God desires so much more for our marriages than just staying together.
God’s original intent for marriage is found way back in Genesis—before sin came into the world, and well before “honey-do” lists and such sayings as “happy wife, happy life.” The secret sauce of Christian marital union is the power of God binding us together in an intimate union that includes Yahweh. And when two become one, the One (God) empowers the two.
Marital unity is restoration of the paradise God created in the beginning. It’s part of the reconciling work of God. It is the divine birthright of our new birth in Christ.
As I see it, society encourages us to existing our marriages, but God desires and seeks to inspire us to excel in our marriages. Many have been taught not to get a divorce, but how many have been taught to work toward a great relationship? If our only goal in our marital union is not to break up, then we end up living close to the divorce line. When we experience difficulties in our unions or stumble, it is easy to cross the line and break our covenant of marriage.
When I, a Christian kid, married Osharye at age 25, the main thing I knew about marriage was that it was a sentence (yes, I’m using a prison term) that I would live together with one person, and that this union would be presided over by God, and that death was the only way to get out of it. (This may be a slight exaggeration, um, but not really.) I was taught repeatedly that Christians who married did not get a divorce because God hates divorce.
The fear of the Lord is a good thing. God has a burning passion that we do not break his covenants. But if all we teach about marriage is that we should not divorce, then it’s no wonder marriage quality is low. It’s no wonder existence in marriage is acceptable and excellence in marriage is the exception.
Couples Create Culture
In Genesis 2, God revealed how a wife should care for her husband and how a husband should care for his wife. And he revealed the purpose of marriage in the Bible’s opening chapter:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28).
From the beginning, God wanted us to care for and continue the creation that he initiated. In that creating culture, we are to do more than have kids; we are also to raise up kids in the ways of God. We are to create culture. God’s beautiful original intent for how we are to treat one another is stated in Genesis 2. A wife is to be a helper for her husband, and a husband is to cultivate his wife.
Wives Complete Their Husbands
A helper is not a sidekick; rather, a helper is one who does for others what they cannot do for themselves. Only a wife and the Holy Spirit are blessed with this defining descriptor. Husbands are incomplete—a rib is missing—without a helper for a wife. The wife literally and functionally completes her husband. The root word for helper in the Old Testament is ezer, which means “treasure.” Quite naturally, then, the husband in a blessed marital union is to treat his wife as a treasure.
Husbands Cultivate Their Wives
Husbands are given dominion by God. In the Bible, dominion means “to cultivate, to care for”; in a functional way, dominion means “to cause to grow.” Wives are not incomplete like their husbands. Wives are neither lacking nor missing anything; in this sense, wives are perfect. So, what does a husband do for his wife? He does not add to her to complete her; instead, he as a husbandman—that is, a gardener—cultivates her and causes her to grow or blossom. Why? Because his wife is his ezer, his treasure. Dominion in marriage is not about dominance; instead, dominion is about the responsibility of caring for a wife. A gardener who dominates his crops destroys them. The same is true for a dominant husband and his marriage.
In the paradise created by God, (1) wives complete their husbands, (2) husbands cultivate your wives, and (3) couples create culture together. All of this is possible through the power of the One. When the two become one, the One empowers the two.
In closing, I’ll admit the Genesis text is beyond our reach. The text describes a pre-sin/Garden-of-Eden world that existed long before a wife lost a remote control or a husband left a toilet seat up. Do not become discouraged if you can’t imagine or achieve paradise in your marriage. If you feel discouraged, I’ll remind you of this description of Jesus.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).
And this includes our marriages.
The blood of Christ is the power to return all things back to the beginning. So again, don’t be discouraged if you are not in paradise today, but learn from and rely on God’s view of marital union. Be encouraged that God’s power can take you there, and in time, his power will deliver you into his divine tomorrow. When a husband and a wife pursue oneness, I believe God will empower us with miraculous workings to cause two to be one. It is time to excel in our marriages instead of merely existing!