[Summertime is a time for many things, including falling behind in posting. This post is dedicated to those choosing to begin a life together in marriage. It comes from a devotional I was privileged to deliver at the wedding of the daughter of good friends.]
Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of. Little boys, it seems, are made of entirely different stuff: Frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails.
Many ancient myths from different cultures describe the beginnings of humankind. In several of them, man and woman are said to be made of different materials and even by different deities. As a result, men and women enjoy (if that’s the right word), very different roles and responsibilities. Mostly, that translates to men dominating women.
Jewish and Christian traditions are based on a common story that has a different – and better! – beginning. God makes the man out of the ground, and then makes woman out of the man’s own body. What does that say about the relationship between man and woman?
A lot of people seem to think this implies that the man is somehow better than the woman because of their order of creation.
What the story actually says, however, is that the woman is made of exactly the same stuff as the man. In ancient times, that was tantamount to saying they were equal. As if that isn’t enough, God also grants dominion over all the creatures to both man and woman, who are both made in God’s very own image. You can read the details for yourselves in the first two chapters of the Bible.
The story says, ‘Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 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.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ (Genesis 2:22-24)
So the reason a man and a woman partner together through thick and thin is because the man realizes that the woman is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” In modern words: her life is his life. Her needs are his needs. Her strengths are his strengths. Her triumphs are his triumphs. Her joy is his joy. Nothing that she accomplishes can diminish his accomplishments because he shares her pride in her work.
Her sorrows are his sorrows. Her tears are his tears, and his heart breaks if he is the one who caused them. They are in it together. All the way.
Imagine the awe and the wonder in Adam’s mind.
He might have noticed different things about her than we modern people might expect, like: Wow! She’s just like me! She has opposable thumbs – we can build things together! She has a mind and an imagination – we can dream and imagine a better world together! Her ideas and my ideas together will be better than just mine alone would be! Wow!
Wow! She’s different from me, too! We can have a family together! We can make more people just like us! Their sameness and differences will change the world! Imagine the possibilities! Wow!
We know in hindsight that things didn’t always go well with Adam and eve. Their mistakes unleashed terrible suffering, toilsome struggle and evil into the world. As a result, our world can be a hazardous and oppressive place to live in at times. However, even when things went badly they stayed together and weathered it together.
Why? Because the only thing worse than facing heartbreak, toil and suffering is facing heartbreak, toil and suffering ALONE.
But there were good times, too. Times for appreciating successes and celebrating victories over adversity. Good times are even better with someone to share them with. Especially that special someone who is just perfect for you.
The one who shares your joy, and appreciates your struggles.
It’s wonderful and awesome to celebrate the recognition that a man and a woman have found that perfect partner for themselves.
We can celebrate with them that they have become lifelong partners in marriage.
Partners in good times.
Partners in bad times.
Partners… for all time.