Not long ago I spoke to a young couple in our congregation who told me they wanted to move in together but weren’t interested in getting married. They said, “We don’t know why we need a piece of paper to love and be committed to one another.” Another young man commented how he thought a legal contract for love was silly. In his mind, it was more romantic to love someone who could leave if she wanted. Her choosing to stay showed she wasn’t sticking around just because of a piece of paper. His perspective reflected a view held by many young adults today.
It's funny, but I have no clue where my marriage license is, or even what it looks like. I haven't looked at it in 30 years. Marriage is not about a piece of paper to me. It is about a sacred promise I made first to God and then to my wife. It is a mission that, after my decision to follow Christ, is the most important calling in my life.
Part of what I love about the Genesis 2 creation story is its description of the very first wedding. God creates the man from the dust of the earth, places him in the midst of paradise, and gives him everything he could possibly want. But he's not satisfied. He has a longing for a companion to be his helper (that's the language of Genesis 2 - companion and helper).
So God, seeing his longing, goes about the process of creating the "new and improved" model of the man - the woman. God brings the woman to the man, and his heart beats faster, his palms get sweaty, and he realizes he's just met the one creature who is like him, yet mysteriously, and soon he would say maddeningly, different from him.
I love that in this story, right there in the beginning of the Bible, it says that they were naked, they clung to one another and became one flesh, and there was no shame in this. The Bible begins with the story of love, marriage, and sex.
Some read the story and hear that Eve was created to be Adam's helper and companion and note how sexist this sounds. But c'mon, this story was written down over 3,000 years ago. One thing that is usually missed, though: the word "helper" in Hebrew is a word that almost always refers to someone who is stronger helping someone who is weaker, and on several occasions God applies the term to himself. This would imply that, contra Paul, the woman was the stronger sex, not the weaker.
Every day I try to remember this mission to be LaVon's helper and companion. I am called by God to bless her, to love her selflessly, to encourage her and lift her up. She, likewise, is called to do the same for me. Today she came home and handed me something she'd bought me at the store; it was something I really needed. What meant the most to me was that while she was at the store she was thinking of me.
My aim is to think about her throughout the day, and to find at least one intentional act of blessing her before the day is over. If you are involved in a romantic relationship, or perhaps you are married, remember the mission: to be a helper and companion for another - to bless them, encourage them, built them up, and love them in tangible ways.
Today’s post includes a few new thoughts, but mostly an excerpt from my book, Love to Stay.