Everyone loves a good love story, right? What makes for a good love story, a great marriage from God’s perspective? We’re going to look at that today, and let me say that if you aren’t married, don’t tune me out. Perhaps you can share this message with someone else who could benefit from hearing what God has given to me.
Genesis 2:20b-25 But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.23 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.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Marriage was God’s idea. He instituted it. I have said many times that everything we need to know about life, relationships, sin, the covering for sin, our need for God, God’s plans for us on this earth, the dangers of sin and more can be found in Genesis 1, 2, and 3. In these early Genesis chapters we see what God intends for Christian marriage. What God founded, from the very beginning, as the bedrock for all of human history, what He created as the cornerstone for each family was a marriage between a man and a woman. That is what He designed, and that is what He blessed. Any other expression is outside of God’s intended pattern for the family.
Adam wasn’t supposed to do life alone, and we see in Genesis 2:20b, that he was unable to do it alone. He needed someone to help him. If he hadn’t needed help to do what God had set out for him to accomplish, there wouldn’t have been a need for a helper to complete that work. No suitable helper was found, so Eve was created, and the marital relationship was established. Adam’s body was literally shared with Eve which was an expression of oneness and intimacy from the get-go. Verse 24 talks about Adam being united to his wife which is another expression of oneness as two came together to form a family, to share life. The nature of the physical relationship which enables a man and a woman to become one flesh is yet another way to describe this marital oneness. And the description of Adam and Eve both being naked and unashamed speaks about unconditional love, acceptance, and trust which was a high level of oneness.
It is that oneness that I want to talk about with you today. When a college friend of mine was getting married, God gave me some words that I put into a poem for her. I had the poem framed and gave it to her as a gift. The words were later turned into a song that she sang at our wedding. It was called “A Symphony of One.” Here it is:
In the symphony of life, you both had played a part.
Two distinctly different melodies were played upon your hearts.
The Conductor then decided to combine the different tunes,
To play them simultaneously forming one song from the two.
And when the songs were joined, one new joyous song was made,
A song rich and full of love with beautiful unison displayed.
Blending two lives in harmony, creating new chords of sound
Where chords of joy, chords of peace, and chords of love abound.
Soft and loud, fast and slow, all will play their role,
But as each movement is created may you always know,
The song of love you share was destined to be sung,
Orchestrated by God who brought together this “Symphony of One.”
A Symphony of One. Marital Oneness. This is a biblical principle we see all over the coming together of the very first family. While a marriage is obviously made up of two individual people, by coming together in a God-ordained covenant, a new entity is created as two people, while remaining two people, form one relationship. From two becomes one. Now, please hear me; When you get married you don’t lose your individual gifts and talents, your individual preferences, your individual needs and pursuits, but when you become one, you learn to blend those things, to bring those things to the one relationship which, ideally, enables each person to become stronger, better and more productive because of the contribution of their spouse. If today, we cannot say we are stronger, better and more productive because of our marital relationship, we need to evaluate why. If we cannot say we are contributing to the strength and quality of life and productivity of our spouse, we need to evaluate why.
In Genesis 1:26 when God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” the word “man” in Hebrew was gender neutral. So, the word “man” referred to both men and women. That is why in Genesis 1:27 when it says, “So God created man in his own image,” he went on to explain, “In the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Both genders have the capacity to reflect aspects of the image of God.
So, when men, who are created in the image of God, come together with women, who are created in the image of God, together, there is a full reflection or picture of the image of God. Two become one. God is one. He is three-in-one, but He is one. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, right? Each member of the Trinity has an independent role to play in the universe. The Father isn’t more important than the Son. The Son isn’t more important than the Spirit. The Spirit isn’t more important than either of the other two. Each has unique assignments and accomplishments, and together, they have moved the will of God in human history forward. They have acted in concert.
Just like the three distinct points on a triangle. They are unique and separate, but in order for this triangle to move, all three points have to act in one accord. Oneness in marriage is much the same. A husband doesn’t cease to be an individual person with unique desires and a unique skillset just because he marries a wife who also is her own person. No, together, they work in concert with God’s purpose which is to reflect His glory in and through the marital relationship. Just as in the Godhead, there is a spirit of cooperation and submission, so too, in marriage, there is a partnership produced by cooperation and submission that enables the advancement of God’s agenda for that relationship. The purpose of marital oneness is to advance God’s agenda while reflecting God’s image in the world.
Eve could help Adam accomplish what God had assigned to him and vice versa, which would reveal the glory of God. So, I would say that oneness in marriage begins with a recognition and responsibility to enable my spouse to accomplish all God desires for him to accomplish.
- I will say it this way: When there is biblical oneness, there will be constant SUPPORT for your spouse.
If I believe that God brought Thom and me together for these past almost 23 years, then I have to embrace that God wants to use me in his life to help him accomplish God’s plans for him and vice versa. And if I believe that, then I understand there will be moments when my plans and dreams might need to be put on the back burner. I will embrace that there will be times and seasons which my needs and desires will need to be set aside so that I can help my husband accomplish the call of God. I might need to assist with prayer support, practical support, even sacrificial support, and the same would be true for him of me. Listen, my call to preach and lead was loaded with a lot of sacrifices that Thom has had to make along the way. His support of me has contributed to my desire to support him in all things which in turn has enhanced our oneness.
- I would submit to you that When there is biblical oneness, you will have SEPARATED from your family of origin to make your spouse your earthly priority.
This particular point flows from the fact that a man and a woman are to leave their father and mother in order to come together. This is what the Bible says. When you marry, you leave behind your father and mother as the covering for your life, as the counselor for your problems, and the source for your comfort. In a Christian marriage, there is a separation from a reliance on your nuclear family and a transferring of that reliance to your spouse so that a new way of navigating life’s challenges is formed. Your relationship with your parents moves from the top spot in your earthly experience, to the second spot as your relationship with your spouse becomes the main life-giving relationship in your day to day.
I’m not saying you say, “Goodbye, So long, It’s been nice knowing you” to your parents and never look back, or that you don’t ever to your parents in a moment of crisis or pain. But what God has established is that your spouse is the first person you should be able to turn to and that when you do, it will strengthen your oneness. In the tough times, you are to lean on God and each other first. Next to God, my husband is the most important person in my life. That means he is more important than my mom, more important than my siblings, and more important than our kids. His well-being, his spiritual wholeness, his personal and professional success are more important to me than this job or any of you. I do not say that to take away from what God has called me to do to enable you spiritually and mentally and physically and socially; I’m just saying Thom Pratt is the priority of my heart next to God. I will protect him and respect him above all others. He and I share things that no one else is privy to. He is my secret-keeper. He is the one I confess my weaknesses to. He is the one I share my disappointments and heartaches with first, and yes, we’re still having fun and he’s still the one.
The importance you place on the relationship with your spouse can be tricky. Your parents may have expectations for you, even when you are married, that would make it impossible for your spouse to be your number one. Your parents may have a hard time letting you go and grow with your spouse. You may need God’s help to make it so even when there is a push or pull or outside pressure from your parents to be overinvolved in the affairs of your life as a couple. Parents can and should support. They can even speak into a situation, when invited, as they might have superior wisdom or experience, but they cannot be the driving force behind the way you two will purpose as a couple to live your lives for the Lord if you are going to achieve ultimate oneness.
Parents, if you are trying to put pressure on your adult children to be the center of your lives, or if are trying to manipulate their relationship or influence their decisions in a way that isn’t yours to dictate, you need to get out of the backseat of the relationship car and allow them to drive. You will hamper the oneness of your adult child’s relationship when that is the case, and ultimately that will truly hurt their marriage. You want a young husband and wife to work to become one because as their oneness grows, the likelihood that anything could ever separate them diminishes.
I also want to say that when a man and a woman marry, they are a family. A husband and a wife are a family. The addition of children is not what creates a family. It merely takes two to create a family. Unfortunately, I see a lot of married couples lose the oneness of their marital relationship because they stop prioritizing it, and they make everything about their children. Children can become part of your family, but married couples, you are a family before children ever come into the picture. And the health of your expanded family will depend on the quality of your marital relationship. If you let that go, there will be unnecessary strains and struggles with the addition of children. Even when you have children, your relationship with them should be under your relationship with your spouse in terms of priority.
We see here in Genesis 2:24, the “Leave and Cleave Principle.” There is a shift away from reliance on your parents as you leave their authority and you invest in uniting with, in cleaving to your spouse. So you have to separate and seek to be STUCK TOGETHER with your spouse. This sticking together is what the Bible calls being united or cleaving to your spouse.
Cleaving is hard work. Cleaving means that you will not give yourselves an easy out of the marriage. Cleaving has nothing to do with feelings. It has everything to do with commitment and hard work. It means showing up for your spouse every day. Cleaving means Thom is stuck with me even when he doesn’t like me! It is a tenacious attitude that maintains, “I won’t let you go” no matter what. Christians must not go into marriage thinking that if it doesn’t work out, they will just step out and move on.
Cleaving means viewing marriage as a covenant and not a contract. It is the kind of covenant that God has with His people. It is a no-matter-what kind of tenacity. In a contract, if one party violates the agreement it is null and void, and you can exit. But in a covenant, there is a commitment that goes beyond the circumstance, beyond the stress, beyond the grievance of the moment. If you have made Jesus Christ the Cornerstone of your marriage, and if you are actively seeking to support each other, and if you have prioritized your relationship as number one after God, you will be able to get through any pressure, hardship, disappointment and difficulty that life throws at you. That’s why the marriage vow says, “’Til death us do part.” That’s why the pastor always used to say, “What God has joined, let no one put asunder.” It should be impossible to separate a couple that has truly become one.
Ephesians 5:28 is a great Scripture that talks about how when people have when a couple has truly cleaved to one another and become one, it is impossible to tear them apart. “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” You cannot divorce yourself from your own body. Paul wants you to view your spouse as part of your own body.
So, we have a support for our spouse that requires sacrifice at times. We also see a separation from those we have loved in order to pursue a deeper and more intimate love with one person, and we have touched on the need to view ourselves as stuck together for a purpose greater than what we could achieve on our own. I would finally say that When there is biblical oneness there will be a SACRED INTIMACY that invites and enables vulnerability and trust.
Everyone needs a safe place. The Psalmist talked often about how God was His refuge, His covering, His shade, His safe place. He also talked about how God knew him intimately, whether it was the thoughts he was thinking or the way he lived his life. There was a deep relationship that went beyond casual, beyond the surface. It was intimate. In Psalm 139 the writer said that God knew every part of him. And inside that relationship with God there was satisfaction and contentment. He lived securely and fulfilled because he knew God knew everything about him and loved him unconditionally. In that environment, the Psalmist could thrive. Even when enemies were attacking, even when the issues of life were pressing—he could thrive because of the intimacy he shared with God.
There is to be this same God-like intimacy in a biblical marriage. Genesis 2:25 says that Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. They were totally vulnerable with one another. There were no barriers to their intimacy. I’m not just talking about physical intimacy, but emotional and spiritual intimacy as well. Eve wasn’t afraid of Adam. She didn’t have to tip-toe around him because she was afraid she might make him mad and then have to suffer his wrath. Adam never wondered what version of Eve he would get when she came home from picking berries or whatever she was doing before sin entered the picture. Eve was never afraid of sharing her thoughts with Adam for fear he would tell her she was stupid. There was no suspicion of each other, no name-calling, no reckless words to diminish or demean each other, no threat of being belittled for being themselves. They were each other’s SAFE PLACE. And in that environment, they could thrive.
Sin had stepped in and destroyed their intimacy with God and one another. Division disrupted their intimacy. They argued. They blamed each other for what had happened rather than taking personal responsibility, for the disruption they had created. They covered themselves up, closing themselves off from God and one another. Intimacy was gone. Vulnerability was destroyed.
I want us to understand today that when Satan attacked Adam and Eve in the garden with the temptation to sin, he wasn’t just attacking God and the two people He had created. He was attacking the institution of marriage, something he has continued to try to do so since that day. Satan knew if he could create division, a lack of trust, and hamper their communication and destroy their vulnerability, it would change the way they dreamed together. It would change the way they would work together in concert. It would change the way they could reflect the image of God in the world. Adam and Eve went from allies to enemies as they blamed each other for what happened.
Does that happen in our marriages today? When there is a lack of finances, are we quick to blame each other for the problem? When there is trouble with the kids, do we take a side instead of working together to find a solution? When there is a lack of quality time and physical intimacy, is it our spouses’ fault?
When God covered Adam and Eve’s sin, I believe He gave them what they needed to start over not only in their relationship with Him, but with each other. They didn’t throw in the towel after what happened, and it was no small thing. It changed their lives forever. Because of their sin, God relocated them outside of the Garden, but He didn’t wash His hands of them. Through them, the human race began. They found a way to recover their relationship because they allowed God to cover their sin.
Has some sin disrupted your marital intimacy? Is vulnerability gone between you two? Is there mistrust and doubt? I tell you on the authority of God’s Word that the sacred intimacy between you can be restored. You can go on from here. With God’s help you can build a new kind of life together. Can you recommit to stick together through thick and thin, through the ups and downs, through trials and troubles? Can you prioritize your relationship afresh, placing it above all other earthly relationships in your life? Can you find new and practical ways to support each other so that each of you can become the version of yourself as each of you follows Christ?
You will remember that Adam and Eve walked with God before sin entered their lives. When they did, when that relationship with intact, so was their marital relationship. You want a better marriage? Draw closer to Jesus. The closer each of you grows to Christ, the closer you will go together and that growing together, will enable you to move your marriage forward into the place God intends for you to be which is together, in Him.
Support your spouse. Separate appropriately from any other relationship that threatens the health of your marriage. Stick together through every season. Cultivate a sacred intimacy by being each other’s safe place and by walking with God, together.