Tuesday, March 12, 2013
What Every Marriage Needs
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in Eden marriage has been in trouble. Their sin marked the beginning of family feuds, slammed doors, silent treatment and wandering eyes. Following in their trail was murder, polygamy, adultery, homosexuality and every sort of relationship sin.
Thankfully the story does not end with sin. As the Bible opens with the wedding of Adam and Eve, it closes with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In between we learn about the purposes and pleasures of marriage. Marriage was good before the fall and through Christ marriage can still be good.
The closest picture to what love looked like prior to the fall is The Song of Solomon. Many commentators see in the love relationship between the country maiden and the king in Solomon's Song a picture or commentary of the pre-sin relationship between Adam and Eve. Of course the couple in the Song of Solomon were sinners. Yet they portray what love and marriage can be, even now.
A good marriage does not just magically happen because two starry eyed folk's say I do and race off to the honeymoon. A happy marriage requires faith in God, a commitment to local church membership and a willingness to learn about marriage as the couple discovers one another.
What are a few things that characterize every good marriage?
Eyes. The eyesight of the couple in the Song of Solomon strikes me. They see. They see gazelles, jewels, horses, doves and flowers in springtime. And they compare one another to the best things in life. Every successful marriage has eyes that see. What about you? Do you see the beauty of creation? Though nature is fallen and your spouse is fallen both still reflect the beauty of God. When is the last time you have actually seen your spouse? Do you see the beauty amidst the warts? Does their beauty, in your eyes, so overshadow the flaws that you are able to say of your spouse that they are flawless (Song 4:7)?
Ears. The senses are alive in Solomon's love song. The man and woman speak often of and to one another. And they hear. We know they hear because his praise of her leads to her praise of him and vice versa. The man says to the woman, ...let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet...(2:14). Do you long for the voice of your beloved? Do you hear them when they speak? We need to hear the heart as well as the voice. We need to hear the groans and the laughs. We need to hear the heart and the mind. We need ears to hear. We need to be able to hear the gazelle as he runs swiftly through the field. We need to hear the dove as she flies gently above.
Speech. Not only do we need ears to hear--we need to find our voice. Dennis Kinlaw in his commentary on the Song of Songs writes; a common language is developing to show the mutuality of their love. He calls her 'beautiful' (1:15), she responds with the masculine form of the same word, 'handsome.' This common language grows throughout the Song. It deepens. It becomes increasingly creative and erotic. Healthy marriages develop a common language. It is a language exclusive to the marriage, descriptive, joyful, creative and often erotic. It is a reserved language--for no one else. It is also a comparative language. They compare one another to the best things in life.
Smell. A married couple needs to smell scents of love. Marriage needs two noses that smell the sweetness of an apple tree (and orchard), the sweetness of grapes (and vineyards) and the sweetness of perfume and shaving lotion. All of the best smells are but reminders of the sweet aromas of the beloved. God gave the scents and spices of nature. He gave us the ability to take the smells in. On a recent tour a guide was giving instruction on how to smell a particular drink in preparation for drinking. She said, open your lips and breath the smell in. That is the way marriage is. One must learn to open their lips and breath in the sweetest aromas as an enjoyment of their spouse.
Taste. Every marriage needs taste buds. The purpose of taste buds is simply to enjoy the experience of eating and drinking. The lady desires the kisses of her beloved (1:2). She said of her beloved, with great delight I sat in his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste (2:3). The man grazes among the lilies (2:16). She invites him to, come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits (4:16). He responded, I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk (5:1). I don't have a scientific study before me--but I can almost guarantee you that in a healthy marriage there will be a lot of kissing.
Touch. In a joyful marriage, touch is essential. She said, His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me (1:6)! She knew that his arms were rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory bedecked with sapphires...(5:14) not just through observation but also through touch. He touches her (7:8). Smiling marriages are characterized by touch. It may be a gentle touch to the back as you pass by your spouse. It might be a touch to the head or face. It might be a hug. It is sometimes more.
What does every marriage need? Every marriage needs eyes, ears, speech, smell, taste and touch.
By grace through faith in Christ when you care enough about your spouse to see them, hear them, speak sweetly to them, smell them, taste them and touch them--then you can get close to Eden even in this fallen world.