In our 21st century western culture gender differences tend to be downplayed in the name of equality. In a biblical view of marriage the genders are glorified — separately, distinctly, and differently, and are tied to God’s purpose for the two genders.
We are built to need relationships that complement our characters, passions, and ways of thinking. Each of us are created as complex yet incomplete reflections of God’s image and our genders play a critical role in displaying that image.
Tim and Kathy Keller, in their book The Meaning of Marriage, offer a radical view marriage: “to teach us more about our sins in unique and profound ways and to grow us out of them through someone who speaks the truth in love.” Whoa, marriage, then, is not for the faint of heart! And, there’s no doubt that such a view of marriage requires a strong and gracious Savior to empower transformation and to increase our joy.
In Genesis, we see that God intentionally creates Eve with unique strengths that help Adam understand life from a different perspective. But in case we think that “helper” makes women somehow weaker, the original Hebrew word,‘ezer, is most often used in the Bible to describe God Himself; where humans are weak, God is our Helper. In the same way, a woman’s call to help and submit is a God-given, feminine strength that Jesus Himself models. Men, through our masculinity, likewise play a Jesus role in the marriage when loving unconditionally and serving sacrificially.
Husbands and wives are invited to combine their strengths to achieve things they never could without their counterparts. More than this, the husband and wife relationship is to be that of best friends, through a covenantal (not a contractual!) relationship. The intensity and intimacy of such a friendship not only reflects that of the Trinity, but also gives us a foretaste of heaven!
Through our gender differences—not despite them—marriage helps us better bear the image of God who, as a helper, giver, and sacrificing servant — epitomizing both masculine and feminine qualities.
More to come…