“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked..” (3:7)
The Garden of Eden seems so far removed from our present age of living. How long ago was it when Adam first walked in fellowship with God in that Garden and in company with all the animals? When Eve was created? When Adam first met her and realized the goodness of God’s continued created order? Whenever it was, it was!
The origin of marriage was instituted in this same Garden- the union of Adam and Eve to become the first husband and wife. This is important to note for it was here that God’s creation template was formed and was to be prescriptive for the generations to follow. Is it not interesting that marriage remains today but within a global perspective by what form is it viewed? Jesus, some 2000 years ago had things to say about marriage and gives us the clues to what God still has to say on this very ancient relational institution. The short answer is, the template has not changed from the original set in the Garden. There is just one proviso given and that is divorce. But divorce was given with boundaries and because of Mankind’s sinfulness. In Matthew 19 Jesus spoke words on marriage, in response to a question on divorce. Some Pharisees came to test him. Now the Jews had developed two schools of teaching and practice towards divorce (Shammai and Hillel). Rather than falling into the ‘concession’ first given by Moses, Jesus goes to the crux of the matter to show that in spite of the ‘compromise’ given in divorce there remains no compromise to God’s template of marriage. Indeed we find Jesus always pointing to God’s perfect way as always being the standard. So to these Pharisees, he replied, Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘Made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate. – Matthew 19:4-6
There are three parts to Genesis 2:24 – Firstly, a man (implied a woman also) leaves his family home to begin his own. Secondly, a man is united (cleaves in the old language) to his wife to which a new family is formed. Thirdly, a sacred union is entered and formed between the man and the woman where the two become one together and form a bond like no other in human relationships. Much can be said about this ‘oneness’ but in brief it is a deep love that becomes a togetherness in companionship and commitment and of complimentary helps to one another. It is a union whereby a sexual relationship is formed to express such love and also become the process of procreation and the establishment of family. A place for children to be nurtured. It begins with a relationship covenant in which the two, male and female, enter for the rest of their lives. A relationship like no other created relationship and a design from the creator in goodness intended. Now marriage may be the ‘Crown’ in relationships, but there are other meaningful relationships outside of marriage also (we will discuss next week).
Coming back to Genesis 2:24, God’s template. If we were to draw a perimeter around this verse we can say, marriage belongs within these boundaries. The boundaries are formed so that marriage remains as intended. From here we discover what was created in the Garden of Eden from the author of creation and the aberrations created by Man. When the door from Eden opened and expulsion occurred changes begin to rapidly apply and tarnish what God deemed to be GOOD. As early as Genesis 4:19 we find, “Lamech married two wives….” And so the practice of Polygamy begins. This follows by concubinage, homosexuality, prostitution, rape (Gen 34:1f), incest (see Gen 19:30f) and the list goes on. Indeed a lot takes place before the end of the very first book of the Bible. We may further add adultery inclusive of one of the finest we look up to, namely, David. Oh, how we took charge of ourselves to do it our way! Oh, how the grace of God is also evident in our waywardness! (We must also include the place of repentance and Psalm 51 is a worthy example)
In all of this, it is not about ‘Pointing the finger’, for even the best of us in regard to having very good marriages, we still fall short. Think about it!! We have all been affected since the exit from Eden. In this, we take a reference point. The reference of both Adam and Eve feeling no shame in their nakedness yet feeling shame when their ‘Eyes were opened’ from the Fall. Something occurred in their perfect relationship that marred it and that something is named, Sin. Our sinfulness, regardless of our best-planned intentions for marriage, affects us as in ‘two becoming one’. Like our, “made in the image of God’ remains but is flawed because of sin, so too our sacred union in marriage. It is present but remains flawed. From purity and perfection to imperfection and a sinfulness expressed in such variety of ways. So In all our ways are we not in desperate need of a Saviour? Thanks be unto God for Christ Jesus our Lord; and with Paul the apostle, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)
The origin of marriage, from the beginning, remains God’s template of meaning and purpose that we are to look to and follow and to seek God’s help in not only our self being transformed in the ‘Likeness of Christ’ but also our marriages being transformed more to the ‘perfect and pure’ as God first made and intended. We must be aware not to allow conformity “To the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2).
How may this lead you into prayer this day?
HYMN: O Jesus, Thou Art Standing – sung by Jack Marti https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doeo_-ucffI
O Jesus, thou art standing outside the fast-closed door,
In lowly patience waiting to pass the threshold o’er
Shame on us, Christian people, his name and sign who bear,
O shame, thrice shame upon us, to keep him standing there.
Dear Saviour enter, enter, and leave us never more….”