“Then the Lord said, it is not good that the man should be along: I will make him a helper as his partner.” (Genesis 2:18)
The first two chapters of Genesis paint a beautiful picture of the creation of the world. God creates a beautiful world in which to dwell. In this picture, God is creating a Temple in which to dwell. It is a Temple that will offer worship and praise to the creator. Not just the songs of humanity, but the voices of creation: the rocks, trees, and every living creature both great and small. And the final act of the Temple, the final piece to be put in place, is the image of the God. At the climax of creation, God creates humanity as the very image of God, and then places that image in the temple to represent God in the world. We are God’s image bearers in God’s Temple that is constantly giving praise to God.
The theme throughout this story is that the creation is good. Everyday ends with God declaring it is good, and the final day ends with a grand declaration that it is very good. Everything in the creation is good.
However, half way through chapter two God looks around and declares it is not good. The words may come as a shock after everything has been declared good, but God finds one thing that is not good. It is not good for man to be alone.
Part of what it means to be God is to be in community; love mutually shared with others. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all mutually in relationship; equals who share love with each other. The Son submits to the Father. The Father loves the Son, “This is my beloved.” The Spirit glorifies the Father and the Son. The Son honors and respects the Spirit. While we individually can image God, as individuals we can only image God to a degree. God is community and we need to be in community to fully image God. Because part of what makes God God is the unconditional love acted toward the other. What makes God’s love so great is that it’s not just inward focused, it’s outward focused. God’s love is so great that God has learned to love the other just as much as God loves self. What makes God’s love complete is loving outside of oneself to the other, even to the point of death on a cross; the ultimate sign of love. God looks and says, it’s not good for humanity to be alone because left to our own devices we will become selfish people. If we are going to fully live into our role as image bearers we have to learn to love outside of ourselves. We have to learn to love the other more than ourselves.
It’s not good for man to be alone, therefore, God provides a helper, a partner, a companion, to help live life with. Therefore, a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. One doesn’t have to be married to learn to love outside of oneself. But there may be no greater relationship or opportunity in this world to learn what it means to love like God, and to be loved by God, than in marriage.
To steal the subtitle from a popular book a few years ago: What if marriage wasn’t designed to make us happy, but to make us holy. What if the purpose of marriage wasn’t to keep us from being lonely, or to be able to put our incomes together to buy a bigger house, or to help meet my needs? Instead, what if the purpose of marriage was to help form us more fully into the image of God? What if God’s design and intention for marriage was to actually be an avenue that helped form us more fully into the image of God? What if my role as a husband was to serve my wife in a way that helps her fulfill her dreams in life; to help her become all that God created her to be? What if my role as a husband was to learn to love my wife more than I love myself, to die daily to my own wants and desires so that I can help serve her and love her as God would.
If my marriage is designed to make me happy, than my marriage is in for a rough ride because happiness will fluctuate depending on circumstances. But if marriage is designed to make me holy, and my marriage is an opportunity to learn to love another outside of myself, then my marriage is actually a way to make me more like God. In this sense, my marriage literally becomes an altar where I offer myself to God through self-sacrificially loving my spouse. My marriage then becomes the greatest opportunity for me to be more fully formed into the image of God that I will experience on earth.
As we learn to love outside of ourselves, as we learn to love our spouse, and our spouse learns to love us, then together we love and serve each other in a way that helps us more fully image God. As we live this out, we will find meaning, purpose, contentment, and happiness in our marriages. Our marriages will truly be blessings in our lives.