who was drawn out of the being and essence of You, Lord, by Your hands and Your very breath.
Directly after You share this, You warn us. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Isn’t that interesting? Husband and wife are to be one flesh. Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord…” That’s that same word, echad. And it refers to unity in oneness. I guess it says a lot more than that, but that’s the heart of the issue. And I know that You, Lord, totally understand that issue. It’s us who have a problem with it.
The fact of the matter is that we both, men and women, have a problem with submitting one to another. The fact of the matter is that men are called to submit just as much as women are called to submit. It’s the only way we actually attain unity. “Therefore, because she came out of you, because you are both from one source, make every goal of both of yours to regain that full unity.” Don’t you get it? You are one!
If I can’t get this relationship, how can I truly understand what You did for me, Lord? You did this for me. You did this for my husband. You left Your home and came to me, the one who had been created from Your being. One who had lost unity because of sin. You cared so much for me, that You left all, You left the comfort of “home” and clove to me, to Your called out ones, to Your bride, men and women, to make us one with You. You set the example. In 1 Peter 3, we’re told, “Likewise, you wives.” But likewise isn’t just for the wives. It’s connecting the men and their response also with the wives to the actions mentioned earlier of You, Jesus. Likewise, men and women, husbands and wives, are to follow Your example in love. And that exudes humility and submission for the benefit of another.
Maybe marriage isn’t about hierarchy. Maybe the head isn’t supposed to be about being the chief considering our Chief Cornerstone humbled Himself more than anyone has ever humbled himself for our behalf, on behalf of His bride. Maybe the greater point is that it’s all about understanding the Source and where we fit in and where we come from. Maybe this was what Paul was thinking when he penned Ephesians 5:28-33. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself: and the wife that she reverence her husband.” Wow! A husband with that attitude? A husband with the mind of Christ for me? A husband that saw me as that integral a part of him and that desirous of unity? You betcha I would be in awe of him! Heck yeah!
Again, I’m brought back to that word likewise. “Likewise, you husbands dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 But it doesn’t stop there. “Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing.” See, the point is, from Genesis unto Revelation that the God of weakness loves to use the weaker vessel. He honours the weaker vessels with His strength and His blessings and His presence. He hears the weaker vessels and answers their prayers. And the weaker vessel isn’t something that needs lording over. It needs someone to become a weaker vessel with it and be one in unity with Christ as a whole vessel, humbly submitting one to another and under You Lord.
Well, it’s up to you how you want to choose to look at our obligations to one another as man and wife. But for me, and I pray for my house, we’ll serve and honour You, Lord, the way You intended. This unity that You created, well, it’s the one I long for. And I’m waiting for it, Lord, and I will do my part at humbling myself in order to allow You to bring it forth in our lives. But I can’t do it all on my own. Because, just like Adam, it’s not good for woman to be alone. So, let us both, let us all, learn to humbly submit to the limits of the love of Christ for us, because those limits are boundless. So, here I walk, in humbling expectation. Bring us into true weakness that we might line up with the people that You use, Lord, for Your glory and Your example before the world and all of heaven and all of hell. Maybe our marriages would be the picture of You they ought to be then. Wouldn’t that be picture perfect?