Sunday, March 7, 2010


You wouldn't believe how much trouble I got into for my last post. Lots of guys have been coming up to me telling me to quit talking about marriage, quit talking about what relationships between men and women are supposed to be like, quit talking up how great women are, just quit it!

Sorry, guys. Can't do it. I don't have a pro-feminist agenda or anything like that, I've got a biblical agenda. And as we work through what Genesis has to say about us -- this is our story -- we have to work through these verses at the end of Genesis 2.

So man is alone, and God sees the aloneness is not good, and God decides to do something about it. I've heard and seen and lived this story so many times. There's a fairly decent guy who is maybe in his early 20's or maybe his early 30's or maybe his late 40's, it doesn't matter. But everyone around him just aches because he's such a fairly decent guy and why doesn't he find a nice girl and settle down but he just keeps doing his own thing and it annoys them to no end. My dad was 38 before he got married to the little girl across the road who somewhere along the way grew up and became a rather remarkable young woman who got a hold on his heart and wouldn't let go. When he was a bachelor, he did a lot of hunting and fishing until nearly every housewife in the territory had given up trying to figure out who Art should marry. Then Pearl got him. (Good thing, too, for my sake, or I wouldn't be here!)

We know this story. The man likes to be alone a little too much, and everyone -- maybe including him -- can see it's too much of a good thing. Then into his loneliness walks a woman with a light in her eyes and a flip of her ponytail and his friends are suddenly wearing tuxes and pouring Rice Krispies into the defrost on his car. (Don't do it -- you'll NEVER get them all out, and every October a few more will come fluttering out when you turn on the defrost for the first time. It's a pain.) And in the fairy tales, that's the happy ending.

But we also live in a world where we know that the story goes on, and all too often it is a sad, difficult story. She may have kissed prince charming, and he doesn't look like a frog anymore, but he still likes to eat flies when she's not looking. I've sat in my office with way too many couples who have tried on their own wisdom for month after month to make their marriage work. Trouble is, they don't know what it's supposed to look like, so they just keep fighting and making each other mad. So he stomps off to the garage to be alone, and she calls her mother in tears. It happens way too much.

We won't solve people's marriage problems right now. It's going to take a while to work through these verses, because there is a lot of stuff packed in here. But let's start with a rib.

Why does God take from Adam's ribs to make this woman? Why not a different bone, or maybe just another pile of dust? Why a rib?

First of all, the rib means that these two are intimately tied. When he wakes up and sees her, the man recognizes this right away: "This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," he says, which is a rough Hebrew approximation of "WOW!" He recognizes that this goes beyond the bond he had with the golden retriever, as much fun as the frisbee game was. Here is someone who is custom made for him, in fact made from him, so that in a sense these two fit together. To separate them now will cause irreparable harm. It will be like letting an oak tree put roots down into your heart and then tearing it out, roots and all. It leaves you behind, but you're shredded.

Second thing the rib tells us is that there's a symmetry, an equality, to God's intended relationship between a man and a woman. She's not made from his head to tell him what to do or how to think. Male passivity has allowed and encouraged (and sometimes required) women to step into the role of directors and dictators, but that was never God's intention and it is not God's intention today that she should be domineering and he should be henpecked. Neither was the woman made from his foot so that he could stomp all over her, grind her into the dirt, use her and put her away when he doesn't want her around, make jokes at her expense, beat up on her when he's feeling threatened and powerless, or play her emotions like a fish, reeling her in and rejecting her just to reassure himself that he's got some power. She's created from his rib, which lies underneath his arm where it can be held close, and which lies over his heart. She belongs with him, nestled up against the seat of his will and emotion. (Yes, guys do have emotions. They're in the tool box next to the 9/16 socket. Go dig them out and tell her about them sometime.) The rib tells us a lot about what God desires for this relationship.

But there's more coming.

1 comment:

  1. I once heard that the word translated "rib" can also be translated "side". Doesn't change the meaning much but if true the surgery performed by God was more extensive and the language "flesh of my flesh" makes sense. As does the concept of man and woman becoming one flesh.

    Anyhow, to my main point (question). We still haven't discussed the pause. Why did God create all the plants and animals both male and female, yet when He got to his crowning creation, he created Adam. He then paused to make the point about being alone, and then created Eve from Adam (via the rib or the entire side). Why? Seems like God was making a profound statement by doing this, doesn't it?