Day 18: Theoretical Marriage
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24
Be Joined – First, let’s lay down the assumptions. Marriage is the normal state of affairs, an essential building block of society, the intended design of the Creator and the right fit for a man and a woman. There are no Biblical texts that support any alternative for societal preservation. But, secondly, this is not the reason that a man leaves his home of origin and attaches his fidelity to his wife. Did you notice that the verse begins, “for this reason?” That means that there is something before this thought that entails the “leaving and cleaving.” And what precedes verse 24 is Adam’s joyful expression that in the creation of Eve, God has built the absolutely ideal partner for him. Just seeing her leads Adam to proclaim that this is too good to be real. A man would have to be a fool not to see it. A man leaves his childhood home and attaches his fidelity to his wife because God meets his deepest need for companionship in the creation of a woman. That’s why he leaves. He is designed that way. The perspective is not about what the woman needs in order to feel complete. The perspective is what is missing in the life of the man before God provides a true and perfect companion.
But now we run into a problem. The Hebrew word here is davaq. It’s about superglue. It’s the sticky stuff of marriage – the unbreakable commitment of fidelity, loyalty, honor and obedience that comes with the deepest of all human relationships. It’s the kind of fidelity we see in Joseph, husband of Mary (and not, by the way, what we see in Abraham). It is the husband of Proverbs 31:29, proudly proclaiming that she surpasses them all. It’s holding on and sticking together like the scales of a crocodile (Job 41:17). And it is all a picture of the kind of fidelity that God shows toward us, and that we are to show toward Him. This is covenant language.
Unfortunately, for most of us this is merely theoretical. We acknowledge that this is what marriage should be, that this is what God intended, but our reality is squeezed under the pressure of a broken world. We don’t have utopian marriages. We have metorce ones.
It’s a very good thing that the Bible is not a book about ethics. It is not a handbook or manual for positive thinking and wonderful living. It is a book about broken people in a broken world struggling to live a redeemed existence. It is a hard core, down-and-dirty story about God’s fidelity and our screw-ups. Nearly every hero of Biblical proportions is, at the core, a tragically fallen person. Without God’s intervention, we wouldn’t give them a second thought. And that, by the way, is exactly like you and me, especially in marriage. Without God’s intervention, our marriages will be little more than frustrating attempts at compromise. Yuck! Who needs that? I want the joyful proclamation of Adam, “This one is perfect for me!” How does that happen? Well, it seems to start with davaq. Stickiness. Men need to concentrate on the glue! Women can be heroines of Proverbs 31 when men are stuck to them like chewing gum on a rug.